Hey, I’m Avi Kniznik and I’m going to take you on a journey through my life and career. Through the crazy shoots, the late nights spent making people look far better than they do in real life (thank God for Photoshop), and the many, many, many gins that made me the man I am today. So, let’s start from the very beginning, in 197(something or other) when I was first born into the world…
...I’m just kidding. I don’t want to depress you with that long story. Instead, let me take you back to when I first fell in love with photography. I was nine years old at summer camp in Toronto – yes, I’m Canadian and, no, that doesn’t mean I say ‘eh’ every other word, or speak French – and I was able to get my hands on an SLR camera with the added awesomeness of developing my shots in a darkroom.
Although it was summer and other kids spent their time outside making mud pies or whatever the hell kids do, I spent most of my time in that blacked out room, with the only light source being a red sconce on the wall (I could go into detail about why red light is a ‘safe light’ in film photography, but that’s a whole load of spiel for another time). I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a vampire, or have translucent skin, or at least a Vitamin D deficiency, but I definitely smelled of weird, vinegary chemicals for a good portion of my childhood.
I learned about developing negatives, printing onto photosensitive paper and working with an enlarger – the kind of nitty gritty stuff that a digital camera automatically does for you. It’s safe to say, I was hooked. After that summer, my camera was like an extra limb. I took photos of anything and everything that took my fancy, from insects to architecture. But the subject I loved most was people.
I was obsessed with the unknown, going to every back alley and into every unsavoury neighbourhood trying to capture people who stood out in the crowd. The weirder, the better. I even found a guy with one arm and one leg selling tarot card readings under the Prince Edward Viaduct, who let me take his photo in exchange for burying his dead cat (and if you book with me, I’ll tell you whether that’s true or not).
Having the courage to approach people, introduce myself and get to know them, gave the photos a deeper meaning, preparing me for the work I do now. I like to get to the meat of my clients’ personalities; finding out what makes you guys tick makes the photos I take that bit more special. I’m not just a figure behind a camera – I like to interact with you, to talk, to laugh and have some banter. It’s hard being in front of a lens (which is why I prefer to be behind one), so if I can break down the barrier between us, the photos we create will have more soul than a James Brown song.
When I’m not Avi Kniznik of AK Expressions, I’m a dad, husband, Star Wars fanatic and avid coffee and gin drinker. I have lived around Ipswich, Suffolk for over 19 years, relishing in the fresh country air, and the occasional waft of dank water and ripe fish from the River Orwell.
If I sound like the right guy for your wedding, check out more of my work in the galleries on this website, via my Facebook page, or by sending me an email – or, if you’re old school, give me a call on 07792 490033.