Interview with Marcel Koláček – The Winner of The Documentary Category at B&W CHILD 2018

15 mins read

Q: Dear Marcel, once again we have seen your presence on B&W Child Photo Competition and once again you dominated the Documentary Category! Huge Congrats! How did you feel when you hear the happy news?

A: Thank you warmly. Of course, one thinks it would be great to repeat success, that I can do it, but it’s just a wish. I am more and more uncertain about my work because I want to constantly improve, I want to show even better results. One wants to prove it was not just luck. For me personally, it is better not to hope for anything. Show your work and wait. And when I got a message of victory – what can I say – it’s a beautiful feeling.


Q: Your winning photograph is out of this world! Can you please tell us where did you take this photo and what’s the story behind it?

A: Thank you very much. This photo corresponds to my motto “Photography is an immediate reaction, communication.” It was a second. The photograph is captured in the largest African slum and one of the largest in the world- Kibera. I have documented everyday life there for a month. What interests my attention you can see in the photo. There is no deeper story behind this capture. It’s actually a second moment in ordinary extraordinary life.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“Beauty Salon” by Marcel Kolacek | 1st Place in The Documentary Category at B&W CHILD 2018 PHOTO COMPETITION

Q: This time, you were competing against a lot of Chinese photographers. Were you surprised that documentary photographer is so popular and developed among Chinese photographers?

A: That’s a very good question. Last year I noticed the good attendance of Chinese photographers and this year is even higher. It’s not only in the CPC, but we can see them in many other competitions across the spectrum of photography. China is a superpower and proves it even in photography. I have to say the work of Chinese photographers impresses me these days. In the last year, we had a chance to see more and more f them. Even in terms of states, I am glad that such a small country as the Czech Republic can compete with giant countries like China. I have to mention also Russian photographers- They also come out of line.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“Fast and Furious” by Marcel Kolacek | Honorable Mention at B&W CHILD 2018 PHOTO COMPETITION

Q: A few months ago we did an interview with you since you were the Category Winner and one of the runners for The Grand Prize in 2017. Can you tell us what’s new in your life and work since then? Feel free to share any updates with us!

A: It has not changed much in the last months – saving money for a new photojournalism in Ghana in January. I’ll be away for 2-3 months. I don’t want to say more than this, but it’s just a topic I can use in the future for CPC.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“Landscape” by Marcel Kolacek

Q: We know you travel a lot. Are you a light traveller? What equipment do you carry when you travel abroad?

A: Oh yes, I am a very light traveler! For my last travel, I had just two shorts and two t-shirts, one shirt, first aid kit, towel, toothbrush and one indispensable thing- wet tissues. And photo equipment of course. But my photo equipment is light as well- just two bodies and two short lenses. Charger, spare battery. I don’t like the extra battery on the camera, it’s big, heavy, attracting attention. Notebook, external drive and that’s all.  The most important thing is the enthusiasm and the desire to take pictures.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“Boss” by Marcel Kolacek | Honorable Mention at B&W CHILD 2018 PHOTO COMPETITION

Q: Can you list some of your favorite photos from The First Half of The Contest?

A: I am sure I can. Again, Uliana Kharinova struck me. Her melancholic portraits have a great effect on me. ‘Half Empty Half Full‘ is great. I am very pleased that the photo with a humanist touch ‘Stare’ by  Xiaoqing Zhang is among the winners in the portrait category.  Portrait category is again, for me, the strongest category in the competition. I was surprised by the participation and victory of Lee Jeffries. This also shows the quality of the competition. Lee Jeffries is well known for his impressive homeless portraits, I would not expect him at CPC.

Q: What do you think of your opponents in The First Half of The Contest?

A: Documentary categories are getting better and still expanding. I’m glad for it. I don’t study documentary photographers in the competition. I concentrate on my own perception of the photo. I always list in the category, but it’s not extreme. I enjoy more of the other categories – it’s because I don’t have to compete directly with them.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“by Marcel Kolacek | Honorable Mention at B&W CHILD 2018 PHOTO COMPETITION

Q: We are aware that you are inspired by life since you are deep into the documentary photography, but can you tell us more about how exactly do you frame the scenes since some of your work looks almost surreal. Is it a technique? Or mindset? Magic maybe?

