First steps of Martina Štolbová in the deep waters of documentary experience

Martina Štolbová, Teacher, Czech Republic

As Martina Štolbová admits herself, photography has become a part of her life only recently. Despite that fact, it has completely absorbed her nowadays and joining a project such as Week of Life was a great new challenge for her. She puts her heart into taking photographs and expresses fully what she feels at the time she has a camera in her hand. As a result, her weeks were appealing right from the start and that is why her heart-felt images have now reached the rank suitable for the Week of Life Masters section, in which she is the first non-professional photographer. Meet a unique woman, who not only regards photography as a type of entertainment, but also as a tool that enables her to find her own meaning of life.

Just as with previous Week of Life Masters, we would like to know how you got acquainted with the project and what made you join its cause?

I found out about the project from one of my ‘soul mates’. I know Eva Staňková from PE (Photo Extract – Editor’s remark). Back then, in the beginning of January, I called her, because I was literally at the bottom of my strength due to problems at work. Already a second time that year, our kindergarten was flooded. This time, it was right before Christmas; tragedy, a catastrophe. The kindergarten was completely uninhabitable. We desperately had to find alternate premises and start working again. On top of all that, it was the end of the year and we were overwhelmed by all the deadlines, the inventory and other administrative nightmares. And as you can imagine, everyone needed something from you and you did not even have an office or a computer with a printer. Simply speaking, it was one awfully complicated period of time. After hearing me out on the phone, Evička said: ‘Well, I am experiencing something similar, but I did join a great project and started taking photographs. It’s really amazing, take a look at it.’ So, I glanced at the WoL website for the first time. And what made me join? First of all, the great idea behind this astonishing project, which is simply time-less. And second of all… it was my own personal challenge to get back on my feet and relate to me as a person; to find meaning to my actions and my life. Photography has rescued me from unpleasant phases of life on several occasions so I bet my money on it once again. None the less, I was never one to venture on taking photographs for the means of a documentary. However, this one was about me and my take on life around me. No better person could document such thing than me. WoL is surely a great lesson for me regarding documentaries. It has allowed me to develop a step further and I am grateful for it, as it grants me a perfect self-reflection of me as an individual.

You are a member of a photography club. When did photography become a part of your life?

(I am actually writing my bachelor’s thesis on this subject at the moment) :o) It’s been about 4 years since I discovered photography. At that time, my family purchased a slightly above average compact camera. At first, I took pictures for the sake of the family album, but then I felt an urge to create some sort of alternative photographic images. I was always the creative type, I just ignored it for most of my life, apart from when I was at work. Through the means of photography, I realized how important my creativity was. Moreover, at that same time I was enrolled in distant studies at the Faculty of Education; the people at the department of arts were simply amazing and allowed me to see my new inner horizon. They inspired me to persist and continue. And as a member of the photography club, I think it is my 3rd year. It’s a matter of belonging whenever an opportunity arises. In other words, we need to be surrounded by people with the same views and same focus, so that we know that we are not the only ones that are crazy and foolish :o)). So, I became a member of the F 99 Ústí nad Labem Photography Club.

Tell us something about your profession, family and hobbies.

Well, I already told you about my profession previously. I am a director at a kindergarten in Ústí nad Labem for a year and a half now. I have gone through a rough phase in my life both professionally and family-wise. It was not an easy task to let go of the ideals a person has when assuming the role of a director. On top of that, it was not easy on my family either, and it still isn’t :o)). So what else is there to say? I love working with children, it fulfills me and I can be considered lucky to have a profession that I enjoy. Even though there are times as a director that I feel as if I was punished for something and that is whenever I deal with the administrative part of my job. :o)) And as for my family, I am very thankful that I have all of them. I know it isn’t easy to keep a functioning family and we try to work on it non-stop. :o)) I have two wonderful kids and as of now, also a forgiving and patient husband. A BIG THANKS TO ALL THREE!

In a way, you deviate from the usual photographers in this section of the project in the sense that you are not a professional photographer. So, the question at hand is: Can you imagine yourself pursuing the path of photography professionally?

