Marian Matta is a master of panoramic mountain photography. As you can see in his online gallery, he has a great ability to capture dramatic vistas from perspectives high up in the mountains. His photos are simply stunning. We have been in sporadic email contact for several years, and recently I asked if he would participate in an email interview, to learn more about his photography. Below are Marian’s answers to my questions.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 48 yrs old and live in Ostrava, Czech republic. Photography is still just a hobby, so I have to attend my normal full-time job. I work for an IT company as a tradesman and sell GPS navigations, PC’s, notebooks and accessories. But photography has been with me my whole life. I’ve all the time been so close to it. Even as a student in the 70’s. At that time, I was longing for photography with a mountain theme but I had no possibilities to buy a camera and shoot it. So I started around 2005 when the digital camera boom started here. I was really inspired with pictures from Patagonia and Dolomites. And so it began… I’ve started step by step to shoot panoramic pictures and I’d like to improve my skills and knowledge in this.
How often do you go hiking in the mountains to photograph? And, how much time do you usually spend out there when you go out? Do you usually go alone or with friends?
The best for me would be to move into the mountains, but this can never become a reality. Once a month, if it is possible with time (depends on job, family etc.) I go for a trip. My trips take 1-3 days but I shoot just 30 minutes before the sun rises up and about 5-10 minutes after it, when colour temperature is most interesting for me. The rest of whole day I’m moving for another good place to shoot the sunset. Most of the time I go on my trips with one friend, a photographer, maximum with two of them. I am not a friend of big groups. There are also trips I go on alone but I keep in mind the necessity of security in the mountains, so it is much better to have at least one other person for help.
What are the most important aspects of a successful mountain photograph?
It is in light – this is the most important point, sunrise – I prefer that light of sunrise.
Conditions – weather, dramatic changes of weather allows to see the countryside in a different way for just few minutes.
Place – attractive, monumental, unique, fluidum, atmosphere…
Then comes technique – for me it is panoramic equipment, which have some kg’s more on weight and surely, good lens.
And last, but most of the time first – to be the right time at a right place.
If you had to pick just one of your photos as your personal favorite, which one would it be and why?
This is really hard question and I am not sure I am able to select the right pictures. But, maybe with the opinion of people, is the panorama from Beskydy Mountains – BESKYDS PINK FLOYD. It was taken in really hard conditions but with magic atmosphere. For this scenery I was waiting the whole night. I was walking over the night to the top of the biggest mountain of Beskydy – Lysá Hora and the picture was taken right 30 sec. before the sun rose.
What are your favorite mountains to visit, and why?
For me the best is to get in the Dolomiti mountains on Italian side. They are “only” 1000 km from my place of living. There are an uncountable amount of bizarre formations, which draw mountain climbers and photographers as well. For 20 years I am there like as home. There’s just a question of money that does not allow me to get there more times and to even better places. But there, I know, I will get later (I would like to), because I have found new and photographically not discovered places of virgin country which makes happy not only one eye…
If you could travel to any mountains in the world where would you go?
Himalaya – this year, April – May 2009, if god allows. I’d like to fulfill my long-time dream and shoot the biggest mountains of the World.
What has been your greatest achievement related to photography so far?
Hard to say, I don’t see myself as a successful or technically skilled photographer. I think, my success begins when I am able to get back into the mountains and shoot there. Everything else is just like a bonus, something that’s really over it. My pictures were printed into calendars, catalogs, on wideside walls in a car factory, in outdoor company catalogs, magazines and, for sure, on hundreds of images on walls, that people buy as an accessory for their interior. What gave me the biggest happiness was presenting an exhibition held in Prague, Hotel Olympic – March 2007 on the occasion of the expedition: MEDEA on CHO YOU and MOUNT EVEREST 2007. Some examples:
Are there any photographers who have inspired you?
I don’t have any concrete ideal. I am not about to copy the style of somebody. But at this time, there are thousands of great photographers who we don’t even know about! On the other hand and without any word, there are also well-known photographers, who are really distinguished in the mountain photography but I don’t want to raise up somebody. I see in work of others lot of inspiration, no matter if it is professional or non-professional photographer. I like photographers who stay modest all the time.
Jack, I’d like to thank you for this possibility to tell my ideas to other photographers of same hobby as I have on the other side of the ocean – to shoot wonderful MOUNTAINS!
Thank you, Marian! I can’t wait to see your photos from the Himalaya. Again, be sure to check out Marian’s website.