"I ran off to the circus." Those are the exact words uttered by our second Lomography Newcomer when asked to share a little something about herself. It’s not every day you get the chance to meet someone whose professional life has been fully dedicated to the circus. Kateřina (aka @katerin_p) is someone who lives an extraordinary life through the line of work that she does and the new creative skills she picks up along the way — with one of them being film photography.
We find Kateřina in Prague, managing a diverse team of performers as they gear up for their upcoming shows around Europe. As the production manager for a contemporary circus based in the "golden city", Kateřina’s life revolves around the stage and everything that breathes life into it.
Early years in theatre
An art management and theatre production graduate from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Kateřina has been surrounded by artists for most of her life. Coming from a family who valued the arts and was actively involved in theatre, it was natural for her to fall deeply in love with the art form and the whole community around it.
“My life is very much defined by my job. We joke about it being “full-life” instead of full-time job. You can imagine it as being a mama to dozens of people, responsible for everything you can think of. Sometimes it feels like being a professional problem-solver. And I love it.”
Since immersing herself in her role as a production manager and all that it entails — creating a spectacle for all kinds of audiences, and the creative partnerships she shares with the cast and crew — she thought it was time to venture out into other ways of experiencing the show. The result? She turned to the practice of analogue photography.
Partly inspired by the creative scene in Prague and the nature of her production work in the circus, she gravitated towards film due to its uniquely grounded approach to the photographic form.
“I like things that aren’t flat. With digital, you can take a shot and immediately forget about it. You might even not look at the picture ever again, such as millions of people do with their smartphones.”
“What you do is a real, physical, chemical process happening there and then, and it can’t happen exactly the same ever again. It’s the uniqueness that interests and impresses me.”
Committed to the form
Supported by a close group of friends who also shoot in analogue, Kateřina continues to share her passion and learnings on film with them. However, with the desire to be challenged through the medium and form, she sought out platforms that would push one’s self to fully immerse, go further, and connect with the global community.
“I have a lot of people around who photograph on analogue, so we often share our results, experience, and passion for it. But it is still more of just between friends than having a real community that would support, motivate, and push you to go further in it. Which is exactly the reason I joined Lomography.”
She first learned about the Lomography community when searching for a specific film stock — curious about the variation of colors and its technical range.
The jump into analogue
“I prefer to watch the world through the viewfinder than through screens. To enjoy the time of the process. To stop, to watch, to think. To wait for the results. To feel the excitement of every finished roll of film and to be expecting every single picture to get back to me from lab.”
Kateřina took the learning curves that come with analogue photography in her stride. Valuing the process it takes to craft each shot, she admits to how she would prefer to primarily trust her gut and be intentional with the frame (when shooting on film) instead of reaping the instant “rewards” of digital. She sees film as a way to break some of her old habits in her approach to photography.
“Also I don’t like to edit photos, which is something that is essential for digital photography. I'd rather spend the time by taking a moment while taking the shot to really think it through, knowing that it is just a unique one-time chance at that exact moment.”
Set on learning the ins and outs of film photography, Kateřina does not run short of tools to experiment with. Currently logging in at eight film cameras at her disposal (with a portion of them having been passed down by her parents and the other half through lucky finds at the flea market), she still sticks to her top two favorites: a Canon AF35MII and Praktika SLR.
Mainly photographing the in-betweens of rehearsals and shows, her knowledge and familiarity that come with years of experience in the performing arts are translated into intimate yet extremely atmospheric images that cannot be replicated by just anyone else.
Two photo albums entitled blurry memories and life is a circus encompass the work that she does. From the photographs she’s taken thus far, she shares her personal favorite from the “life is a circus” photo album:
“Karina is Ukrainian and 17 years old in the picture. She came to us a year and a half ago, after the war in Ukraine started, along with her schoolmates who came to us from Kyiv Circus Academy to continue their circus training at our training space in the theatre. Denise is Czech, and she was only 14 years old in this picture. She is the youngest member of our company, and I’m really proud of how enormously she grew up personally and professionally since I first met her. Their bond is exceptional. I have never seen friendship like this, in spite of language and cultural barriers, but these two are just…it’s indescribable for me.”
Being part of the Lomography community has opened Kateřina up to be more attuned to the contemporary world through the lens of film.
“Since I joined the Lomography community, I started looking around myself more. I am looking at things, people, moments, sceneries, through an imaginary viewfinder in my head and I am picturing how the shot would look like if I took it.”
“You can get inspiration, motivation, appreciation, understanding, and the feeling of belonging between people who have the same interest and passion as you. I have missed that in my life for so long. Safe space for analogue freaks.”
She also gives a shoutout to @dw-etc, a fellow Lomography community member whose work has moved her and left her “sitting and just watching the photos for hours, trying to figure out how the hell he does it!”
You might be wondering what’s next on Kateřina’s film journey? She proudly shares how she finally got her hands on her first ever Portra 400 and 160 rolls. Moreover, she states that he’s looking to explore other more dynamic film stocks such as Wolfen NC 500 Color, CineStill 800 Tungsten, CineStill 400 Dynamic, the LomoChrome series, and Berlin Kino B&W. On top of this, she's also eyeing gadgets such as the Diana camera line that would help her foray into the instant camera world.
As for style and technique, she’s been looking into working on a double exposure roll after viewing Lomography community members’ photos on the site.
We’re looking forward to what Kateřina crafts next — especially when she combines her love for theatre and photography. In the meantime, we give another warm Lomography welcome to @katerin_p!
Thank you to @katerin_p for speaking with us and sharing her early experiences with film photography! Looking to join a global community of creatives and artists who all share a love for film? Join Lomography and create your own LomoHome here.