The title With Bated Breath symbolically embodies the author’s very emotional approach: my sensitive experiencing of all the images created for this project – with admiration for Nature, the desire to understand her, excitement with the miracle of life, commitment and concern, but also with aesthetic rapture and the ambition of an artistic message. I take it as seriously as I can, as something very solemn, exalted and spiritually noble.

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With Bated Breath is a deep-rooted need and idea to create a new form of expression of image and sound, to discover new sources of aesthetics and emotions in newly defined:


I would like to emphasize with all my might that With Bated Breath is not a documentary project (regardless of the fact that the term document is at least ambiguous in film and photographs – not only for me). It is a fully authorial artistic interpretation of the phenomenon of the eternal life of the Białowieża Primeval Forest in its Polish part – the last remnant of ancient forests of the European lowlands.

It is an aesthetically and emotionally mature vision, manifested through creative photography. It consists of my four very personal views:

    with the majesty of millennia – in Part I. Immemorial,

    of the heartbeat of the primeval forest life – in Part II. Pulsating,

    of wildness of the primeval forest – in Part III. Magical,

    on the fate of the primeval forest – history, present and future – in Part IV. Civilized.

The whole thing is a great collective portrait – a tribute to the continuance of Białowieża’s Magna Mater.

I put all the best I have on the line: all my 40 years of experience in filming and photographing Nature, knowledge, all my skills, fascinations, ambitions and dreams – the sincerest of intentions, from the deep of my creative self. My fervent desire is to create the best masterpiece of my life, a thing that is not only important and enormous, but above all that moves the hearts and minds of sensitive people wherever they may be.

This is how I started the With Bated Breath project: I have a beautiful goal, worthy of my adult years – I am composing an imposing monument about the Białowieża Forest, the work of my entire experience. At the same time, I have an extraordinarily great pleasure and emotion of creation!

I don’t just create captured individual photographs; I bring to life a complex masterpiece on a theme – a thoughtful and planned work – a photographic-film poem. This is what I can, what I desire, what I very much want to give to this Forest from myself.

I also donate these impressions to all related souls. I would like the viewers, while watching my personal portrait of the Białowieża Primeval Forest, to feel emotions and excitement similar to mine, to have a real aesthetic feast, full of sublime impressions, to admire with deep reflection the eternal majesty of the Forest and, at the same time, the phenomenon of every little crumb of life in it. And that ultimately through heart and mind they will stand on the side of the friends of this Amazing Forest.

And what about the Białowieża Forest itself…? It speaks to me with the language of images: light, shapes, colors, atmospheres, compositions, but also with the language of sounds, smells, touch, temperature, moisture – it is a source of endless inspiration for me…

The Primeval Forest is incredibly complex. I cannot embrace it, comprehend it as a whole – it escapes my human perception, grasping it with a simple glance. But in the details – in the moments of observation, in the specific manifestations of life of its organisms and in the phenomena – I discover the meaning of its existence. If I were to define the phenomenon of the Primeval Forest, I would say, without fear of exaggeration, that the Forest is an unceasing power of life that overcomes time… The Forest – the triumph of omnipresent life!

I am a newcomer from the outside who has found his roots in this extraordinary Forest. For many years I have grown close to it. It has taken over me completely. From my personal perspective, I have become part of it. From the perspective of the millennia, probably a fleeting part of it, just a glimpse. There is sadness, but also consolation in the awareness that from the acorns sprouting today, in four centuries – when there will be no trace of me – will grow more than forty meters tall giants…

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A new spring of life – my photographic renaissance

As long as I still am, however, I am happy that, though late, I nevertheless saw and sparked a new opportunity to bring something extraordinary to life. Because the venture With Bated Breath has the power of a new spring in my life, the power of rebirth…

Inevitably, along with age, the time has come when, after almost 40 creative years and several dozen nature films, and a few series, I can and want to declare loudly: I am (we are) ending our life’s adventure with nature film – enough is enough.

Equally loudly I want to declare: I’m just beginning the creative adventure of life!
Intuitively, I have found within myself a reason that will keep me alive for years to come and rejuvenate, at least spiritually. This is my creative rebirth I called this:



Here is what fuels my flame and will consume me completely from now on. I am returning to my infatuation with which I once began a creative adventure – to photography. Now I want it to be intentional and carefully considered photography, shaped only by my expression (emotions and mind), but still studying the world of Nature. That is why, with full awareness, I want to practice personal, authorial, that is subjective art photography understood in my own way.

I have always considered the possibility of self-determination an enormous privilege, as an indispensable condition for creative work, for bringing to life pieces that aspire to be important and useful. Advanced wildlife filmmaking, however authoritative, is nevertheless a team art, dependent on the decisions of many people, and very expensive.

Photography meanwhile, personal photography – is an art for individualists. I admit, this authorial independence of photography has always seduced me. After all the bitter but previously beautiful experiences with film, I decided I wanted to give my best skills and ideas to the allure of photography. Especially if it is somewhat aided by film

Has become! My new spring – following Kabaret Starszych Panów (former distinguished Polish TV show), the so-called old man spring – comes true with each subsequent day of the With Bated Breath project, intentions under the sign of artistic photography. This new passion permeates me through and through, does not let me sleep, haunts me every day. But it is from it that I draw strength, encouragement, fulfillment and great joy.

