Martin Morávek
Martin Morávek

Martin Morávek

TIFA 2022 Interview with Martin Morávek
1st Place winner in Nature, Non-Professional, “Moravian Tuscany”

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you develop a passion for photography?

I got into photography by a stroke of luck in 2019. I borrowed a camera from a friend and tried to capture something interesting. I knew absolutely nothing about shooting technique, composition. Maybe that’s why I liked to take pictures of almost everything.I subjectively ranked and judged the photos, but didn’t pay much attention to any classic criteria. It was only with time that I discovered that each genre has its own specifics, rules and different approach. For me, landscape photography eventually won out. You could say that it changed my life. Thanks to it, I started to travel and became interested in places I had never heard of before. In the artistic direction, meeting Marian Kuric and Filip Hrebenda was a turning point for me. I participated in several of their landscape workshops.  There I learned how to work with light, composition and post processing techniques. These two people are great role models, because from them I draw inspiration and enthusiasm for artistic photography. They also taught me to see nature through the eyes of a landscape photographer, who tries to capture its beauty, transformations and share its atmosphere with the viewer. And also that I still have a lot to learn 🙂

Q: Could you provide more details about how you captured this award-winning photograph? What was the main idea behind it, and how did you go about constructing it?

The photo was taken in Moravian Tuscany, a wine region in the Czech Republic that is famous for its picturesque vineyards, rolling fields and groves. This area really enchanted me. It is also one of the most visited places among photographers.

I have visited the area twice so far, in spring and autumn. In spring everything plays with a palette of green lush colors, in autumn gold and shades of brown predominate. The landscape here is as colorful as the colors on an old master’s canvas. There is also an advantage for the photographer that the landscape changes in those seasons, perhaps from day to day. And the play of light and shadow in the early morning and evening!  All this gives an unrepeatable atmosphere. 

My picture was taken at sunset, when I was waiting for the unbelievable lights and shadows. The sun passes over the terrain, creating a contrast in the landscape between the area in shadow and the parts still lit up. The coloured background gives it the current state of the field, which has not yet had time to change color. I believe if I had been there a week late, it would not have stood out anymore. This is also where I took full advantage of the long focal length, this particular image was captured on a Sigma 150-500, which is probably my most used lens there. Then all you had to do was find the right composition and hope that a cloud didn’t come and take away the last of the sunlight, as it usually does

Q: What does it mean to you to get this award?

I have to admit, it’s quite a shock to me. I really never dreamed I’d be able to do something like this. When you have been shooting for such a short time as I have, you see your  limits and reserves compared to other photographers, you just don’t expect such an award.  The main reason for my participation in the photography competition is not even to win an award, but to get feedback from a wider audience, from other fellow photographers and art critics. I try to continue to work with the criticism and gradually improve.  And this will certainly not change after this competition. Winning is a huge honor for me and a great motivation to continue in my work. I appreciate the award very much and thank the jury once again. 

Q: Photography is a great medium for communicating various messages to people. What are your thoughts on this tool and how do you use it?

Yes, photography is a beautiful medium. It is amazing how the art of the photographer, using a mechanical tool, transforms the ordinary reality of the day into something extraordinary that can uplift the spirit of both the photographer and his viewer. 

When three people photograph a subject from the same place at the same moment, the result can be three images with completely different settings. That’s because each photographer imprints something different of himself into the image. This creativity and how a photograph can capture a unique moment and preserve it for yourself and others is what I enjoy most about photography. 

So I think photography teaches us to better perceive our surroundings, the world. And it doesn’t matter if you are actively photographing or enjoying the resulting image in a gallery. The beauty of photography should bring people together.

Q: What would you say best describes your photography and your style?

In my photographs I try to capture the best contrast of light and shadow, balance the colors, and all that to match the main theme of the picture. The aim is to create a harmonious functional whole. As I mentioned, I still don’t consider myself a ” complete” photographer, so my style is evolving. 

Q: What one thing do you wish you had known before you started taking pictures?

That the basis of good photography is, among other things, a quality lens.

Q: Could you tell us what photography gear you personally like to use?

In the early days of my photography, I didn’t avoid some mistakes and unnecessary investments when buying equipment. Later, when I knew what I wanted to achieve, it was not difficult to fine-tune my equipment.

My first camera was a borrowed Nikon D5600. Then I bought a Nikon D7200 and now I use a Nikon Z6II. The lenses I use are Nikon S series wide angle 14-30, 24-70 and 50 and 85mm for portraits. The image quality of these lenses is excellent. I also use magnetic ND filters and VFFOTO transition filters. The tripod I have is LEOFOTO Ranger LS-324C. Its advantage is good load capacity and most importantly I can get almost to the ground with it, which is more important for landscape photographers. I carry everything in a Shimoda Explorer 50 backpack. 

It’s not high-end equipment, but if you learn to use it effectively, it won’t limit you.

Q: What would you say are some essential tools for new photographers?

A starting photographer should first figure out what he or she wants to shoot before spending money on equipment and accessories.. This will avoid collecting things that you won’t need. That’s why I would recommend renting and testing new gear. I don’t think it matters what brand it is, all the major manufacturers have comparable products. I also recommend finding an inspiring advanced photographer and someone who can walk you through the workflow. Nowadays it’s quite easy, you can find quality photos and amazing photographers on various photography forums or social networks. 

Q: Whose work has had the greatest impact on you?

I don’t have a degree in the history of photography, so I hope all the photography pioneers and respected experts will forgive me for not mentioning them. As I wrote above, as far as landscape photography is concerned, I was fundamentally influenced by the photographs of Marian Kuric and Filip Hrebenda. Looking at their photos, I knew that this was the style and result I wanted to approach. I enjoy their composition, colors, overall concept and actually their approach to photography. Every shoot with them was relaxing and fun. Entertainment where I also learned a lot and it always gave me something I could use in my next shooting. But of course I also follow other photographers, like Martin Rak, Daniel Řeřicha and Jiří Benda from the Czech Republic, from Romania it’s Zsolt András Szabó and others.

Q: What are your future plans? Do you have any exciting projects going on right now that you could tell us about?

I would like to go to Iceland in the spring with Filip and Marian. It’s a place I find very photogenic, and the guys have always brought back amazing photos. After returning from Iceland, it might be a good time to return to Moravian Tuscany, weather permitting. In the meantime, I’ll definitely do some portrait shoots and I’ll also definitely return to Bohemian Switzerland, which I love to visit and which also has a great atmosphere. And we’ll see…

Q: If you had limitless funds for a dream project, what would you do?

If I had unlimited funds, I would definitely travel more. There are many places I would like to go with my camera, just to name a few, Slovenia, France, Norway, Italy (Dolomites again and now Tuscany), Slovakia, where there are amazing places in the High and Low Tatras, Madeira again, Portugal, USA. I would have a great time everywhere.