"Cala become relatively well known in Poland but he is still little known in the West, despite the fact that his work bears comparison with masters such as Bill Brandt and Robert Frank."
- Bill Kouwenhoven, British Journal of Photography, 2007
Michal Cala was born in Toruń, Poland in 1948 and studied aircraft construction in Warsaw at the University of Technology in the early 1970's. From 1974 to 1983 he worked as an engineer in various companies in Silesia, and began photographing in the area. In 1977, he moved to Tychy in Upper Silesia, where he co-founded the photographers' association KRON and become a member of the ZPAF - the Union of Polish Art Photographers.
Relatively unknown outside of his native country, his work is in several museum collections in Poland; in the Silesian Museum of Katowice, the Silesian Library in Katowice, the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom, the Coal Mining Museum in Zabrze as well as local government building in Duisburg in the Ruhr (Germany) and various private collections. His work has received much acclaim and won numerus awards; among which are the Grand Prix at the Polish Landscape Biennale in Kielce twice, 1979 and 1983 and won the first prise at the Pilsner International Photo Awards in the Industrial category in 2007. His work from Galicia series and the Paysages de Pologne exhibition was shown in France in 1980's. The Silesia exhibition was shown widely in Katowice (1984, 2002, 2008), Krakow (1986, 2006), Warsaw (1986, 2009), in Enschede, the Netherlands, (2012), at the Photo Biennale Mannheim - Ludwigshafen - Heidelberg (2007) and part of group project at the Noorderlicht Photo Festival in the Netherlands (2008). In 2007 he was classified as one of most important Polish photographers in last century and participated in the group exhibition Polish Photography in XX Century (Warsaw, Poland and Vilnius, Lithuania). In the same year, Cala's photography was featured in British Journal of Photography and Foto8 magazine.
Publications on his work include The Anthology of Polish Photography 1839 - 1989, The Masters of Polish Landscape and The Polish Photography in the 20th Century.
In 2007 Michal Cala was invited to take part in the exhibition presenting photographs of 100 most important Polish photographers in the 20th century: „Polish Photography in 20th Century" - Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw.
His latest exhibition Metropolis on Silesian urban landscapes was held at the Silesian Museum in Katowice in 2013 and a solo show Silesia and Galicia in the Museum of History of Photography in 2016 in Krakow (Poland). His photo book based on the same series was recently selected in the Open Submission at Belfast and Athens Photo Festivals respectively (2017).
"The work of Polish photographer is impressive, not merely for the strength of his elegiac black and white photography from coal mining areas of Silesia which resembles the best of Robert Frank's work from Wales, but also for their documentary power in depicting an area and industry now fast disappearing, the industrial Poland of the 1970's and early 1980's before the fall of Communism."
- Foto8 Magazine, 2007