Text: Soňa Zajačeková, Erik Stríž
Cover photo: © Martin Vrabko
Photos: © Filip Kulisev, Master QEP, FBIPP
Filip, what did year 2015 bring to you? Was it more productive, more worthwhile than other years?
We usually travel for about six or seven months in a year. I cannot say that we visited something better or something worse. It comes up to so many places and countries after all these years. Last year I took a lot of photographs of Slovakia. Mostly winter photos, and I was using a drone. A drone helped me in Australia, as well as on 18 islands of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, to take pictures of places where I could not use a helicopter. It is often impossible to get one in these island countries. Results of drone photography are pretty and interesting.
Plenty of breathtaking places – but 6 to 7 months is a long time. Who accompanies you when travelling?
I travel with my wife Zuzka. We have been walking our life journey together for 25 years now and together we built this project, too. She is my angel, my assistant, she is everything I could wish for.
Will there be a new book coming out this year?
Yes, it will be my eight publication, the Element. The launch will take place at Bratislava Castle at the beginning of September and it will get on booksellers’ shelves the same month. It is not a book of stories like Zoom and Zoom 2, but a pictorial book containing the best photographs from recent years, categorized by climatic zones. Interestingly, Element is published in Slovak and English with its foreword written by the Slovak president Andrej Kiska.
You visit places that could disappear from world maps in a few decades. What is your attitude to global warming?
As it is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Our planet has been warming up since the Ice Age without human input, we are only an accelerator. We often travel to places that are disappearing from maps. For example, some islands in Polynesia like Tuvalu or Kiribati get a lot of publicity because of this. I only had the chance to see these islands at the end of the last year – so the impression is still vivid. Direct effects of global warming on people are clearly visible there. After our arrival in Kiribati, we saw a huge Chinese ship transferring sand from the ocean bottom to the shore.
Do you focus on creating an ecological awareness?
It would not be exactly true if I said that I travel to point out how everything disappears or to focus on climate change. I don’t give a signal about how bad and negative it is here. I am showing how beautiful it is. And that is important to me. People can fill in any messages behind that for themselves. So I take it from the positive angle. Our Earth is beautiful and this beauty needs to be protected.
In your view, what is the role of art and beauty in life?
I am fascinated by remote exotic countries; by heat and cold, by different photographically interesting and important places and their colors, fauna and flora. I admire this pure beauty of nature. Many people want me to write professional texts or to give lessons. But I am only a technical part of it all, who wants to document it and present it visually. I know that many people consider me an artist and some awards would suggest so as well, but it is not how I see myself.
Do you think a degree is necessary if someone wants to pursue photography?
My profession is not photography. I studied tourism and came to photography through that. It was a development, a process that took several years. Many photographers do not have a degree in this area. The practical part feels closer to me, not theory. And I am very content, satisfied and happy that I can live this dream of mine.
Many would consider your life a dream come true. Which of your dreams are still waiting to manifest?
There are many things I would still like to achieve. In any case, I am convinced that a person never reaches a maximum after which nothing follows. Karol Kállay Sr. said to me once: ”Filip, you are so lucky, you have achieved everything that can be achieved in landscape photography“ – and he meant it in a good way. I do not agree completely and I am far from having accomplished everything. But I am satisfied. Things are going well and I am moving forward. There is always space for improvement and learning; the important thing is how high you set the bar. No one is the worst or the prettiest – it is always an opinion from a person’s point of view and their perception of you.
You have met many famous people. What would you say about Prince Albert of Monaco?
I am lucky to know several people distinguished in their respective areas. And I have to say that they are completely normal, great people. Again, it is often about perspective or the way they are presented. My experience so far is only positive. For example Prince Albert. It is true that he lives in a different world. But at the same time he is a normal person, an athlete who would rather talk to common people than important state dignitaries. We talk about ordinary things. In reality, the ”big“ people are like us.
You witness a large array of human stories during your travels. Yet you do not take portrait shots. Why not?
I try to avoid people (laughter). All people we meet during our journeys are fantastic. Whenever possible, we rent an SUV and head to the wild outdoors. When I take pictures of people or animals, it is coincidental. I have several photos like that – I enjoyed the experience a lot, but I was not looking for it. I am more of an introvert.