Martin Stranka was born in 1984, but got into photography 10 years ago after unexpectedly losing someone close to him and needing an outlet, some sort of therapy.
“I felt like I had to express my self somehow. So I started taking photos and somehow it worked,” Stranka said. “Maybe it’s weird to say that this accident inspired me, but I wouldn’t have gotten involved without it. I turned my broken heart into art.”
Before this, Stranka was a business school student, which he was far from passionate about. Maybe he would have loved to discover photography sooner in life, “but don’t they say that everything happens for a reason?” he said.
Over the years, Stranka’s distinctive photography earned him over 50 major international awards, as his solo and group exhibitions have been showcased throughout America, Europe, and Asia. He’s also collaborated with artists around the world, and now wants to celebrate his 10-year career with “10 YEARS,” a high quality art photography book.
Stranka’s goal is to publish a large, over-100-page book with photographs from 2007 to 2017, and he’s turning to Indiegogo to make it happen. If you purchase a copy, he says he wants it to “draw the attention of every person visiting your home, but also to keep you company on those quiet Saturday nights when you are hiding from the world.”
When we asked the Czech photographer where he finds inspiration for his work, he again refers to the accident that happened 10 years ago. He explains how it made him halt at everyday moments and to soak in life around him, such as the smell of autumn or the sparkling grains of dust floating in the sunset. “Falling leaves, sunsets, the city going to sleep in the evening… It never ceases to amaze me,” he said. “I love to just walk outside, to watch people and to explore scenes.” He’s also very inspired by movies and music, which he calls “endless stimulus.”
Stranka describes his photography as “etched as a unique space located in a balance and serenity. My images exist in that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening.” And post-production is an integral part of it all. “A photo, to me, is the result of a complex process, somewhat similar to having a child. You might know you’ll have a boy or a girl, and you might have a rough idea of how you’d like to shape and educate it, but whether you like it or not, your child will be quite different from your first ideas and wishes.” The same, according to Stranka, happens when you go from a concept or idea to a final print. “Sometimes it takes weeks to finish my artwork,” he added.
The photographer does all his post-processing in Photoshop and shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III, alongside a Canon EF 24-70mm lens. But the most important part? “I use an open mind and closed eyes,” he said. “You have to close your eyes in order to see.”
Stranka thinks his “Until You Wake Up” photo is his strongest shot so far. The crashed car, wintry landscape and deer remind him of the accident that inspired him to start shooting. “I have had this scene in my head for such a long time,” he said. “It’s very personal and symbolic to me, even though taking photos -15° Celsius was out of my comfort zone. But when you step out of your comfort zone, is when the magic happens. Pure feelings and emotions.”
Animals have always played a significant role in Stranka’s work, but the 32-year-old Praguer says that was “not calculated or planned. I just felt lonely and I needed someone by my side, but I didn’t have anyone. So I started taking photos with animals. They symbolize a loved one. And since I have always been amazed by wild forest animals and their pure soul, I decided to start capturing them. As I explained here, most of these wild animals were rescued, so I traveled a lot to visit them and I am so grateful that I get to meet the wonderful people who take care of them.”
Visit Martin Stranka’s Indigogo page if you want to help him realize this “art photography book which will draw attention of every person visiting your home.” To discover more of his distinctive photography, visit his website, Facebook page, or Instagram. See more photos below!