Art Crush: Paulina Otylie Surys

Using analogue equipment exclusively, London-based fine artist & photographer Paulina Otylie Surys creates eerily dark images as equally graceful as they are erotic, leaving us wondering if we’ve caught ourselves in a dream or in a nightmare.

Surys studied as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poland and later went on to focus on photography as her preferred medium for its ability to capture life in a moment in time.

“I take photographs of things which are often unnoticed by the naked eye, or shoot subjects in a way that they are not commonly seen. Once photographed, these details will be understood in a, possibly infinite, variety of ways, depending on the viewer. They will create the final piece in their own minds. Mythological symbolism can be a tool for controlling such subjective viewing,” she told Featured Shoot.

“I am aware that my photography may seem weird, perhaps even aggressive to the viewer. I can be rather domineering when shooting in order to provoke emotions in the subject, to get to know them better.”


While developing each photograph Surys experiments with different techniques in the darkroom such as using tintypes and the wet collodion process. After the photo is developed, she then hand-paints over it using a mixture of toners, chemicals, inks, waxes, and dry dyes. The end result is and amazing dreamlike enhancement on the original photo.

The photograph that really caught my eye is the one below. I really enjoy that she chose such an intense, yet still soft, contrast. The girls’ alabaster skin against the black background feels like a balance of opposites, such as yin and yang. The subject seems angelic, yet witchlike. Leaving a beautifully morbid image, marrying the dream and the nightmare together in one image. So beautiful.


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