Every month we join a top pro for a one-day masterclass. This issue, Lauren Scott travels to the Czech Republic with nature pro Janek Sedlar to capture the beauty of forests
All landscape photographers know that the best time to shoot is early morning, when the light is golden, soft and low in the sky. But that doesn’t make the rise out of bed any less painful. The sun is nowhere near peeking its head out as I climb into Janek’s car at 4am. He reassures me that this will be the best time for shooting – once we’ve driven several hours to reach our destination for sunrise, that is...
Our shoot is going to take place in the White Carpathians, a mountain range on the border of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This is an area that Janek has explored since he was a child, so he knows it incredibly well. He’s been photographing the region seriously for at least the last five years; his images prove how useful it can be, as a nature or landscape photographer, to get to know what’s on your own doorstep.
It’s still dark when we park up, and we hike to our shooting spot on the top of a ridge with head torches on. As we walk, Janek tells me about his relationship with photography: “It was at a difficult part of my life that I started using my camera when out in nature. Image-making enabled me to be more present, to connect with what was around me, and also to escape. I often find that my clients turn to photography as a way of dealing with something big in their lives.”
Janek captures the forests largely for his own pleasure, but as a trained psychotherapist, he’s started using photography to help his clients, too. “We head out for long hikes in nature and talk,” he says. “When they have a problem with something, they can use the Fujifilm Instax I take along – it’s easy to use – and look for elements in nature that help them to work things out.”
As we continue to walk, sunlight starts to peek through the trees (and my sleepy eyes), and I start to believe Janek’s promise that the early rise will be rewarded with a good display of warm light...