Martin Hroch / Member Interview

Hi, my name is Martin Hroch and I'm a photographer living in the magnificent and beautiful country of Ireland. I specialize in panorama photography which for me is the perfect format to create a story, a complete vision of what is happening in front of my camera.

Photography is my passion and what I try to achieve with my photos is to bring the subject to life, whether it is a landscape scene or a cityscape. Panoramas gives me the freedom of creation, the possibility to capture the moment that usually only remains in our memory, the moment that cannot be taken by just one shot.

What I like about panoramas is the mystery that can only be revealed after the images are stitched together, it's somewhat similar to how film photographers never knew what they got until they actually developed the film. Like one wise man said "panoramas are like a box of chocolates, you may never know for sure what you gonna get." :)


Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I think the most defined point when I have actually started thinking about photography as a possible future career was when I moved to Ireland and visited Killarney National Park and was blown away by the beauty of this place, beauty of nature that I have never seen before.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

I still have that photo in my memory. Back then when I was about 12 - 13 when I took my dad’s old film camera (don’t remember the brand but you look to the viewfinder from the top) and climbed up the roof of our house stood on the chimney and took photo of our neighborhood from this unusual perspective. It was a great photo. Only wish I hadn't wasted the rest of the film on our doggies and bunnies. :)

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

Like with everything else at the beginning you just have a dream and nothing else. The biggest challenge was accepting that it’s going to take a long time and nothing comes easily. And to overcome any challenge is to have a mental strength to keep going, keep learning, keep improving and most importantly never give up.

I remember when I was talking to my parents about becoming a photographer and they were like “there are so many other good photographers already out there” and I just said “yea but there’s only one me”, so thinking big and believing in myself has got me where I am right now and just knowing what I'm capable of with my photography makes me excited for the future.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

Nature, landscapes.. For my last trip I went to Australia and it's like a land designed for photographers, such an amazing and versatile country. Ireland is beautiful, but Australia is another level.

And I have to mention Singapore, I’m not into shooting cityscapes, but that city is just mind blowing and for me one of the best in the world. The diversity of different cultures together with the latest technological marvels built in the modern and futuristic part of the city works amazingly well and there are countless possibilities for creative photography. Wish I could live there for a while.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

Writing this interview. How amazing is it that in just one year I was able to produce photos that caught people’s attention and some actually want to hear what I say? That’s crazy but made me so happy and grateful.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

I think 2010 was a difficult year as I couldn’t find the passion in me anymore and was unhappy with my photos. I have felt there was something missing in them when I got back home from a trip. I wanted to see the sceneries that were still fresh in my memory and my photos didn’t reflect that. That’s when I started thinking about panoramas and how some of my favorite places would look amazing if I capture the whole scene. This was something I needed, an idea that sparked my interests in photography again. So I would say learning new things and developing myself is the key that I am still a photographer today.

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

I like being outside, shooting photos driving and hiking to places, enjoying the adventure.. Then I have to come home with thousands of images that need to be processed and for me accepting my “fate” to specialize mostly in panoramas now and being a perfectionist the processing is sometimes difficult and challenging.

It’s not I don’t like creating panoramas where the scene I have witnessed is in front of me in my computer in its full glory but definitely like the capturing part more..

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

I try to maximize my time when I’m out and taking photos. When I’m at a location I try to get as much photos from different angles and spots as possible. Also I’m not that busy as I’m single and have no family, so I’m not sure if I can give any advices. :)

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

I don’t think about composition that much, it comes naturally, the main thing for me is to fill the frame with something interesting and relevant to the whole picture.

There are no rules in composition it’s about what you feel is right for the photo and it’s your artistic view that matters. We can see many photos disregarding the (established) rules and it’s called art.

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Well, if I had to wait for the gear I want I wouldn’t have taken any photos. So the advice is take what you have, go out and shoot whatever interests you, but maximize your gear and your skills to the fullest.

I have seen amazing photos taken by cheap cameras or even mobile phones and I’ve also seen horrendous photos taken by top of the line full frame cameras and expensive gear, It’s always the person behind the camera creating the photos and if you have any talent it will show no matter what gear you have.

Well, we hear that all the time, but sometimes the right equipment is simply necessary and if you can’t afford it, there is no other way than to wait and save for it. And it’s not just the camera gear you need, for example I had to buy a new computer with bigger RAM to process and stitch panoramas otherwise it wouldn’t be possible.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

One day comes to mind when I was traveling by train and there was a beautiful sunset and the rays of light were illuminating the inside, just wonderful. At first I was really mad I couldn’t capture this stunning moment, but then I looked around and there were about 15 other people with their heads down looking at their cell phones completely oblivious to the glory and drama happening outside except one old lady who was enjoying the sunset as well and it made me realize how lucky I am that photography made me to see the world differently and appreciate the beauty that’s all around us.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

I think social media is the best thing and the worst thing that happened to photographers. You get worldwide exposure but you lose the ability to learn and improve your photography when your photo gets lot of likes from your friends or only as a return favor and you think because of that it’s a good photo. This is especially crucial when you’re starting out and you need (moderately) harsh constructive criticism for your photos which doesn’t happen anymore.

That’s why we see over-processed and over-saturated images that look the same as a norm today, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to compete and people would think your photos look bland. It’s easier and safer to copy someone else however standing outside the crowd and being unique might be harder but more rewarding in the end.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I visit some online photography sites to see what other photographers are doing and what new photography techniques are available, check out new photos and I’m always wondering what could I have done differently if I was there, especially what would a panorama from that place looked like.

Also I have my favorite photographers that inspires me such as Marc Adamus, Guy Tal, Philip Pankov, Madeleine Weber.

And of course the world around me is the biggest inspiration of all.

What is your best photography related tip?

Ask questions about everything. If you want to be a better photographer, ask questions and learn.

What would you like for people take away from your work?

Just a good feeling would be enough, as my friend told me she always smiles when she sees a beautiful photo. And to stop and think how amazing and beautiful our planet is and how lucky we are to be able to live here and enjoy it.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

I’m not into carrying a lot of gear, I like things simple and everything I have in my bag are must have items that I use on every trip. But the one thing (2 things) I must have apart from the obvious like the camera, lenses, SD cards and extra batteries are 2 spare remote controls. I play things safe and there is nothing worse than being without a remote control having to use the 2 second shutter delay to capture a fast setting sun as a 9 frame HDR panorama. Yes 2 seconds is too slow.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

I’m not into reading photography books much, but as long I’m on the Island I would take Ansel Adams: The Camera. We might be using digital nowadays but I think it would be a good read.

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

Well, first I would have a discussion with Mr. Branson about what planet is it as I wouldn’t go anywhere near Acheron LV-426 and also about the fact that this is a stupid rule and extra few lenses and camera body or even bringing a custom made Hasselblad won’t hurt anyone.

But let’s say he will not agree with this very rational proposal and play it hard I would bring Sony A7RII, because I’m found of Sony gear and this camera is full frame in a compact lightweight body and has a nice resolution for all the important Alien details. The two lenses would be 16-35 and 70-200 just in case we see some interesting creature in the distance.

I would be torn between bringing prime or zoom lenses, but I would love to have the 16-35 wide lens with me. But anyway, if the camera failed Mr. Branson would hear about it for the entire way back.

The two other items would be my Walkman (that’s an mp3 player for the younger generation) and “Meeting an Alien race for the first time and how not to start interstellar war for dummies” book. :)

Now let’s hope there are some actual (friendly) Aliens on the planet and not just a bunch of microbes or "something" like that.

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