Karolina Wojtasik, Fueled on Yak's Milk and Adrenaline, Shoots People

Those of you who went to this Saturday's Art Walk may have caught a glimpse of Karolina Wojtasik portrait photography series "{Sundara} Faces of India" at Gallery I/D. She spent two months riding rickshaws and motorcycles through India and Nepal, taking locals up on their hospitality, and snapping their portraits. Wojtasik recounts that their consistent happiness floored her, so it's curious that the most striking element of her portrait series is the solemnness of their expressions.

"I'd say pretend you're meditating because a lot of them were Buddhist so they would go into that mode and I would snap the shot. I only took two or three frames for each person. I know when I have it. I don't need to shoot a whole lot," Wojtasik explains.

By day, this Brooklyn photographer does commercial work for MTV,

Lifetime, and A&E. But Wojtasik satisfies her creative urges with

her documentary work around the world. She studied pre-med as an

undergrad, crammed in art classes, and while the rest of her class was

graduating, she was off in Saudi Arabia snapping images.

For this portrait series, Wojtasik, armed only with her compact camera equipment, Lonely Planet,

and a small knife, traveled through South Asia looking for interesting faces. She often stayed and ate with the subjects in the portraits, who were more than generous with their meager resources.

She remembers that before she trekked on,

"They had me drink yak's milk - it's thick, almost like yogurt - and

they'd say 'For strength, for strength.'" When the terrain got tough,

she tempted fate by hitching rides with some suspect characters. "Basically,

I was in a car for six hours traveling over the Himalayas to Katmandu

with a guy that spoke no English who I just met."

Next up, Wojtasik ventures to Siberia (in addition to shooting for A&E's Hoarders and Intervention). But maybe she'll be inspired to snap some portraits of Miami's characters while she's in town for her show's opening.

You can see "{Sundara} Faces of India" at Gallery I/D (2531 NW

Second Ave., Miami) until August 28. The gallery is open Tuesday

through Sunday, 12 to 5p.m., and by appointment. Call 305-753-2881 or

visit www.galleryid.com.

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