Interview: Tomáš Neuwirth
Luca Curci talks with Tomáš Neuwirth, winner of the ARTIST OF THE MONTH – MARCH 2020.
Tomáš Neuwirth was born in Czech Republic in 1972. He is a freelance photographer with many awards from international competitions, specializing in drone photography. A major milestone in his life was the year 1995, when he began to devote himself to paragliding. As a pilot, he was fascinated by taking pictures of the bird’s eye, then still on the 35mm film camera. The following year, he moved to the USA. His stay here after three and half years ended by paragliding incident and with serious injuries of the spine he returned to the Czech Republic. He then spent eight months in a sanatorium, learned not only to walk again, but also met his future wife Gabriela. Capturing of aerial footage continued to attract him. And with the advent of unmanned technologies, new possibilities were opened. Tomáš is involved in drone and classical photography professionally. 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 in the prestigious contest MIFA – Moscow International Fotography Awards (Nature Photographer of the Year). In the same year, The Independent Photographer Magazine included his image among the TOP 10 Most incredible landscapes from across the planet. And ranked him in the selection Talents of the Year 2018/2019.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Tomáš Neuwirth – I regard art as a form of self expression. An opportunity to share my opinion, my perception of the world. It is an integral part of my life. If I don’t understand someone’s art, I don’t condemn them, I respect the way other people view the world.
LC – What are you currently working on?
TN – 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 the 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.
LC – What role does the artist play in society? And contemporary art?
TN – Art cannot exist without society, just as society cannot exist without art. Artists can draw attention to the state of society, their work becomes its image. It should stimulate thinking and evoke emotions and can also bring joy and pleasure – even more so in difficult times like these. Art is perceived as something that surpasses us as individuals. However, contemporary art often does not give this impression.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
TN – I look for inspiration mostly in nature. A person can create incredible things, but can’t compete with nature. The images we see there are perfect in themselves – and if you are lucky, nature will allow you to capture them. However, it is increasingly difficult to find places which have not been significantly interfered with by people – places that retain their original character.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
TN – I create mostly landscape photographs, either using a classic camera or from a drone. For landscapes, the most difficult thing is to capture the moment and the mood the place has at that particular while. Sometimes it is a very short timespan. Nature offers something and if you are not ready, then you are unlucky. It has happened to me many times. That’s why I carry my equipment with me in the car – even if I haven’t planned a shoot. Fortune favours the prepared. 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, and the photo won a lot of awards around the world.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
TN – My style has not changed significantly, but my way of working has. This is due to the development of technology. As a former paragliding pilot, I was fascinated by the “bird’s eye” perspective and I liked taking pictures of these views, then still on the 35 mm film camera. The advent of unmanned systems in recent years has, opened up entirely new possibilities. Drones have literally revolutionised photography. I consider them the biggest discovery in this field since the advent of digital cameras. I would say that they “freed the photo”, gave it wings. Images from an airplane or helicopter don’t have the same impact. Drones get to inaccessible places and at much lower altitudes. Last year I took several shots of cracks in the ice. They are overhead views taken with a drone from about two meters. You could not take such an image with a classic camera in as the ice would break under you.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any.
TN – As a photographer I am interested in the work of my colleagues and I am often fascinated by their photographs. I like contemporary work that reflects current topics.