A: Thank you. You flatter me too much. As I said the last time. I do not think about it. I see a scene that interests me and capture it. I’m not looking for anything directly. I can’t describe what and how I do it, because it’s different every time. Life creates the best compositions and moments. If you are lucky and you are in the right place, you can catch them – in your own way.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
“Between Fences” by Marcel Kolacek | Honorable Mention at B&W CHILD 2018 PHOTO COMPETITION

Q: Can you tell us how did you develop your style and how long you are into the photography?

A: My style seems to be, I think, inspired by classical masters, I have already mentioned that they are my inspiration. When you look and study at their work, it gives you something. Something that resonates with your personality. I knew around the age of 28 that I want to take the pictures fully and create something in photography. I knew it’s my self-realization. My goal is to take a place in the World Press Photo.

Photo by Marcel Kolacek

Q: Where and how do you learn photography?

A: Well, it’s pretty easy to answer. Books, magazines, internet. If you want to learn something in these days your possibilities are huge. You need just enthusiasm, desire to want. You don’t have to study at school to learn creative activities. Today’s resources are gigantic. It’s up to you how much time you spend on it.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Photo by Marcel Kolacek

Q:  What is your opinion/overview on the current scene of photography around the world?

A: Interesting question. I will be critical. I think, globally, that one thing is clear. Documentary / humanist / reportage photography falls. Dying. Many people are no longer interested. The rise of fashion photography. Fashion photography dominates. The sterile beauty that the photographer declassifies only to the “someone” who squeezes the trigger. This trend also records the rate of narcissism that is highlighted. Another problem is a huge amount of visuals. Too much of photos, too much of pictures. Too many quantities, too low in quality. Magazines no longer retain their photographers who would determine the style and who would be able to distinguish between the quantum of other magazines. It’s a tremendous shame. When you look, the vast majority of magazines are exactly the same. The same photos, the same styles, doesn’t matter what you hold in hand, everything is almost identical. Magazines focusing on their own photo quality are almost non-existent. And if so, there are very very few. Documentary magazines cannot survive, not in this company, not in this system. But, still, we can find quality media focusing on photojournalism, the last islands. I think 90th was generally amazing for the photography if we speak about the modern age. Look on fashion photos, photojournalism- the huge a number of famous and outstanding photographs come from this time. This era of photography is still very inspiring in every genre. Can we say this about this time? I don’t think so. But do not get me wrong. Out there are plenty of amazing photographers who are doing incredibly great work. There is no doubt. We can see this at world competitions, CPC is proof. Personally bother me the overproduction and manipulation. We can ask – what are you? Photographer or digital graphic designer? There is nothing worse than a perfectly sharp photo with an unclear concept.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Photo by Marcel Kolacek

Q: How would you define your own photography in a few words?

A: Simple, fast, authentic. At least I try.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Photo by Marcel Kolacek

Q: Contrary to Documentary Photography, you also photograph women. Do you do this genre of photography as a commercial photographer or as a form of artistic expression and personal work? Can you tell us more about your attraction to those 2 quite different fields of photography?

A: It is personal work, partly commercial, on personal order. Nudes are, as I mentioned in the previous interview, part of me. Helmut Newton was the first to wake me up for a photography. Seriously. Nudes were the genre I started studying first. In the future, I want to publish a book with nudes. It’s kind of a balance between the two genres I’m working on. A completely different discipline. It’s nice to change the way you shoot. Nudes are relaxing for me. I have no desire to excel in this discipline, it frees me from stress and I can pursue this genre purely for pleasure. This is a fundamental difference between these two genres. I’m taking two kinds of nudes. Modern and classic. Depending on the type of woman and mood, I select which one to choose.  Women are inspiring, their beauty is endless. I’m trying to capture it.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Nudes by Marcel Kolacek
Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Modern nudes my Marcel Kolacek

Q: What is your proudest moment as a photographer/artist?

A: I hope it will come. It’s still too early to find such a moment. Hope I will find it in the future.

Interview with Marcel Kolacek
Photo by Marcel Kolacek

Q: Do you have any advice to offer us fellow photographers and artists about photography when it comes to entering quality photo competitions?

A: Show your work. If you never try, you will never know.

Thank you!


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