If by professionally you mean earning a living with it, then I guess no. I regard photography as a relaxing place where I go when I’m feeling well or totally the opposite, simply whenever I feel like it. I can’t imagine I had to go to that place all the time as a profession. I wouldn’t like that. Photography would lose its magic and charm and definitely wouldn’t be the same anymore. Photography is a self-reflection of me as an individual that helps me cope with important matters, things that bother me and pull my nerves. I take photographs mainly for my own enjoyment. I am glad I discovered the medium of photography as a whole, since I can find all sorts of answers in it to the questions in my head. And once again, I have an amazing job so no thank you, I wouldn’t like for photography to be part of my profession.

How do you think the Week of Life project could be of benefit to you, your surroundings or anyone else in today’s world?

It can certainly help anyone who is trying to find themselves as a person. You know, before trying it out, I had no idea what kind of power the 9 photographs of each day could have, especially for my own self. The feeling you get when you successfully and meaningfully finish documenting your own life is wonderful. Just for that the whole idea of the project is priceless. However, the project has a much wider scale of benefits. It helps us realize that every person has their own view on life and lives it in their own way as best as he can, no matter what part of the globe he’s from. On the other hand, we can easily become aware of the fact that people on the other side of the planet live the same ordinary lives just like you or me. The internet is an enormous medium that makes up for the distances between people. Week of Life provides a shortcut to lives of people with different nationalities, professions, beliefs, of men and women, but also children of one planet. Thank you.

Do you follow photographic documentaries around you or perhaps abroad? If so, what path do you think global reportage and documentary photography will take in the future?

I must admit that I don’t follow photographic documentaries here or abroad as much. I have to say I discovered it along with your project. :o) I like the photographs of Kevin v. ton, I follow them regularly. And regarding the path it will take, well, I don’t dare to predict. In today’s world of digitalization photography is becoming something of a new dimension. It’s becoming a phenomenon of our time. Photography follows our every step and with a few exceptions, each profession would not be able to survive without it. It has grown to such mass-scale that it is available for almost anyone and the possibilities it brings are endless. From the point of view of my profession, it is obvious to everyone that every kindergarten will present its self with photographs documenting the life of children on their websites. Today, the one who doesn’t follow that trend is to be considered an outsider. I wouldn’t imagine such thing possible 10 years ago, it all happens so fast. I believe that such expansion and bloom of photographic documenting will only play to our advantage. Look, every mobile phone has its own camera nowadays and in a few seconds, I can send an image to the other side of the world. These things are simply unbelievable. It may seem that photography is losing its status and is becoming a component of some kind of information process, but all of that will crystallize in the near future. I believe that new technologies can all be used to the best of our advantage.

In which direction do you think the internet, the adherent entertainment and respective services will develop?

I am still fascinated by the possibilities of this medium. It offers an unimaginable space for virtual reality – and not only that. The connection between different parts of the world through our PC monitors is becoming an integral part of our everyday life. If you are not connected to the net, it’s as if you weren’t alive. That’s how I see it. We all know that the sense of ‘being’ consists of different factors, still, the feeling for the need of internet is within us. I think as long as the internet will function only as our servant, everything will be fine. However, I would be most displeased if we succumbed to virtual worlds and let it overwhelm our real ones. Everything is about balance, which is important in many aspects. It would be wise to find the optimal score :o) I am a fan of the internet and I believe it still has a lot of potential we have yet to discover. We are still at the beginning and it certainly isn’t that long ago when the internet itself was ‘born’. Surely, it still has a lot of tricks under its sleeves that will amaze us all. I am really looking forward to that moment.

Weeks of Martina Štolbová

Příspěvek byl publikován v rubrice WoL Masters a jeho autorem je Zdeněk Kamrla. Můžete si jeho odkaz uložit mezi své oblíbené záložky nebo ho sdílet s přáteli.

Napsat komentář

Vaše e-mailová adresa nebude zveřejněna. Vyžadované informace jsou označeny *