Martin Stranka has received the prestigious International Photography Award under the Lucie Foundation at the end of last year as the first Czech photographer in all of the 19 years of the competition. He won the prize with this inspiring series “Beautiful Accidents”. The most important moments in life are often just the ones that never happened. The Beautiful Accidents series elaborates on this narrative and maps the narrow line between aesthetic beauty and the fateful event. These deliberately visually unfinished stories seek the boundary between visual appeal and a dramatic scene that can change human life in an instant. The attempt is to find out to what extent can be aestheticized the accident that the viewer witnesses and thus becomes a part of it.
Beautiful Accidents series: Never been happier by Martin Stranka
Martin Stranka, a native of the Czech Republic who lives in Prague, is a self-taught professional photographer, born on April 13 1984. Martin was a bored student plodding through courses in business school when the unexpected lost of a close friend led him to pursue photography as a form of therapy. That hobby turned into a passion and, eventually, a profession. His distinctive vision of photography is etched as a unique space located in a balance and serenity, while his sophisticated and rewarding images exist in that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening. Martin creates images that appear to be stills from a film — one that walks the line between fantasy and reality
Beautiful Accidents series: Life is a Game by Martin Stranka
Beautiful Accidents series: Take me anywhere by Martin Stranka
Beautiful Accidents series: There is No Goodbye by Martin Stranka
If someone had told me 15 years ago that we would fly to New York to accept the 1st prize for photography, I would not have believed them. The unimaginable has become a reality. The 19th annual International Photography Awards and Lucie Awards gala ceremony took place in Manhattan under the auspices of the Lucie Foundation — the imaginary Oscars of photography. The IPA and Lucie awards are held in Carnegie Hall in NYC where we flew to and documented the whole journey.
In this 19th year of competition, over 14,000 photographs from 120 countries were assessed by 80 judges from around the world, including gallerists, editors-in-chief, art historians, curators, and other renowned professionals in the field of art. And we bring this IPA trophy to the Czech Republic for the first time ever. It was incredibly humbling to receive the award from those who shape and direct the entire photography industry. To be among such world names in photography was truly an honor and a realization that we are doing something right, yet, we still have everything ahead of us. I am extremely grateful to everyone on this wonderful journey with us.
International Photography AwardsTM is a sister-effort of the Lucie Foundation, a charitable foundation whose mission is to honor master photographers, discover and cultivate emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography worldwide. The annual programming of the Lucie Foundation is funded largely through the International Photography Awards, including the signature event, the Lucie Awards held in New York at Carnegie Hall.
It is breathtaking how many world icons of photography have been recognized and honored by this organization. I randomly remember portrait photography icon Annie Leibovitz, world-renowned Czech documentary photographer and Magnum Photos agency member Josef Koudelka, Canadian director and photographer Joey Lawrence (aka Joey L.), American fashion and celebrity photographer Roxanne Lowit, German publisher and contemporary art collector Benedikt Taschen or Dutch portrait photographer Erwin Olaf. I received the award for the series Beautiful Accidents.
The Beautiful Accidents series elaborates on this narrative and maps the narrow line between aesthetic beauty and the fateful event. These deliberately visually unfinished stories seek the boundary between visual appeal and a dramatic scene that can change human life in an instant. The attempt is to find out to what extent can be aestheticized the accident that the viewer witnesses and thus becomes a part of it.
Beautiful Accidents series: Don’t ruin my Fantasy by Martin Stranka
Below is a photo of me together with Susan and Hossein. Hossein Farmani is a creative director, gallerist, exhibition curator, philanthropist, and founder and president of the Lucie Awards and International Photography Awards in New York City. Susan Baraz is Co-Chair for the Lucie Awards and is the Head of Judges for the International Photography Awards. She has been a panelist, portfolio reviewer, moderator, and curator of fine art photography for the Museum of Tolerance Washington DC, Los Angeles Holocaust Museum, and various fine art galleries. And despite their inspiring achievements and successes, they are such down-to-earth, kind and warm people to talk to.
A lot is said and told about New York. Now I can say with a clear conscience of my own experience that New York simply has to be experienced firsthand. This beehive hums and beats with an energy that cannot be conveyed and described in words. It is a city full of inspiration and diversity in the best sense of the word. Above all, I have not experienced such open-mindedness of people anywhere else. We talked to so many strangers and shared so many personal stories. However, one thing was always common and that was a mutual interest in learning more about the other. And so, I know that this was the first but certainly not the last trip to New York. We got our work to Carnegie Hall, leaving thus a big mark of Czech photography behind us. I feel that I have to go back there soon be it for a shorter or longer time, but only time will tell.
Martin Stranka (right) received the prestigious International Photography Award under the Lucie Foundation in New York City at the end of last year
Martin's dreamy, transportive photography has been commissioned by cultural institutions such as the National Theatre in Prague and the Czech National Ballet. Dozens of his images have also been used by New York publishers for the covers of mysteries and thrillers — genres he believes his work is perfectly suited to. He has created book covers for the biggest New York publishers, such as Harper Collins Publishers, Sterling Publishing and Penguin. In addition, he has collaborated with other book publishers, music publishers and artists around the world. Work of Martin Stranka was featured in interviews for Adobe, Disney, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and many more.
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