Amazing Planet was founded in 2011. Do you consider it a Slovak brand in spite of the English name and international success?
When we were thinking of a project name it was clear to us that it has to be international. We use the Slovak equivalent of Amazing Thailand in Slovakia but we knew from the beginning our brand name had to start with an A so it could be easily alphabetically found. An ad for something called an ‘Amazing Island‘ ran at that time and I liked the ‘amazing‘ part very much. ‘Planet‘ came as a straight choice over ‘world‘ because we it has this blue planet connection, which is something positive. There were more alternatives but we went with this one in the end.
Did you prepare a full business plan when you launched your project or did you dive in armed only with your passion for photography while success came merely as a pleasant side effect?
It all happened over time. I didn’t start all this having sales on my mind. Originally it was a test; we had an impressive amateur holiday photo archive that asked for some form. It turned into a presentation which later developed into the idea of an exhibition. We founded our company and everything started moving. So there definitely wasn’t any goal at the beginning defining how quickly we have to move forward, but we moved nevertheless.
You have been awarded with the Master QEP in addition to being a respected expert in your field, even world-known celebrities own your work and you are a role model for thousands of photographers. Does professional humility still belong to your vocabulary? Do you feel a drive to improve or reach a certain goal in spite of your success?
Of course I do. Nobody is born an expert and nobody dies as one. We continue to learn from our own mistakes and keep developing. I seek my inspiration among people that charge me with positive energy. There isn’t any point of arrival in what I do; a point of having reached it all doesn’t exist. Those who claim to have reached this point have already lost.
Are you mentoring anyone? If not, do you plan to share your knowledge with other photographers in the future?
Most certainly yes. I engage with a group of people, mostly young people who follow my work and I’m glad to support them if I can but I don’t offer any workshops or courses. These are too time-consuming and perhaps I don’t possess enough professionally skills to lead one.
I am not convinced. Do you think so?
I mean, there are people specifically educated and trained to do that and they have been doing it for years. I might be able to offer some practical exercises, but less theory… theory would kill me.
Let us open the topic of young photographers one more time. Is it possible for an amateur without professional equipment to become a really good and commercially successful photographer? What is the secret to success – is it only about the right equipment?
Photographic equipment isn’t the key; it is only a matter of financial resources so there have to be other variables at play. Great shots require great talent or an individual style besides a high quality lens. Style emerges with time and knowing the right people plays a certain role, too. So having solid technical equipment doesn’t equal being successful. If that was the case, tons of successful and excellent photographers would walk the earth. There are many among us now, but their number would increase dramatically if equipment was all they needed. However it’s not that simple. One way or another, you need a combination of individual artistic expression and the ability to be recognized. Compared to other countries the latter isn’t as difficult in Slovakia.
There are three upcoming exhibitions this year in addition to those you already absolved. Your photographs are so splendid and unique that it is hard to believe you need more than cutting edge equipment to capture such moments. You mentioned this isn’t quite the case; yet how many of your shots are unusable and how many are presented to the public?
I don’t try to photograph everything. This means I take shots only when I see a motive with a good composition. Secondly, I don’t just take shots of literally everything and then choose from them. I don’t work this way because I don’t see any benefit in it. To put it short, I simply capture amazing moments when I happen to come across them. Admittedly, you are able to take much more shots if your equipment fails while dangling from a helicopter over a spring with magnificent scenery around. So it is true I take more shots from various angles, but I don’t photograph everything. This also means I don’t have such a wide range to choose from.
How many countries have you visit until now thanks to your profession? How many countries have you been to this year?
I have recently registered on a certain webpage to keep an overview. It totals to 104 countries as of now, however this number doesn’t mean anything to me since I visited some of these countries several times. Talks about having been to all countries bear no importance to me. I prefer travelling to countries with outstanding conditions for a photographer.
Are there certain places where you are afraid to work or where you keep coming back with pleasure?
I love coming back to many places among them Alaska, Hawaii, Namibia, New Zealand, Island, Australia and of course the American West or the Arctic; these are all excellent shooting locations. Then again there are hard-core places we planned to visit such as Ethiopia but we cancelled the trip in the end because of armed conflicts, but I would still very much like to go. We will see how it turns out.
Is there a location though that is a clear no-go for you? Perhaps out of fear?
I wouldn’t appreciate being forced to travel to boring places, Balaton for example. Nothing more I can say, people usually go places they like. In my case it means I wouldn’t want to go to the vast majority of known places.
Do you still appreciate the uniqueness and appeal of Slovak nature given you have been around the world and seen breathtaking natural marvels?
National pride dictates to claim how stunning and fantastic Slovakia is and I’m sure everybody would love to hear that from me. Of course it is true up to a certain extent and naturally I feel good here because of my friends, family and relatives. Slovakia will always be my country. At the same time I don’t like to pretend that it is unparalled to anything I have seen before, especially knowing how poorly protected Slovak nature is. There are beautiful places here, but I can’t say they are the most beautiful in all Europe. In spite of many wonderful spots there I am not such a big fan of Europe because everything looks the same way. That is probably why I tend to think the further, the more exotic and the less available, the better. For me this is a real escape from reality. But I am also gradually collecting the beauties of Slovakia.
Prince of Monaco Albert II said your work plays an effective role in alerting men and women of goodwill to our planet’s situation. Have you witnessed any significant human impact on the environment on your travels? Your photographs depict planet Earth as a clean and untouched place.
The answer is definitely yes and human impact is huge. There are increasingly more tourists and travelers who immediately make many previously unknown and undiscovered places suddenly available thanks to the internet and globalization as such; far-away or exotic destinations aren’t an exception. Its evolution but at the same time it has an effect on the environment. I search for places that are special because of their scenery, landscape and structure and I continue to succeed in spite of everything. But I also know a photographer who stopped going to certain spots exactly because they got overcrowded.
We would like to thank you for taking the time and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.