“For me nature and the relationship between people and nature are infinite sources of inspiration. I live in a capital city (Prague, Czech Republic). The everyday stress of the big city is in contrast with nature and the calm that a man can find there. Music and movies also inspire me. Oftentimes, my own dreams are a muse.”
Martin Stranka, a native of the Czech Republic, is a self-taught professional photographer. Martin was a bored student plodding through courses in business school when the unexpected death of a close friend led him to pursue photography as a form of therapy. His distinctive vision of photography is etched as a unique space located in a balance and serenity, while his sophisticated and rewarding images exist in that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening. Martin creates images that appear to be stills from a film — one that walks the line between fantasy and reality.
During the last years, Martin has won over 100 major international photography awards and his solo and group exhibitions have been seen from South and North America, through Europe, all the way to Asia. His photographs have been exhibited from South and North America, through Europe, all the way to Asia.
What was your career path before your photography took off?
I worked in the HR department for one foreign company. I have to say that I really loved that job. I was in charge of receiving and leading interviews and staff training. I always enjoyed working with people. I always enjoyed communication with people.
Please tell us about the process of developing your personal style and its evolution.
I would say that my style has been the same since my early career. From the beginning of my career, when my photography was just a hobby, I was looking for inner peace, and equilibrium. I lost someone really close to me and I was looking for recovery in my life. I was in a moment when I needed to find a re-equilibrium in my life. And so I took all my student finances and bought my first camera.
From the beginning, my photographic style was about emotions, the unspoken ones that I hid in the photos. Audience (viewers) then can find their stories and interpretations into the photographs.
Your style is often described as ‘dream-like’ and ‘magical’ by others, but how would you describe your own work?
In many interviews, the editors call my work surrealistic. But I have to say that this is my own reality. That's why I do not take my photography as something unrealistic but, on the contrary, it's a part of my everyday vision of the world. If I should categorize my work, then I would definitely call it Fine Art Photography.
How long would you say it takes to turn a concept in your mind into a finished image?
It depends. Some photographs like “Holes In The Sky” (www.martinstranka.com/blackless/image/0) are literally created in an hour by circumstances. However, most photos from my most important and successful series “I Found The Silence” (www.martinstranka.com/ifoundthesilence) are planned for several weeks and months because of the difficulty and time-consuming scenes. The shooting can last for one day. The following post-production on the photograph is also a question of several days of work. It's possible for me to work on it for even tens of hours.
In this digital era, photographs sometimes become closer to paintings. We believe some of your works have this property. They have this dreamy look, also an atmosphere of unusual beauty. Where do your ideas come from?
I love digital cameras because I enjoy tremendous freedom. Inspiration is everywhere around us in everyday life. I know it might sound like a cliché, but it is really true. For me nature and the relationship between people and nature are infinite sources of inspiration. I live in a capital city (Prague, Czech Republic). The everyday stress of the big city is in contrast with nature and the calm that a man can find there. Music and movies also inspire me. Oftentimes, my own dreams are a muse.
Do you intend to convey a message in your works? If this is the case, what do you want to transmit?
I have to say that in every photo I have my own personal and intimate story. That's why I do not like to explain every single photo. I rather leave a free space for the viewers to find their own stories and emotions. I was not even able to publicly talk about my work, I felt like I was naked. After 12 years I've got used to it and today I'm able to expose people to the hidden personal stories behind my work.
You mentioned that nature has always been your biggest inspiration. What else inspires you?
Every day in my life is inspiration. It is true that there are sometimes more inspirational moments for me. All positive or negative impressions are always more inspirational than when “nothing happens”. I need to touch the highest sky or the lowest bottom to feel more inspiration.
We admire the exquisite level of detail in your works. What particular work in your entire production did you enjoy the most and why? Is there any that gives you more gratifications?
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoy the amount of detail in my work. I have to say that I am identified the most with the latest works from the series “I Found The Silence” (www.martinstranka.com/ifoundthesilence). This series is the most symbolic for me. I can find myself and my personal experiences in these works. For me, the most important artwork is still “Until You Wake Up” (www.martinstranka.com/prints/until-you-wake-up). It contains everything I've ever lost, everything I've ever seen and everyone I have met so far. I would say it is my whole life in one photograph.
Do you believe we live in a surreal world?
I believe in things that are somewhere between heaven and earth. If it's unreal, I do not know. I have created my own world where I can hide when I need it. In my studio, I have my photographs everywhere around me. I have tens of photographs here, which are the biggest oasis of peace for me.
What, in your opinion, are the elements that make a photograph stand out as an original piece of art?
Uniqueness, being genuine, honesty and having its own way (style).
What is next for Martin Stranka? Are there any future projects you would like to share with us?
Every month is better and better. More and more people are discovering my work (www.martinstranka.com/prints), and more and more art collectors and world galleries are contacting me. It all gives me the feeling that I'm going the right way. If everyone continues this way, I will be really grateful and happy.