Prague, the ‘city of a hundred spires’ and ‘the heart of Europe’, is the capital of the Czech Republic. The nation is nestled among its neighbors Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. The country has a diverse landscape ranging from rolling farmland to mountains and lakes of extreme drama. The weather is continental, with stable, pleasant summers featuring bright, sunny days and cool, sunlit evenings.
The Czech people are open, friendly and enjoy hosting foreign visitors. The country is economically and politically stable and does not suffer from the ethnic tensions associated with other parts of Eastern Europe. The secondary languages are English and German. The Czech economy, while rapidly recovering from the Communist past, offers Western Europeans and Americans many advantages for their respective currencies.
The Czech Republic is a stimulating environment of cultural and economic contrasts. The abysmal legacy of communism stands side by side with the finest of the Baroque period. The remains of economic stagnation coexist with the boldest of capitalist projects. Communists and capitalists, grandmothers and skateboarders, all interact on the streets and in the pubs and cafes of Prague and in many other cities and villages. This makes for a social, visual and emotional stew that every artist should taste.
A large and vibrant expatriate community in Prague adds texture and nuance to the already multi-faceted populace of the city. The city center boasts a wide variety of cultural activities including dozens of theaters, contemporary and classical music, numerous galleries, poetry readings, and a large and active photographic community. This place is a photographer’s paradise.
Czech Photo Culture
Photography and Prague are inseparable, since its inception photography has played a major role in the cultural life of the city and the nation. The works of Josef Sudek, Frantisek Drtikol, Karel Teige, Alexander Hackenschmied, Jaromir Funke, Dagmar Hochova, Emila Medkova and Jan Saudek are internationally renowned.
A new generation of men and women carry the traditions forward. Czech photographic artists engage all the major genres of the art form – portraiture, landscape, urban /“street”, staged/directorial impulses, collage, installations and more.
Exploring all of this is part of the workshop experience.
This workshop is intended for students who wish to jumpstart their vision. You’ve accomplished something and you’re asking yourself “What’s next?” or you feel like you haven’t accomplished much and yet you feel the need to say something through photography. Being in Prague and working with us will help you no matter where you find yourself presently.
Our work together will primarily involve engaging Czech culture and the city of Prague photographically. We’ll visit galleries, go to photographic archives in museums and artists’ studios, and soak up the city’s vibrancy – the opportunity to visit theaters, explore architecture, and gain a deeper understanding of the Czech people and their world will all contribute to enriching your photographic experience.
Students should have basic camera and computer skills – this is not a beginners class – however, we will address many aspects of vision, formulating and addressing a theme for your work, and how to examine and improve your working habits.
We’ll have daily critiques of student work supplemented by lectures on photographers and photo history. During the course of the workshop students will hone their work based on personal background, previous experience and the thinking provoked by Prague and its environs. Each student will be challenged to engage his/her interests based on personal aesthetics, photographic background and current skill level. You WILL be pushed to what is next for you, in a compassionate and concerned way.
All students are expected to leave Prague with a body of work that expresses their intimate and personal responses to the city.
The instructors of the workshop have vetted the following housing options:
- Masarykova kolej (student housing – clean and secure, cheap, good location) Thakurova ulice 1, Prague 6 – Dejvice Czech Republic http://www.hostelprague.cz/prague-cheap-hotel.html
- Pension Dientzenhofer (2 star) Nosticova 2, Prague 1 Czech Republic www.dientzenhofer.cz
- Cloister Inn (3 star) Konviktska 14, Prague 1 Czech Republic www.cloister-inn.com
- President Hotel Prague (5 star-Deluxe) Námesti Curieových 100, Prague 1 Czech Republic http://www.hotelpresident.cz
Workshop meetings will be held in the facilities of FAMU, the renowned Film and Foto Academy located by the river in central Prague.
FAMU Smetanovo nabrezi 1 (corner of Narodni ulice) Praha 1 Czech Republic
The instructors have had good experiences purchasing travel to/from and housing in the Czech Republic with the following agency:
Students should plan on arriving on the Friday/Saturday prior to the workshop to relax and breath the air of Prague (Saturday morning at the latest). We’ll start the workshop on Saturday at 2pm with a safety tips and orientation tour of Prague, followed by a group meal and our usual ‘get to know each other’ start.
Plan on departing mid-morning on the final Sunday. We’ll do final critiques and wrap-up on Saturday. Those wishing to extend their stay may do so, and we’ll assist you with any problems. Need to be at work Monday? - depart Saturday night.
We will work primarily with 35mm DSLR digital technology; HOWEVER, we can connect you to 1st rate color or B&W labs in Prague if you wish to go the traditional film route. We are open to ALL formats from plastic carnival cameras to the largest format view cameras – remember it’s YOU doing the lugging!
Digital students should have a way to present their work – external hard drives, thumb drives, DVDs/CDs etc. Bring your laptop.
We will have a LCD projector and computer for projecting your work.
Packing Cameras, Clothing, and Stuff
Bring the ABSOLUTELY most basic needs to Prague! – especially if you’re headed elsewhere after (before?) the workshop. You DO NOT want to be dragging tons of luggage around Europe! One camera system (2 bodies?) w/ 1 or 2 lenses is sufficient, period. Tripod? Your choice. Bring a laptop you know how to use with proficiency.
Pack just enough clothes to hold you; Prague is very informal during the summer. A light jacket and sweater for cool evenings, long pants or light dress/skirt for concerts/opera/theater. Comfortable shoes are a must! – no sandals or flip-flops, please. Prague has excellent public transportation, however, you need to walk to make pictures. Always wear socks.
Bring a portfolio of work, which represents YOU, the pictures you believe in! Don’t try to impress us with slick or commercially viable work of published, individual images. We want to see a body of work that represents your thinking in photography. The work can be original prints or digital.
The DK guides to Prague and Czech and Slovak Republics are solid, basic tools for getting the gist of the landscape; let us do the rest – that’s why we’re here.
Saturday night and Friday night dinner are on us! The rest you handle. We’ll supply maps and lists of good, reasonably priced food spots.
Prague is filled with cozy cafes, pubs, restaurants and alternative food venues. During the summer open air markets abound with fresh fruit and vegetables, bakeries and cheese stalls are on many corners. Feeding yourself will not be a problem. We’ll also convene for shared meals – everyone chips in – during the week.
Every student will receive a Prague map and a public transit pass good for the duration of the workshop, which can be used on trams, buses and the subway.
- Currency Exchange – the best and most efficient way to acquire Czech crowns is to use your credit/debit card at an ATM
- Medical Assistance – the Hospital for Foreigners offers care to non-Czechs for reasonable rates, students should carry emergency evacuation coverage
- Insurance – all students should consider coverage for theft, damage, flight cancellation, etc.
- Emergency Contact – we will be checking our e-mails continuously prior to and throughout the workshop, we will also provide you with our Czech cell phone numbers prior to your arrival
- Passports and Visas – US citizens may enter the Czech Republic and stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Every student, regardless of nationality, is personally responsible to ascertain that they have all visas needed and that their passport has sufficient time before expiration.
The following books may be helpful in terms of grounding you in Czech culture and to help you understand the history of the place:
- Kundera, Milan – The Joke
- Hrabal, Bohumil – I Served the King of England
- Klima, Ivan – Judge on Trial
- Wilson, Paul (editor) – Prague: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
- Garton Ash, Timothy – The Magic Lantern
At the time of registration, Maine Media Workshops will collect an initial deposit of $400, plus a $55 registration fee. All other payments will be billed & collected directly by the instructors.