It’s no secret that art in all its various forms has cathartic properties. Photography, poetry, music and film allow self-expression and a therapeutic process to heal the deepest cuts. Self-taught professional photographer Martin Stranka learnt this throughout his whirlwind career, celebrating his 10-year anniversary this year.
Martin has been working as a freelance photographer and showing his work in hundreds of exhibitions around the world. His work focuses on balance, and serenity, existing in “that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening”, he tells Konbini.
Based in Prague, Czech Republic, Martin has won over 50 major international photography awards and has had work featured in South and North America, Europe and Asia. Although his career is now seeing its peak, this wasn’t always Martin’s set path.
Finding therapy in art
Photography saved Martin when he lost a close one in his life 10 years ago in a terrible accident. The medium allowed him to express what he couldn’t necessarily put into words. “I felt like I needed to find something like a ‘valve’ and therapy” he says.
Although he had always been a keen photographer, somehow tragedy aligned with art, and gave the bored business school student a passion and a purpose.
“I put my broken heart into art. “
In some of his more recent work, Martin photographed a number of rescue animals, with the humans who rescued them. Without intending to commit to this topic, it seems that the subject found Martin when he needed it the most. “I only felt quite lonely, and I felt like I needed someone next to me in my personal life”, he says.
According to Martin, animals exhume the symbolism of your loved ones. They manage to somehow fill the gap left by missing someone next to you. He says that it wasn’t necessarily difficult to capture them in photos, as they were used to being close to humans since being rescued. But still as wild animals, sometimes it would take a full day to capture that one perfect shot.
His latest photo, entitled Until You Wake Up sees a white deer in the debris of a car crash, on a snowy winter road. Martin reveals that every photo session is charged with intense emotion, and this one even more so. His photographs give kept-up feelings and emotion a visual and visceral platform, which express personal meaning and also pure symbolism.
Martin sees the animal series as part of his main project, I Found Silence, in terms of the similarities in concept. His work always focuses on looking for inner balance and reaching psychological satisfaction through art.
Photography as a means of documenting and remembering
In an Instagram-fuelled era, we ask Martin whether there is still room for professional photographers in a world that triumphs instantaneity over quality sometimes.
He recognizes the rise in amateur photographers, and embraces it. Our planet is changing at a wildly fast rate, and to have so many people documenting this ongoing evolution on social media platforms accessible to all is extremely valuable, Martin says. This increasing accessibility will be treasured for upcoming generations, and also the accessibility in equipment means that it is now more affordable to take up photography than in past years.
In terms of where Martin finds inspiration for his work — there is no limit. “Sometimes people forget to see the amazing beauty of our daily lives”, he says. Martin focuses on the inherent beauty of nature; animals, as we’ve seen but also the smell and sensation of changing seasons. Colorful autumn leaves and the rich orange hues of a setting sun — it may seem cliché but the hype is always justified.
To celebrate the 10-year milestone in his career, Martin is creating a high-quality art photography book, 10 YEARS. The book will feature his photographs from 2007 to 2017. “I feel that I should end this career decade somehow. I believe that you have to close a door in order to open the next door”, he says.
Originally published on Konbini