Tomáš Neuwirth was born in the Czech Republic in 1972. He is a freelance photographer with many awards from international competitions, specializing in drone photography. By selecting extraordinary places and post-production processing, he is taking drone photography to the next levet. From capturing landscapes to a Fine Art expression. In 2019 he succesed to win with the photo “Cemetery” in the prestigious contest MIFA – Moscow International Fotography Awards (Nature Photographer of the Year). In the same year, The Independent Photographer Magazine included his “A Cold Road” image among the TOP 10 Most incredible landscapes from across the planet. And ranked him in the selection Talents of the Year 2018/2019.
Could you start with a brief thematic introduction to your work?
Tomáš: I concentrate mainly on landscape photography. I used to take shots using a classic camera, but in recent years I have been using a drone more and more often. I enjoy looking for unusual places, where a bird’s eye view can add a new dimension. By selecting these places and using post-production processing, I’m trying to shift my photographs into the field of fine art.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
Tomáš: I generally regard art as a form of self-expression. An opportunity to share own opinion, own perception of the world, with others. Photography has become my means of expression. If you send ten photographers to the same place, each will take a different picture there. Each one will see the place with their own eyes. That’s what urges me to take pictures and what drives me on in my work – the desire to capture a place or object in my own specific way and to offer the world my own personal perspective on it.
You are specialized in drone photography, what equipment do you use?
Tomáš: I have been using drones for quite a long time, I bought the first one nine years ago in 2011. It was a kit from the Xaircraft company. However, the desired shots were made by drones from DJI in the following years. Previously I used the Phantom 4 model, now I use the Mavic 2 Pro. It is an excellent machine, equipped with a Hasselblad camera. This Swedish manufacturer of medium format cameras has developed a special camera with 1-inch senzor for the drone. And perhaps it is a touch symbolic that a Hasselblad camera was used by the American astronauts on the moon fifty years ago.
What are you looking to explore in your photographic work?
Tomáš: As mentioned in the previous question, I focus mainly on drone photography which, by its very nature, is predestined for landscape photography, long-distance views, great depth of field etc. From the perspective of the photographer, there are fewer possibilities for artistic expression. Therefore it depends very much on the choice of location and how to capture it. I, therefore, try to find unusual locations – often places that do not seem that interesting on the first impression. However, a bird’s eye view gives them a whole new dimension.
How do you develop your projects from idea to practice?
Tomáš: With landscape photography, it’s about being in the right place at the right time (with the right equipment) to capture the moment and the mood the place has at that particular moment. Sometimes it is a very short timespan. Nature offers something and if you are not ready, then you are out of luck. It has happened to me many times. Some photographs are created by chance, some require long preparation. Sometimes, I wander the landscape with my eyes wide open looking for interesting locations to take pictures – and sometimes I look the places up in advance, perhaps on the Internet. Then I plan the shot, in particular, according to the weather, find out how the sun rises and sets there, which places remain illuminated etc. Sometimes it is necessary to wait for snow, because it is a crucial element for the location, without which the photo would be incomplete.
The most demanding picture for me was a combined photo of the road before mountain pass of Vidly in Jeseniky Mountains called ”Road Between Seasons”. It took a relatively long time to create. The winter part of the photo was taken on the first trip, even though at -10° C with a drone, it was not easy. The summer shot didn’t work out until the fourth visit to the location. Either it was too windy, or the sky was too bright and the shadows of the trees were undesirable etc. Post-production on the computer was also quite complicated. But it was worth it, and the photo won a lot of awards around the world.
What makes photography unique as a medium, in your opinion?
Tomáš: In addition to photography, I also make videos. For a long time, I considered that video was the primary medium for recording images and sound and therefore telling stories. Gradually, however, I began to favour photography. Its strength is in capturing a given moment – a unique, unrepeatable moment. Everything is different in a second. Even a photograph can tell a story and often better than video. In addition, an image leaves the viewer room for their imagination and their own interpretation of the story, as is the case with books.
What are you looking to represent in your photographs?
Tomáš: I mainly take pictures of nature and places around my home, which is in the Jeseniky Mountains. In my photos, I try to capture known and unknown places from a slightly different point of view – a challenge for which drone photography is ideal. People who live here have the opportunity to experience these places from a different perspective and I am grateful for their reactions. And I use my photos to try to bring this unusual landscape and other interesting places in my country closer to those who do not live here.
What do you feel is your particular mission, or responsibility as a photographer?
Tomáš: In answer to this question, I recall the words of Sultan Alqasimi at the closing ceremony of the Xposure festival in Dubai. Let me quote them:
“These photographers are our window into our world. They show us that the 7.7 billion people we share planet earth with are all connected, in the simplest and the most profound ways. Photography isn’t just a profession or a form of art, photography as we have seen through the works of our friends displayed here at the festival is a way of life, it’s life itself. Images are like a full-length mirror showing us who we are collectively as a race. Photography is beauty, it is a way to know certain truths that are universally applicable truths which binds us together.”
I fully identify with these words. I think that not only photography but art, in general, should stimulate thought and evoke emotions. Artists can also draw attention to the state of society, their work becomes its image. I see my task as an intermediary between art and society. I try to pass on my perception of the world to others.
There’s a lot of bad news in the world – what gives you hope?
Tomáš: The current time is not easy for anyone. The Coronavirus pandemic is currently being given a lot of media coverage but it is just one of the many bad things that trouble this world. It is important not to fall into skepticism but to maintain optimism. Create things to please ourselves and others. It is said that true art never arises from happiness. It is these crisis situations that can squeeze the best out of a person. We know from history that a great deal of beautiful art was created in times of plague epidemics. The hope of a better future and my faith in the human creative spirit gives me hope.
Are you currently working on a new project?
Tomáš: At the end of last year, I started work on a new project called ”A dozen outdoor sports in the Jeseniky Mountains”. Through this work, I want to present various aspects of the local region in connection with outdoor sports. It is intended to be in the form of a calendar – every month a different sport at a different time of year (e.g. snowboarding, climbing, MTB, etc.) In creating this project, I approached a talented sportswoman who is actively involved in these outdoor sports. The shooting of the project should result in not only the publication but also a video documentary.
Thank you for your time and all the best in future projects and life!
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