Better-known under the nom de plume of Hashtagalek, Aleksander Malachowski’s approach remains as original now as it was when he first broke onto the scene. A triumph of style, detail, and bold, striking beauty, the images of Hashtagalek make him the one photographer that every Warsaw addict simply has to follow.
WI: You now photograph all over Poland, even Europe. With that in mind, how does Warsaw compare from a photographer’s perspective – what makes it special?
AM: Diversity! The contrasts found in Warsaw, the mixture of old and new, of modernism, postmodernism and pre-war, are unique. What devices are you using nowadays? Generally speaking, still both a smartphone and camera. Phone (a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra) for daily use and capturing everything my eyes see, and the camera (a Canon EOS R) for commercial projects.
WI: You started photographing about a decade back – what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a photographer?
AM: Yeah, it really did start 10-years-ago, which… I guess, makes me feel like I’m getting a little old! Probably the biggest lesson has been understanding that things happen for a reason – that even when something seems to be going wrong, it can, eventually, lead to something good. Lesson No. 2 was the discovery that you can find inspiration everywhere, especially when photographing architecture. It’s beautiful to be able to combine discoveries from other fields of art, or even science, into your style.
WI: As a model, how would you describe the character and personality of Warsaw?
AM: Bold, brave, constantly evolving.
WI: Are there any places you love shooting in Warsaw?
AM: Since the very beginning of my photography journey I have always loved taking pictures in the Wola district. The mix of tenements, modernist apartment blocks and skyscrapers is special.
WI: Is there anything you enjoy about photographing Warsaw in the summer?
AM: The duration of the day(light). I’m keen on using natural light, especially when the sun is above as that creates interesting shadows.
WI: Your work often explores the lesser-known corners of cities – what surprises have you found around Warsaw?
AM: One of the most shocking discoveries for me was finding out that the Ufficio Primo building has a stunning interior. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to get there to this day. Does anybody work there? Send me a message! Apart from that I’m surprised by how many amazing places are hidden in Mokotów, the district where I spent most of my years.
WI: How do you look for places to shoot?
AM: Mostly using my beloved Google: both Search and Maps with its satellite and street view options. Sometimes I get messaged by friends or followers: “Hi Alek, I just saw a super cool staircase, you have to check it out!”
WI: For you, what is ‘the perfect image’?
AM: One that you are proud of. One that evokes emotions in you and brings back memories. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most.
WI: You’ve got a huge fanbase – what is about your work that has drawn so many people?
AM: I think it’s a mix: people like my style, but also discovering unusual places in Poland with me, which I show through my eyes (and lens).
BIO: Aleksander Małachowski is an architecture photographer, Master of Arts, a Samsung ambassador, and co-founder of the ProjektFotografia.pl course. He seeks to find the intersection between photography and the organised, physical world by means of geometry and symmetry shaped in a minimalist way. His portfolio includes shoots for Uber, Mastercard, ECHO Investment, PURO Hotels, Canon, ERGO Hestia and Skanska. For more of his work, see: instagram.com/hashtagalek