Photo project

I Always Wanted to Be a Princess

Polish photographer Magdalena Klyta is scared of growing up. To come to terms with this inevitable process, she created a series of self-portraits that helped her feel like a little princess again.
Magdalena Klyta

Photographer. She studied journalism at the University of Wroclaw, and is currently studying at the Art Academy of Szczecin. She is a laureate of the Grand Press Photo competition in the Young Poland category (2022).

— I’ve been interested in photography since childhood, but I only started taking it seriously a few years ago. I really wanted to be a photojournalist, but soon realized that it’s quite difficult for a newcomer to break into that field. So I agreed to work as a journalist and photojournalist for a small local media outlet, which opened the door for me to attend the biggest events in Upper Silesia , such as athletics meetings, strikes, events attended by the president and prime minister, music festivals, and more. I learned how to be a photojournalist mainly by watching professional photojournalists at work.

While I’m mostly interested in reportage photography, capturing people and rural life, I also enjoy delving deep into myself and exploring personal themes in series like the one I titled ‘I Always Wanted to Be a Princess’.

I enjoy delving into myself and reflecting, which is how this series came about.

This project is the result of a year-long mentoring program with Sputnik Photos under the guidance of Agnieszka Rayss. I wanted to showcase a unique rural culture, focusing on typical moments such as dressing up in their best clothes for church, meeting with families every weekend for any occasion, gathering berries in the forest, walking barefoot on the grass, and taking the only morning bus to the city school, which is located 30 kilometers away from home.

the southeastern part of the historical-geographical region of Silesia, located mainly in Poland.

Thank God no one saw me taking the photos because it looked ridiculous. I would set up the camera on a self-timer, pose, and then after five shots, I would run to the camera to activate the self-timer again and repeat everything.

The working process was quite chaotic, just like my personality, so I was taking pictures in really different times in a day. I would take the camera, different clothes, and make a plan. Most of the shots were taken in the yard and house of my grandmother, where I spent my childhood.

The wedding dress in one of the photos belonged to my mother. The picture was taken in the winter morning and I was literally freezing. In the unicorn costume, I posed in the field near the house. The neighbors probably still think that I’m some crazy person who walks, dances, and jumps in the middle of the field in winter.

Thank God no one saw me taking the photos because it looked ridiculous.

I was most struck by the reaction of some people to the project. Even those who grew up in the city immediately understood what I was trying to convey with these photos. Many girls said, “Wow, I had the same Barbie” or “I always dreamed of this Barbie house,” and so on. I reminded them of their childhood. This is the most important thing, because I also see my childhood in pinky colors — as a time of happiness and playing with toys, being free and happy.

I am gradually entering adult life and I am very afraid of it. I didn’t want my childhood to end because I still want to be a princess. Moreover, while working on the project, I played with my old toys and had a great time rediscovering them.

Now I am finishing my studies at the Academy of Arts in Szczecin. My master’s project is a documentary project about demonological beliefs in a village. The old people told me amazing stories about rural witches, ghosts, and death. After those stories, I was even afraid to go home.

Even those who grew up in the city immediately understood what I was trying to convey with these photos.

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