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End frame: “A Walk in Mionsi” by Josef Sudek

Matt Lethbridge chooses one of his favourite images

Matt Lethbridge

I have been making landscape photographs for around 8 years now and I am very passionate about what I do.I really enjoy the creative challenges brought on by working with natural light, especially in variable weather conditions. I have just started to dip my toe in the water with 35mm film photography and I an looking forward to the many challenges ahead.Flickr


It’s a strange feeling when you come across a photograph that really echoes your own personal vision as a photographer. Especially so when the picture in question was made before you were even born....

It is only in the last year or two that I have become aware of Josef Sudek and his work. Although he is well known for his works in such books as “The Window of my Studio” and “St Vitus’s Cathedral” along with his still life works, I had never considered him as a Landscape Photographer until a friend suggested I took a look at his work in the book Mionsi Forest.

Before continuing on to the picture, a little about the man himself. Born in 1896 in Bohemia, he trained as a bookbinder, a career that was interrupted by the outbreak of The First World War. While serving he took up amateur photography. In 1917, while serving at the front he was hit by shrapnel in what we would now call a “friendly fire incident”. As a result of his injury, he had to have his right arm amputated.

After recovering from his injuries, he went on to study photography and in 1924, having graduated from the College of Graphic Arts began to photograph the completion of St Vitus’s Cathedral in Prague, where he said “That’s where it began....”

Sudek then went on to produce many fine works throughout his life, along with quite a few books, Mionsi Forest being but one. Mionsi Forest is a collection of photographs made in the forest around the Beskid Mountains in Northeast Moravia between 1950 and 1970, usually in the company of his best friend and assistant Petr Helbich. Even with an assistant to give help, it must have been incredibly difficult to use a large format camera in such a remote location as this, with only one arm. When Sudek died in 1976, Mionsi Forest and Vanished Statues became definitive works as part of his retrospectives.

The picture that I have chosen completely stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. I was totally transfixed. It has everything that I had been striving for in my own work and looked ever so slightly familiar, perhaps the ghost of Sudek had been in my photographic vision all the time without me knowing it?

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