Jan Balaz was born in former Czechoslovakia and raised on the Czech side after the countries split up. He currently live in St. Hellens, near Liverpool, UK.
He is a semi-professional photographer with main focus and interested in portrait and documentary photography. At this current moment he work on a project ”Portraits of Souls” and a documentary about life in Britain.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
With many years of experience , I realised that all the unique moments, amazing people and great things life usually all happen by coincidence and the same goes for photography.
Everyone has days where everything goes wrong and the only thing you wish to do is to spend the whole day in bed.
I had of these days, where you wish to wake up because everything feels like a bad dream, in 2009.
It was a really tough day, I was really grumpy and everything seemed very boring to me. I did go out with a couple of friends and we decided to visit the local ZOO, just to cheer us up.
When I searched for some snacks in my backpack, I found my parents’ low-end compact camera. After a while it became very clear that it was a love at first sight and I had great passion for photography. I photographed everything around me and within the next few days, I bought my first DSLR camera and started to properly educate myself.
I did realise that I love observing the world around me and I was enjoying myself.
Whats inspires your photography?
The inspirations for photography could be anything, starting with music, catchy posters, life events or anything that happens to you.
Me personally, I’ve been mostly influenced by the film industry as I’ve always been a huge movie fan across all genres.
I tend to remember and carry out images and scenes I’ve seen in these movies and always carry them in my head. I always felt something about the “old” in myself. I can not describe it perfectly, it’s purely a matter of feelings.
For this reason, especially I tend to the old classic documentary as H.C. Bresson, Capa R., J. Koudelka, Robert Frank, Joel Meyerowitz and Antonin Kratochvil. I was very entertained such work. Annie Leibovitz and Helmut Newton.
I’ve always been a great admirer of raw black and white photographs – game of shadows and lights which allows you to perfectly capture every detail.
What does it mean to you?
To be able to objectively capture moment of life and its details is fascinating, especially when we forget so quickly.
Photography and photographs is one of the things in my life that persists and stays with time, I suppose I’ve never had such a passion for anything else in my life.
At the same time I know I will stick with photography for the rest of my life and beyond.
How did the project start?
The project Portraits of Souls is still currently my life’s work. I love observing people, their eyes, expressions and characteristics of their faces. When doing Portrait Photography, I always want to express feelings, emotions, thoughts and the genuine, hidden side of humans – therefore the name of my project Portraits of Souls.
How did you approach the subject matter?
Regarding street photography, so I prefer absolute anonymity. I like to enjoy and observe everything around me and I try to absorb the rhythm of local energy When I see someone or something interesting I’m trying to make the best capture, but with all due respect. If someone does not want to take a picture, I accept it. Courtesy and respect should be.
What cameras did you shoot with and why?
Photograph can really with anything and we all know that good technology, good picture alone will not do 🙂
I was a great friend for a long time with a Nikon D90, but now I’m enjoying FF Nikon D600, which I combined Tamron 24-70 mm 2.8 absolutely sufficient. A little bit in my head some nice 50 mm 1.4, but I’m really lazy to change lenses 🙂 little over a year I use Fuji x100 and I love it, the x100 you simply invisible, but I plan x100T.
What are you looking for in street photography?
Uniqueness of people on the street and finding their story is a challenge For me personally. I prefer a challenge and the X100 is perfect for it due to fixed lens’.
Nevertheless the way to perfect images is long and I’m still at the beginning. I’m more confident as a portraitist but street photography is a challenge and I believe I will do great.
Any closing comments?
I am convinced that in every person there is something interesting. Many people are afraid of the photographs, but then when they show photos and they are excited … I also.