Lukáš Zeman has graduated from Information Technology at the University of Pardubice. He is an owner of a graphic design studio, and works on a number of projects. Currently he is being bombarded by questions from journalists. Even though he had not expected it, he won the Czech Press Photo 2018. Interestingly enough, his wife originally suggested that he delete the winning picture.
Your winning picture was a photo of a female orangutan holding a dying child. Can you describe the circumstances of taking the picture on Borneo?
Capturing the wildlife depends on coincidence, and you have to be it the right place at the right time. The photo was taken at the border of the Tanjung Puting National Park, where we spent four days watching various groups of orangutans and proboscis monkeys. At one moment we saw a male orangutan on the river bank, where there is a palm plantation; a moment later the guide brought to our attention a female with a child.
Your wife suggested that you delete the picture. Why didn’t you do it?
After taking the picture, I showed her the photo on the display and she blurted out: “Oh my, it is dead, delete it.” I immediately replied that I would not do it because it could be used at some point in relation to the situation of Kalimantan (Borneo) rainforests and the expansion of the industry and palm plantations. Even when registering it together with another photo in the Czech Press Photo Contest a few months later, I had no idea that it would spark such an interests.
You have graduated from Information Technology at the University of Pardubice. What are your memories of the studies?
I studied at a time when the faculty was being established; when I was finishing the MA studies, the programme was still implemented by the Jan Perner Faculty of Transport as the new faculty was under an accreditation process when I was finishing the BA programme. All in all, my memories of the studies are positive. Naturally, sometimes I had better time, sometimes worse; some courses were easier, some were more difficult. I was far from being a perfect student. From today’s perspective, I only recall the good times, and as most people, regret that the stress-free student life did not last longer.
Do you have any recommendations for today’s students?
Do an internship or spend a semester abroad. It will open new horizons for you. And you must have intrinsic motivation to study, the fact that it is expected of you is not sufficient motivation. Find something that you will like, and everything will go smoother.
You work on a number of projects. You run a graphic design studio, you print photos and take photos in your atelier. Do you plan to offer something else?
I have a few tips, but the work I do now on internet projects, in a graphic design studio and in a printing office or atelier is so time consuming that I have little time for travelling around the world and taking pictures. Not to mention launching new projects. It is also a problem to find colleagues that you can rely on and put part on the activities in their charge. Fortunately, I have such people in the printing office as well as in the atelier right now.
You live in Pardubice. What places in the surroundings do you prefer for taking pictures?
The disadvantage of Pardubice is the fact that the city is surrounded by flatland. So there are not that many places in the actual surroundings. But if you travel a bit further, you arrive at the bird area near Lázně Bohdaneč in one direction, or to the countryside of nearby mountains and hills in the other direction. And these offer many opportunities.
Where did you take the last picture?
It was a misty morning before the sunrise by the Labe River with a view of the Kunětice Mountain. Because of the smoke coming from the power plant in the background, I gave it a title “Where fog and clouds appear.”
Have you ever taken pictures in the surroundings of the university campus?
Thanks to fact that the Labe River is nearby, I have. Right after Stavařov, there are fields and meadows where you can take an interesting photo of the wildlife around the river.
You take pictures of the wildlife and countryside; as a freelancer, you have worked abroad a lot. What other places on the Earth have you documented?
Fewer than I would like to. Besides Kalimantan (Borneo), I have visited Tanzania, Kenya and Costa Rica. I have visited many more places here in Europe.
Where will you go next?
I have a few ideas, but I will not disclose the details now. I can only say that I find the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Circles attractive. I like going back to the tropical areas, be it in Asia or Central or South America.