Interview with Jiri Horak
Top tips on what to look for when choosing a wedding photographer
There are just so many things to think about when planning your wedding and finding a fantastic photographer can be hard! Your photographer is the person who will capture your once-in-a-lifetime memories and picking the right one is critical. Of course, you can view all the beautiful images on the internet and create a shortlist of people to chat to. But… What should you really be thinking about before you hand over a deposit?
Our main purpose at Costa’s Wedding Planning is to make arranging your special day as simple as possible. In order to do this, we work extremely closely with our trusted suppliers. This week, we had a chat with professional photographer Jiri Horak, a Czech photographer based in Fuerteventura. Not only is Jiri a skilled photographer who has been honoured with several internationally acclaimed awards, he also prides himself on his professionalism. Above all, he is a warm and friendly guy with a true passion for photography. We asked him to tell us a little about himself and give us a few words of advice for our wonderful wedding couples!
Hi Jiri, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the Czech Republic, although I spent part of my childhood in Germany. I arrived in Fuerteventura 13 years ago, shortly after I met my wife and together we have formed a family with our three children, 2 boys and a girl.
Tell us a little bit about your early career and how you decided to turn your hobby into a full time job?
My first experience with photography began in 2012 when I decided to take it up as a hobby. I began by shooting landscape photography and exhibited some of my amature work and, because of this, I was approached to shoot the images for an advertising campaign for a zoo. I will always remember the thrill of working with animals as models! It was a dream come true to see my photos on advertising billboards which were five to ten meters in size, all across Fuerteventura.
My career in photography grew from there and then, five years ago, I had progressed enough to be put in charge of the photo studio at the Hotel Sotavento Beach Club. Here I specialized in photo sessions, and was also responsible for taking the photos which advertised the hotel itself. In my free time I dedicated myself increasingly to photographing weddings and communions until I decided in 2019 to branch out on my own so that I could focus more on wedding photography. I am completely self-taught and while this is a difficult route to take, I am ambitious and pretty persistent. When something fascinates me, I cannot stop until I achieve the best possible result.
Who were your early influences?
My brother has really supported my career and, early on, advised me to become a member of a photography portal. Here, amateur photographers can share images for constructive criticism with each other. I learned a huge amount about technique, lighting and editing from this group. During this time I had the privilege to work as a photographer on the set of several music videos for artists such as the Dutch singer Loona, known for the song “ We’re Going to the beach” and the Austrian DJ duo, Darius & Finlay. It was a unique experience to work in a professional team using such hi-tech audio-visual equipment. I learned a huge amount and gained a lot of experience.
Last year you won more than 30 awards. Which of the prizes you’ve won are you most proud of?
I really admire the work of “Two Mann Studios” and in 2019, it was a huge privilege to win International Wedding Photographer of the Year, where one of the judges was Erika Mann of “Two Mann Studios”. In the same year, I finished in second place in the category of ‘Wedding photographs in black-and-white’. This was a huge surprise, a great honour and I gained a lot of motivation from being awarded this prize. Also in 2019, I was awarded first prize in the category ‘Social Reporting’ at The Yellow Awards. This competition was very different than anything I had participated in before.
The contest involved a live photo shoot and the winner was announced at a Gala dinner on the same evening. The opportunity to travel to Madrid and participate in the event, held at Circulo de Bellas Artes, was an unforgettable experience, very emotional and a prize all by itself.
And finally in 2020, The Fearless Award, which is the most prestigious award internationally among wedding photographers. Considered as Oscar of the wedding photography.
How would you describe your style of photography?
Natural, emotive and simple, peppered with my own creativity. I like that my photography is able to capture both the emotions in the moment and the space around it.
What is it that you like about photographing weddings?
I am a very emotional person, to me, the most beautiful thing in the world is to capture the emotions displayed on such an important occasion. I assure you that it is incredible to be able to share such an intimate experience with the wedding couple and capture the memories which will last a lifetime in a picture.
You travel a lot when photographing weddings. What would you say is your favourite destination and why?
Every year I have the privilege to travel more and more, capturing weddings outside of the island of Fuerteventura. I have recently travelled to Vienna, Hamburg, Aldeanueva del Camino and the other Canary Islands. Each of these places is an adventure with its own culture, so it is difficult to say which is my favourite. This year I have been booked to photograph a wedding in the oldest horse stud in Europe. My clients chose this World Heritage site for their wedding and I’m very excited by the challenge this location will offer. I can’t wait to experience the perfection of light and emotion in this extraordinary place.
What drives you to photograph weddings, to be creative and continue to feel passion for your profession?
As a photographer I just adore hearing the personal stories of my clients, especially the tales of where they’ve overcome obstacles in order to be together. They fill me with emotion and fire my creativity. Getting to know my clients is very important to help me capture the touching moments full of happiness and love on their wedding day.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Contact me!!! But seriously, I think that it is important to identify with the style of your chosen photographer and get to know them well in the lead up to the wedding day. Allowing your photographer to become involved in the planning journey will help them get to know you and understand what you’re looking for in the wedding photos. A wedding is one of the most important days in the life of a couple and it can take months to feel comfortable and at ease with your photographer. This is why it is important to book your photographer at least a year before the wedding day. If you can, it’s a good idea to have a pre-wedding photo shoot so you can get comfortable being in front of the camera.
What tips could you share with couples to help their day run as smoothly as possible?
Each wedding is unique. During each wedding, the small and funny accidents that inevitably occur give a different touch to the wedding which makes it personal to you. So be yourself, embrace the unexpected and enjoy it, no matter what happens!
Finally, besides photography, what are your other passions or hobbies?
I have found myself becoming more interested in wedding videography lately and have had the opportunity to work as a second videographer on several weddings which have been filmed by my good friend and talented videographer, Osain Álvarez. I really enjoyed myself! Videography gives an entirely different dimension to capturing memories which will never be repeated. It was a lot of fun and a great honour. Maybe I will branch out into wedding videography soon… we will see!
Many thanks to Jiri for making time in his busy schedule to do this interview! We hope you enjoy this interview with Jiri as much as we enjoyed interviewing him. Would you prefer a personal introduction to Jiri Horak? Contact us, we would be happy to put you in touch.
Translation by Lisa Lloyd
Note: “Círculo de Bellas Artes” is one of the most important private cultural centers in Europe and is characterized by its open attitude towards outstanding innovative artistic trends. It is a multidisciplinary center with activities ranging from visual art to literature, from science and philosophy to film and the performing arts.
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