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Photographing the magic atmosphere of dawn

5 years ago

Erika Valkovicova is continuously on the move between the continents exploring the world and capturing the beauty of our planet. Her hobby is to visit and photograph the World Heritage Sites, and in 2017 she became a team member at Our Place World Heritage Photographers. 

In 2018 she won the Slovakia National Award in the Sony World Photography Awards with her image of the Matterhorn at sunrise. 


Hi Erika. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your photograph

Hi there, my name is Erika. I am a freelance photographer from Slovakia and a passionate traveler who has visited over 60 countries on five continents and still counting. I specialise in landscape and nature photography. I feel drawn to the beautiful Arctic and love to photograph all kinds of icy landscapes and seascapes. I currently live in Prague, Czech Republic.


Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? How did you get started? 

My photographic journey started back in 2012 when circumstances allowed me to escape the corporate life and follow my dream to travel the world. I bought my first DSLR camera and began to document my travel experiences. I was more of a traveler than a photographer back then but later attended several workshops to improve my skills. My work reflects both my passion for travel and fascination with nature. Thanks to photography I became an outdoor person, a real nature addict. I love to sneak out of bed before dawn and wait for the first sounds of nature, often just breathing in the magic atmosphere before I set up my camera.


Tell us more about your successful image in the 2018 Sony World Photography Award

My winning image captures the Matterhorn at sunrise at 3100m above sea level from the viewing platform located behind Kulmhotel Gornergrat - the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. The photograph was taken early April 2017. My original plan was to shoot the Milky Way at night, and the only option was to stay overnight in the hotel. The clouds rolled in that evening, and it started to snow. I set my alarm every hour to check the weather, and it was around 4 am when I saw the sky clearing up. I walked up in the dark to the observation area in deep fresh snow and spent an endless two hours waiting in the cold before the sun kissed the peak of Matterhorn and the sky turned pink! I was alone until the moment my partner turned up with a cup of hot coffee to keep me warm and joined me to witness this spectacle! 


Do you have a photographic philosophy? 

I believe that visually compelling photographs can raise awareness for the need to protect and preserve our beautiful nature and cultural heritage for future generations.


Where in the world are you and what's next for you?  

I have just returned to Prague, after a 3-week adventure-packed trip to Iceland and Greenland. My next plans are to visit Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in late August to capture the daily life of a cute little harvester - the American Pika, followed by a trip to Lofoten in Norway in September to photograph the Northern Lights! I am also planning to visit the World Heritage Sites in Argentina in a few months time.