What do I shoot?

So, in my last post I turned around and asked myself how was my photography year. In today’s post I will turn around again to view my photos of this year that is coming to its end.

I made lots of photos. I was photographing with not so clear intent. Therefore my public photos has been of various themes. And therefore it was easy to get distracted my path. I didn’t have a road map. So I organized my photos, selected favorites of 2016 and thought about them. I realized that there are themes and places where I was shooting more often. And that there are photos that I feel stronger connection with.

Most of the time, when I was making decision “where I am going to shoot today?” I was drawn  by some invisible  “magnetic” force to the periphery areas. To the districts with poor people, mostly gypsies, living in ruined houses, areas with social problems. But I wasn’t looking for the poorness, decay and sadness. This wasn’t my subject. I have been looking for traces of people and life in these areas. It is almost “culture within the culture” with different pace, with different rules, attitude and values. And somehow I feel people’s liberty side by side with poorness. It is an old word, that has not disappeared yet.  I am fascinated by all of this, and that’s why I want to capture it while places like this still exists.

I often end up wandering in those areas that people call ghettos. They are not necessarily at the border of the city, they are often part of the city centers. In Ostrava I know couple of such places and  I keep coming back there. Just like today and yesterday.

These streets are always very alive. No matter how cold or hot it is, there are always people around, walking here and there. Especially kids. I already know faces of some of the kids I see there. These kids are always excited to see a man photographing around. Up to five or seven years of their age, they would ask me to make a photo of them. That would make them very happy. They would dance or do funny faces. They even run to me along the whole street and ask me to make a photo of them. They don’t seem to be shy. Sometimes they don’t even ask to check LCD to see the photo. They are happy to be on the photo and that’s all. Also, I am a strange intruder that comes to their territory, so they are very curious. Well, adults not so much as they don’t show interest to see me around.

So the first series, or theme, that I am aware of is “people/life in the periphery”. Not necessarily gypsies, but people at the edge of the society in general (homeless, junkies, beggars etc.).

But there is also other theme that shows up in my favorite photos, but my intent has unclear contours. I can’t name yet. This would be represented by photos from the dark underpasses, train stations, pubs. With lonely people. Blurred and grainy. Showing raw, cold and grey environment. People lost in the city, with their souls, troubles. And maybe lost in the time.

I have a path to walk on. I have themes to develop yet and explore in 2017.

documentary photography
Kojetin, October 2016
documentary photography
Baska, September 2016
documentary photography
Ostrava, October 2016
documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016
documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016
at home, shadows
Baska, at home, September 2016
¨street photography
Ostrava, October 2016
street photography
Ostrava, October 2016
street photography
Ostrava, October 2016

documentary photography
Celadna, October 2016

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How was my photography year?

So, how was my photography year? In short – it was a good year.

I was out making photos nearly every day.

While contemplating about past year all I have to do is to go through the photos I made. They show how my year was.

It wasn’t always straight. There ware several struggles along the way.

I was struggling with photography style and philosophy. Finding direction, loosing it and rediscovering the path that is right for me. It happened twice during this short period of time. Each return to my path made my stance stronger.It wasn’t without sense. I am glad for the battles I had.

I was also struggling with my social media presence. Now, I worry less about likes and attention. I care and I listen other people’s opinions, but I am trying not to be driven/affected by them.

I started a new blog in May. I stopped blogging for a while. Than I re-started it and moved the blog to a new place.

Also, I was struggling with my photo book (s). I ditched my finished photo book project, because I was listening to what other people were saying instead of listening to myself. It had a connection to my struggles with photography style and philosophy. After all I started again and I finished the book. Later I even finished another book.

I must thank to two nice guys who supported me when they saw me sitting on the train that was going backwards. They would know if they get to read this.

But my year wasn’t only about struggles. Most importantly it has been fantastic 365 days with my Oly – my companion, camera, that was with me all the time. I breathed. And I was alive.

documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

street photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016

reflection in the water
Ostrava – Hermanice, September 2016

street photography
Ostrava, September 2016

documentary photography
Baska, September 2016
fence
Ostrava, September 2016

documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016

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Machine guns on Christmas markets

Strange feeling to see police crews with machine guns on every town square with Christmas markets these days. A reaction to terrorist attack in Berlin. Concrete blocks were placed to every entrance of the town square or public area to prevent vehicles to enter the space. So far I have seen it in Ostrava and Frydek-Mistek, but I suppose it is happening in every bigger town. It is supposed to calm people down when they see armed police on the street. In my case it has rather opposite effect. Disturbing and strange feeling to see machine guns on the street. Especially during Christmas time. I bet it must be similar in other European countries. Times are changing. It is a new element of insecurity and fear in people’s minds.

I wish happy and calm holidays to all.

Photos below were captured in September and doesn’t correspond with the text.

black and white photography
Ostrava, September 2016

documentary photography, pub
Baska, September 2016

street photography, gypsy
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

black and white photography
Ostrava – Vitkovice, September 2016

street photography
Ostrava – Privoz, September 2016

street photography, gypsy
Ostrava – Privoz, September 2016

black and white photography
Ostrava – Provoz, September 2016

documentary photography
Mikuluvka, September 2016

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December trip to Prague

So, I was on a two day trip to Prague. Aim was to visit three photography exhibitions, meet my friends Radek and Martina who had recently moved in the city and to shoot some photos. Mission 100 % completed.

Prague is too crowded. Too many tourists that want to see historical center of the city. Christmas markets on every square I passed. I wasn’t sight seeing. I walked around and photographed people – beggars, homeless, junkies, street performers, people in the subway, Japanese tourists taking selfies on Charles bridge, shadows of the people and statues. And of course I made couple of photos from the train window. I am already looking forward to see some of the photos when they are processed.

