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Jana Asenbrennerova March 13, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Czech Republic.
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Father Julian and Father Ferdinand. Retired Priests, Czech Republic 2011

Jana Asenbrennerova (b.1981, Czech Republic) studied directing at the Film Academy in Písek and came to the USA in 2003 to continue her education. After graduating from San Francisco State University and completing internships at the San Francisco Chronicle and the Kathmandu Post in Nepal she started freelancing for a variety of publications including Lidé a Země and Reuters. Jana received awards from National Geographic, Czech Press Photo, China Press Photo, PDN, CPOY and most recently World Press Photo (an honorary mention in the Daily Life category for her story about the gay community in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

About the Photographs:

“These two images are from a portrait series about retired priests. They live in a 24 hour care retirement home dedicated entirely to members of the church. The priests continue to lead their spiritual lives, taking turns  attending daily mass and participating in prayers with each other. Despite the fact that the Czech Republic is one of the most atheist countries in the world, there are several homes exclusively for retired priests throughout the country. When I first visited the priests my initial idea was to do a reportage about them. I visited them regularly and after two months I wanted to do an individual portrait of each one of them. I thought of a concept and then told them what I had in mind. At that point I had made so many photos of them and they had gotten used to me. I wanted them all to dress the same in their cassock preferably which they used in the church.”

“The main challenge was their mobility. Just to sit straight and keep looking at the camera was not easy. For example to photograph Father Julian – who is no longer alive- was quite challenging. He was in a wheelchair and his movement was very limited. I dressed him and noticed it was tiring for him to even just change outfits. So by the time he was positioned for the portrait I knew he couldn’t take more then five minutes. So I stopped shooting and trusted I got the shot which needed to be consistent with the others. It was similar with Father Ferdinand. He is nearly one hundred years old. It was a great experience to work and get to know these men. They have a fantastic sense of humor and are great storytellers. I’m always impressed by their memory. Regardless of their age they are curious and actively keep on learning. It wasn’t a surprise to me when one day I visited Father Xaver who is in his ninties and he greeted me with Bonjour as he was learning French.”

Evzen Sobek March 22, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Czech Republic.
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Aquatic Park, Jihlava, Czech Republic, 2004

Evzen Sobek (b. 1967, Czech Republic) discovered photography shortly after finishing his studies in mechanical engineering. His documentary work is usually based on a subjective view and personal impressions of reality, presented in a series combining clearly defined themes from concrete settings (Gypsies in Brno City, Life in Blue) with looser motif and theme collections (Ecce Homo, Home Sweet Home, Hidden Landscapes, Blue Dream). His photographs have been exhibited in Europe, the United States, Israel and Japan where they are also included in public and private collections. His last series – Life in Blue – has been awarded an  honorable mention in the Lens Culture Award in 2010 and was published by Kehrer Publishing, Germany in 2011.

About the Photograph:

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall  Central and Eastern Europe has changed dramatically. It was not only political changes but also economical growth which has had the decisive impact on everyday life and habits of the nations. So it was in the Czech Republic – growing vegetables in their own gardens and spending summer time at cottages have been replaced by flying to seaside resorts and buying goods in huge hypermarkets. Supported by aggressive advertising campaigns Saturdays and Sundays turned into the daylong “trips” to shopping centers and passive entertainment in amusement factories that have become one of the most common weekend activities. Focusing on the wide spectrum of the leisure time activities the Home Sweet Home series (2003 – 2005) brings my personal impression of a nation experiencing its freedom and dreams.”

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