About the approach to my photography

People often expect to see in a photograph exactly what they saw in reality (what they remember from reality), to see an exact record of objective truth. Simply put, that they will see reality in a photograph.

This is impossible because photography is not reality. Photography does not pretend to be reality. At most photography is an impression of reality. Paradoxically, it is photography – printed or displayed – that becomes a new reality: it is a new real being, but still only imagining the reality recorded on it. Similarly with other media: film is not reality, painting and graphic arts – also, music certainly interprets feelings of reality and imagination.

Of course, in the documentary sense, photography is a reflection of reality, a record of it through a two-dimensional technical medium. However, in the artistic sense, photography is an imagination of reality, i.e. an artist’s interpretation of reality, a suggestion of emotions, an impression of shapes, colors, and above all, light and shade – in a word, the energy flowing from it. I emphasize: interpretation!

Photography has features that distinguish it from the real world, or that impose a new perception of that reality: contrast, specific color (interpretation/translation of real colors), optical specificity (seeing from wide to narrow), optical distortion, etc.

There is no need to fear its otherness, these inherent qualities of photography. On the contrary, if one understands that photography is an independent medium that imagines the vision of its creator, these qualities can help to amplify that vision – be it through its characteristic grain, be it through black and white, be it through the darkness of low key technique or the luminosity of high key, be it through dozens of other qualities inherent in it, not to mention its composition and the whole arsenal of aesthetic means of expression.

In short: a photography makes an impression as a separate existence. Here is a photograph: it has its own expression, it is a finite two-dimensional medium, brought to life by the photographer-creator, and over which the viewers lean and absorb impressions.

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How do I understand and see my art photography (from Nature…) i.e. art photography studied and taken from Nature? First, as a sensitive experiencing the events photographed and being a participant of them. I care about the emotions and reflections in portraying the Primeval Forest by photographs and the aesthetic delight that comes from that.

I try to photograph with sensitivity, but also with the necessary distance – with commitment, understanding and an idea for the photo. I try to get much more out of my models than is superficially visible, to make sense of the existing situation and then to dig deeper. Above all, I am interested to discover in every manifestation of life – in every leaf, blade, flower, mushroom, beetle and spider, but also in a giant oak, spruce, bison or even a wolf – the driving force of the matchless architectural master, the author of Great Aesthetics, Artistry and Harmony: NATURE.

I work on my photographs to be images of great expressive power, atmospheric, at times shouting, at others subtle, then suggestive again, and at the climax of the story I am telling – expressively intensified. Most of them are impressive and sometimes even impressionistic (in the painterly sense). Perhaps the viewers will see in them small photographic lyric poetry (poems) about wildness and something like: now I see better, deeper, more fully, I discover the unknown side of things, I get involved with emotions, feelings.

Although it is difficult, I try to photograph without prejudices and stereotypes – with the openness and delight of a child’s mind, while looking for the best means of expression, even if they were to destroy the well-established canons of imaging. I don’t take pictures because it is appropriate to tell a little bit about everything, to give a smoothed out, easy to read nature compendium, such a seemingly objective picture of the Białowieża Forest. With Bated Breath will in no way be such a guide or key to species identification.

Well, I forgot about universality and objectivity probably once and for all. For me, fully true means through me, that is, to the depths most subjective. Because this is how I feel, this is how I see, this is how I interpret, and this is what I witness with photography. I care only about my personal emotional vision of the microcosm of the remains of the European Ancient Białowieża Forest and the visual admiration for its majesty – the power of amazingly complex and ubiquitous life, inherited over millennia.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © JAN WALENCIK 2021. Except for permitted uses of protected works under international law, including permitted quotations, no part of project With Bated Breath may be used for any publication or exploitation without the written permission of the author and the copyright owner. This refers to the initial materials, ideas, scripts, as well as unfinished and finished works – elements of the project presented on The use of ideas, scripts and finished works published on this website for the purpose of imitating them in foreign works will be treated as plagiarism and will be prosecuted under the law. 


Unfortunately, in 2022, and earlier, from autumn 2021, I could not devote enough time to photographing the Białowieża Primeval Forest. The state of emergency in the border zone, and then the subsequent depressing months with the awareness of human dramas nearby, could not be a scenery in which I could create important, beautiful and sublime photographs. I really hope that 2023 will be much better in this regard. I will do my best to make up for last year’s losses, but perhaps because of them I will have to extend this huge project by one year. Who knows…

With the publication of the WITH BATED BREATH 2023 trailer on YouTube in January 2023 and the AUTHOR’S VISION 2023 trailer, I am initiating the resumption of work this year on my major bilingual project WITH BATED BREATH. 21st CENTURY BIAŁOWIEŻA FOREST: A SUBJECTIVE PORTRAIT 🌐 Z ZAPARTYM TCHEM. PUSZCZA BIAŁOWIESKA XXI WIEKU: PORTRET SUBIEKTYWNY.

AUTHOR’S VISION 2023 trailer. Made by Jan Walencik. © ŻUBROWA 10 JAN WALENCIK  2023.

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