I was happy to see some photography exhibitions as there are always lots of events going on in Prague compared to Ostrava. Hard to compare these two cities actually. Ostrava looses in this field. No doubt.

First exhibition I had visited was in newly opened gallery in Czech Photo Centre. They were displaying works of Jaroslav Kucera – documentary photographs from Sudetenland (Sudety) mostly captured in 90’s. He photographed people from social periphery. Moreover the area where he was photographing was considered as periphery for decades. I enjoyed it a lot and I also purchased a book that was published along with this exhibition.

Second exhibition I had visited was displaying photographs by Tomki Nemec and the exhibition was about Vaclav Havel. Tomki Nemec was a personal photographer of president Vaclav Havel. This exhibition takes place in DOX  center of contemporary arts. It was special for me. Partly because I like photography style of the author and partly because I liked the former Czech president V. Havel. One room, which was also part of this exhibition was filled with photographs of another photographer Bohdan Holomnicek, who was Havel’s friend and he was photographing him since 70’s. He made many strong photos of Havel, his wife and friends, but their presentation isn’t ideal in my opinion. Many small prints were fixed on one huge wall, which made it difficult to focus on particular photo. Some more significant and stronger photos were a little bit lost among others I think. All in all it is a fantastic exhibition. And, a book called Vaclav Havel – Tomki Nemec, Photographs is on my wishlist for this Christmas.

 I don’t visit Prague very often, so I wanted to use my time well. So, at the end of my short trip I had visited exhibition Czech Press Photo 2016 . Exhibition of winning photographs from the  annual journalistic photography contest.This exhibitions is situated in the Old Town Hall on Old Town Square in a historical center. As there were Christmas markets there were thousands of people outside and I was hardly able to get through the crowd of tourists. But I got inside. Some of the photos and some categories were interesting, but I don’t understand the whole concept of this contest. It is supposed to be a journalistic photography contest, but there are too many categories that are weakening the impact of the whole exhibitions/contest/. We could see photos from war areas on one wall and than there was a series called “boredom in ZOO” on a next wall. I had mixed feelings. But still I liked works of couple photographers  – Ton, Hurych, Klicperova, Dvorak, Zajac. Overall, I think it is unbalanced in terms of themes/categories and various quality of photos.

I saw this exhibition just an hour before a departure of my train. While waiting on my delayed train I made photos of people waiting on a main train stations.

I was happy I used my time well.

And I was happy to escape from the hectic city when I finally sat in the train.

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

documentary photography
Ostrava – Vitkovice, July 2016

documentary photography
Ostrava – Privoz, September 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

documentary photography
Ostrava, September 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, August 2016

documentary photography
Frydek-Mistek, September 2016

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Liberation

When I wrote about my process of liberation from social media noise half a year ago, I also thought I was recovered from all the liking and commenting madness. But I wasn’t back than. Not completely. I was still partly hooked on checking the statistics, likes and comments. For example I would be disappointed if someone who’s opinion is important for me would not give me a feedback on my photo.

I think I do much better now. Well, I am here. I share photos. I want the photos to be seen. But I am also realizing the worth of my photos. Their worth for myself. I am still not completely detached from all the social media. I use them, but more reasonably.

There is less buzz and talk around my photos, but I feel happier with photos I produce and share.

For example a photo of a grey sky with pigeon and top of the grain mill gives me very good feeling. I feel satisfaction. And that is very strong feeling.

documentary photography
Kojetin, September 2016
street photography
Ostrava, July 2016
street photography
Ostrava, July 2016
street photography
Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

street photography
Ostrava, July 2016

street photography
Ostrava, July 2016

street photography
Ostrava, July 2016

street photography
Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

street photography
Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

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Likes for likes

Likes for likes. Comments for comments. Visit my blog and I will visit yours. Be my friend and I will be nice to you.

Superficial culture. Very egocentric. Very false. Very much used among people sharing their photos on social media sites. Instant benchmark. Instant likes. Untrue. No freedom.Chained by judgments of others.

There is a lack of deep interest.

A formula for popular image maker on social media:

Be social. Like a lot. Talk a lot. Give feedback. Say nice things about photos of your social media pals. Soon people will like you and they will be nice to you too.

Talking about Flickr, Facebook, 500px, Instagram, Tumblr….. WordPress. Even WordPress blogs are infected by social media disease. As long as liking, sharing and following functions are present there it is same principle as any other social media site.

Second formula for making popular image:

Make a photo that you think will be in taste of other people. So if you friends like landscapes, than you will be successful with showing landscape photos. If you friends like this, than give it to them and they will praise you.

So. I would not recommend anybody to try to be popular. You will loose a big part of yourself.

Success of photo can’t be measured on social sites.

Ostrava, July 2016

Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

Ostrava, July 2016

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Personal work

Yesterday I managed to get outside at around 3 pm. So I had about 60 minutes till dark. I made a couple of shots with fast shutter speed (1/250). But when it was getting darker, I thought I will not fight with lack of light, but I will use it to capture the mood of the street life during the dusk. To interpret my mood of place and time of this cold December afternoon.

So, I switched from Auto Iso (which is my default setting) to Iso 100. Lowest value on my Olympus. I had set shutter speed to a 0,5 a second or so. And than I entered the world of…. blur, movements and lights… I even tried some panning and some photos looked really good on the display. I am looking forward to see this set processed. Oh well, after I eventually step forward to process photos from autumn.

I like what you said this week. That our photos are like selfies of ourselves. It is important thing to be aware of.  Hopefully, other people will find my selfies interesting. Hopefully, I will look good on my “selfies”.

Frydek-Mistek, July 2016
Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

Frydek-Mistek, July 2016
Ostrava, July 2016
Frydek-Mistek, July 2016

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