by Editor Yvette Depaepe
Marek Boguszak's work, mostly landscapes, opens wide the gates of imagination. The peaceful stillness and artistic elegance are essential in his imagery. He always strives to capture the delicacy of light, soft shades and a tremendous richness of tones. He definitely has an eye for the beauty in the world. For Marek, photography is all about feelings, emotions and mood. Let's be part of his atmospheric journey and learn more about him through this interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I'm 66 years old. Born in Prague, I lived there or very close to it my whole life.
I'm married and have two Bernese Mountain Dogs. I studied mathematics and worked in the fields of education for several, in sociology for several years. Then I worked for 20 years in market research as co-owner and manager. I'm retired now after being completely burned out. My hobbies are photography since a very young age, hiking and recently sports. Also studying and playing forte piano and learning Italian.
What first attracted you to photography?
I always loved arts and paintings. Photography offered me a great substitution for my inability to draw and/or paint. In the period between 14 and 30 years old, I have spent thousands of hours shooting and developing in the darkroom. The magic from photographing till the final results and blow-ups fully was captivating and enchanted to me.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your photography?
Living in my beautiful home town Prague and hiking in Slovak mountains.
My admiration for the great Czech masters from the period 1930-1960, and essentially the works of Josef Sudek
My fantastic mathematics professor who had a real renaissance personality, exploring everything through his own eyes and mind and sharing it with his students. He was persuaded that a journey is more important than a destination
My visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris
My journey to Tuscany and “Moravian Tuscany” (region of South Moravia near Kyjov)
And last but not least, looking at an endless flow of great photos on the net (obviously, mostly on 1x)
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I am in search of the opposite of what I experienced during the last 20 years I was working which I truly enjoyed but it had also significant negative sides. I am in search of harmony and really want to go with the flow of my feelings without having to be effective and rational. I would love to spend as much time as I want to shoot, to post process without being hunted by deadlines.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
For me, photography is all about mood, feelings, emotions and beauty.
I striving to make photos which are touching to me, to my wife and to many viewers. The utmost judge whether I'm in the right direction is to enjoy my work, even after some time. I hope that I will be able to go forward for a long time.
On the other side and at the same time, part of my vision is quite personal.
A shooting session gives me a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline and a lot of fulfilment, especially if the weather conditions – light, mist, frost, snow, etc. - are great.
When chasing the best light and place / point of view, it happens that I'm running with my bag, camera and tripod in order to get most of this short magic 20-30 minutes of sunrise / sunset. Being persuaded that place A is not as good as place B. Going for B and when arriving I suddenly are convinced that place A was better and I run back I run back J). These sessions rejuvenate and fulfil me completely. It always makes me happy, regardless whether I make some good photos or not. Conclusion is: photographing will keep me going ahead and happy for many coming years.
Why are you so drawn by landscape photography?
I love its endless and ever changing beauty and great palette of moods. I feel good being out alone and being excited when hunting for a good light. My concentration and “openness to feelings and emotions” are quite fragile and shooting landscape mostly does not provide any stressful at all. That’s also why I prefer to take pictures alone.
What is more important to you, the mood / story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Definitely the mood. Technical perfection can and should support, enhance the mood (alas, technical imperfection can sometimes kill the mood), but it cannot create it.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I do like to have information about a new location before my first visit. I study maps, I gather info from photographers, I'm looking at their photos, etc. If possible, I try to get the guidance of a good photographer who knows well my destination for half a day or one day the first time I'm on a new location.
However, I prefer to get intimate with the location myself later on. I try to touch it, to “taste” it, to “sniff” it my way to understand its roots, character and moods.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Nikon D850, lenses 12-24, 24-70, 70-200, 200-500 (Nikon, Tamron, Sigma), sturdy tripod Gitzo, Lowepro bag.
What software do you use to process your images?
Mostly Lightroom and Nik Collection, and a little bit of Photoshop.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I always shoot in RAW. Most of the processing steps are done with Lightroom and NIK software. Currently, I am learning to use more advanced Photoshop techniques to refine my work.
The technical part is the easy one. The critical part of the process is to get the “right” feel about the mood of a photo and to use all photo attributes such as white balance and tint, contrast, clarity, colour saturation etc. Sometimes the mood is corresponding immediately with the original but most of the time I want to enhance the mood. I love this part of my work flow as much as the shooting part.
Usually it takes me about 2-3 hours to finalize the processing of one photo. Sometimes It even happens that I delete everything after 1-2 hours of work when it becomes clear that I cannot achieve the desired mood.
The most difficult part for me is not to exaggerate, not to blow up contrast and saturation which happens to me when I'm working to much on a photo. I try to avoid this trap by coming back to the photo the day after. For most of my photos, I come back to it several times.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in landscape photography and how do you get started?
Always do it your own way, look through your own eyes, listen to your soul and feelings. Do not fall in love with your own photos, and even if you do, constantly strive for your own development.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Josef Sudek, and also other Czech photographers such as Frantisek Drtikol and Jaromir Funke. Just to explain such a strong local and “old” list of favourites: like many others, I have been most influenced by work of great photographers when I was young. At the time, we had very limited access to foreign photographers.
All of them were great masters of mood and light, able to create magic in their work. There is also a genius kind of simplicity and cleanliness in their photos.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
I can’t pinpoint just one photo, but I think the following selection of Sudek’s photos is amazing.
His unique and poetic photos full of mood (frequently melancholic or contemplative), his amazing use of the light amazed and impressed me a lot.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Recently, I feel a little bit stucked in my “old shoes”, routines and views. Therefore I would like to learn from and get inspired by other great photographers via one-to-one training / day together. For instance, I spent one day with Jay Vulture in London this summer. And of the 1x senior critics – Andreas Agazzi agreed to meet me and to teach me a whole day long during the coming fall.
I would love to start shooting more cityscapes in Prague.
I will train myself in “viewing wider”, using much more wide angle lens.
I will strive to clean my compositions, to make them simpler and more impressive, expressing better the mood.
I will visit new locations. A few days from now, I am leaving to Lofoten for the first time.
I also want to learn advanced techniques in Photoshop to have more tools to achieve my photographic work.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you
I like the melancholic mood of the almost empty park in the winter, the freezing dawn with very smoggy and soft light, typical for Prague in the winter. For me, the walking couple emanates harmony and intimacy, they are enjoying the dawn’s serenity and their loneliness together in the Centre Park of Prague.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I think I have learned and I am still learning a lot on 1x and I would like to thank:
- The curators for their excellent work, I learned a lot from the rejections of my submissions.
- The Senior Critics for their great help, support and advice
- The editorial team and in particular Yvette Depaepe
- All the members/ fellow photographers for sharing their highly inspiring work and for the kind comments on my photographs.