What does winter Prague actually look like under the snow? We probably won’t see it over Christmas, but it can be reminded by the shots of photographer Richard Horák. For his films in Prague, this author won the prestigious QEP (Quality European Photographer) award, which can be used by professional photographers from all over the world. He also has some tips on where to go for a quiet Christmas walk without crowds in the metropolis.
Richard, you are a native of Prague, and also a photographer who knows many picturesque corners of the capital. Do you have any advice on where to go for a Christmas walk without crowds of tourists?
I would recommend a view at the Strahov Monastery, for example, there is an absolutely famous view of Prague, and I really like it there. Or the nearby Hradčanské náměstí, from where Prague is also beautiful to see. And I would also go through Nerudovka.
But there will probably be a lot of tourists…
Just as important as where to go is to know when to go there. If you want to go see Prague and see her beautiful, it is ideal in the morning. It’s not so bad now, just be there at seven in the morning. From the Strahov Monastery you will see Prague waking up. If you are lucky with the weather, the sunrise is visible on the horizon. In the morning there is divine peace, unlike, for example, Charles Bridge, where it is very difficult to find people without a moment. You will meet people there at night or very early in the morning.
The Strahov Monastery is famous and the view from it is really beautiful. But what if you should advise some lesser known and yet nice place?
I would recommend Na Kocourkách Street in Prague 6. This is an old working-class part of Prague, which has survived to this day. It is a picturesque narrow street, not very long and ends in a small square. There are old houses and slightly resembles the Golden Lane.
Or I would advise the Jewish cemetery at the Žižkov tower, which is also beautiful, although it is not very well known.
This autumn you received the Quality European Photographer award for your pictures of Prague. Can you zoom in a little?
You must be a member of the Association of Professional Photographers to take advantage of it. Then you can apply for the so-called qualification of European photographers, which is twice a year. The jury always takes place in one of the European cities. There are three levels: the first is the European Photographer (EP), the second is the Quality European Photographer (QEP), and the third is the Master Quality European Photographer (the highest).
What is evaluated there?
If you want to receive the QEP award, you need to supply twelve photos, which you must form a complete file. I chose the pictures of Prague and tried to line up to show the city from sunrise to sunset. I consulted the selection with several well-known Czech photographers, such as Stanislav Pokorný, Jan Pohribný or Marián Beneš. Photos must be submitted to the commission printed on a hard surface. This autumn, the commission met with us in Prague. 42 photographers from all over the world applied, and QEP eventually received eighteen of them, including me.
It must have been a great experience.
It was. There are five jurors, they are very well known world photographers and the fact that I appreciated my pictures was a great success for me, he was very happy. The jurors will look at the photos in great detail and then vote. They have a hat in which they throw cards – either yes or no. The result must not be 3: 2, but at least 4: 1. When the ratio of votes is 3: 2, there is another round in which the jurors argue and try to convince others so that the result is clear. Photos must have a so-called wow effect, they must surprise, enchant, captivate, simply impress at first sight. They have no chance without it. The jury wants the pictures to have “something extra”.
The pictures of winter Prague that you chose for this article are from that award-winning series?
No, the series I chose for Currently is different, I have another one in it for pictures that capture the winter atmosphere of the city.