by Low Lai Chow in New Photography on Wednesday 20 February 2013

Polish photographer Marcin Ryczek was in Krakow when he saw a guy feeding swans and ducks. The sheer beauty of the stark contrast between his dark figure against the snow-covered land, and between the white swans against the dark waters and er, dark ducks, has led to this picture surfacing everywhere on the Internet and shared like crazy. Everyone seems not to notice that these swans seem a bit of a bully with their duck-nudging tactics. Apparently the swans in Britain aren’t the nicest birds around either.

UPDATE: We caught up recently with Marcin Ryczek and got him to give more behind-the-scenes information at how the swan photo came about. Here’s a little taste of our interview with the award-winning photographer.

Your best known photo is “A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow.” How did that come about? What’s the story behind it?

First, I saw an unusual contrast painted over nature: white snow and the black of the Vistula River, cut off from each other by an equal line of water. This scene reminded me of a yin-yang symbol and that was the initial concept for this image. Through nature, on a black background appeared white swans and on the black background, a white figure. So I photographed the moment, admiring this extremely simple and reflective scene. The ambiguity of this image stimulates the imagination and emotions, encouraging individual interpretation and reflection.