Round of applause please!

Our congratulations go to Monika Michalova who won the hidden courtyards photo contest with the above shot. 🙂 We particularly like the composition, and how the black and gold sign is so beautifully offset against the pale gold buildings behind. If you’d like to see the other entries, then do take a look at our photo contest album.

As with all our photo contests, we’re unable to offer any prizes. (Sad I know, but such is life for a non-profit organisation run by volunteers!) So instead, through our Member Spotlight series, we offer our winners the chance to shine with a feature interview, and showcase a few of their favourite photos you won’t have seen before.

I hope you enjoy finding out about Monika, and maybe you’ll follow-up on one or two of the photography websites she helpfully shares? 🙂

1. How did you get into photography and what do you hope to achieve with it?

I’ve been taking pictures ever since I can remember. Like most people I was taking pictures during my student life (I was an international student in Moscow in the 90s). At the time there were no digital cameras, instead we took pictures on film that we had chemically processed. However it was quite expensive: the price of the film, developing it, and photo production. So while capturing photos I had to keep this in mind and thus all my pictures had to be meaningful. I used the same camera to capture the early years of my two children.

But the turning point was when I started taking photography more seriously (around three years ago) when a friend of mine lent me a DSLR camera. I was instantly hooked, and I realized that if I got the chance I would love a camera of my own, to be able to capture those precious moments in pictures. So it was on my wish list.

Professionally I am a lighting engineer, and I’m very passionate about light in any form. We were co-organizing a great event – Tatry Ice Master, where we created ice statues in High Tatras, Slovakia when I had a DSLR camera in my hand for the second time in my life – and then I decided to push my wish towards reality.

So very soon afterwards I went to a shop in Vienna and bought my first (and until this moment, my only) camera – a Nikon D3200 with a set of lenses. I was so happy, until I saw all those buttons which I couldn’t understand! I was not satisfied taking pictures only in auto mode, so my next step was to find out how to use all the available settings.

I attended a small photography course – 3 x 1.5 hours  –which gave me a very basic knowledge. It was not enough however, for which reason I followed this up with an extended course organized by the European House of Photography in Bratislava. This course consisted of 10 sessions of 3 hours each,  and showed me various techniques – production photography, portraits in the studio, street photography, luminography, etc.

I always have a camera ready in my hand waiting for a good moment to capture forever. I’m definitely not one of those people who just buys an (expensive) camera to take pictures occasionally.

2. What type/s of photography are you most passionate about, and why?

I’m not passionate about only one type of photography; I like variety. The kind of pictures I feel like taking greatly depend on my mood. When travelling (usually with my family) I try to capture moments which are so different to daily life – architecture, people on the street, and my dog and children doing funny poses.

When I have the need to take some time off, I just go out and walk around the city with my camera in my hands. If I’m in a good mood, I take pictures of lively animals, small or big like those that can be found in the Schmetterling Haus, or Haus des Meeres. And if I’m feeling lazy, I stick to unanimated objects like buildings and nature.

My colleagues recognized my talent and now, every time there is an event (various team-building activities, case studies and celebrations), it is almost an unsaid rule that I will take pictures. Afterall, they need to give me a chance to practise, right? 😉

3. How do you educate yourself to take better photos?

As photography is not my professional job, and as I do it as a “self-learner”, of course I am always looking for any chance of education. Today getting information seems to be much easier because of the internet. This is also my first point of education – unfortunately by profession I am really busy, travelling a lot and I don’t have regular time/schedule that would allow me to attend regular courses. Some my favourite pages are:

and facebook groups, where people exchange their work and comment on what they think about each other’s work.

4. Share with us – do you have a favorite photo of all time? What is it that you most like about it?

My favorite photo was taken last September at the Vienna Photo Marathon. Having the theme “All beginnings are hard” it was really hard to find content. This shot came to me at a park, where a boy kept showing his father how he can “fall down”. This scene was exactly what I was looking for. The boy didn’t speak, but was in a good mood. One can almost say cooperating, and the final picture was simply good!

Last note: Not many of my pictures are published online as I’m a rather traditional, “paper” person. I like to have my work in my hands. Exactly for this reason, my work is displayed proudly in photobooks which are taking up space in my apartment. They are dangerously expanding…

5. What is your experience of Vienna Photo Walk?

Since I am living between Bratislava and Vienna, I was looking for any opportunity to attend a kind of workshop in any of these cities. Those I attended in the Czech Republic were amazing, but difficult to follow due to the distance and the cost reflecting the quality quite harshly.

Vienna Photo Walk is a great solution – you can meet nice people who love photography like you do, create new friendships, or just enjoy not being alone when taking photos. Not to mention having fun outside, and being part of group of people who are willing to help you learn and develop your skills.


Hope to see you on the next photo walk!

All the best,


All photos taken by Monika Michalova.


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