on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Vanda Ralevska – Portrait of a Photographer

Finding your little haven on your doorstep

Matt Payne

Matt Payne

Matt Payne is a landscape photographer and mountain climber from Durango, Colorado. He’s the host of the weekly landscape photography podcast, “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen,” co-founder of the Nature First Photography Alliance, and co-founder of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards. He lives with his wife, Angela, his son Quinn, and his four cats, Juju, Chara, Arrow, and Vestal.


Beauty is all around us, but sometimes what differentiates our ability to notice is that beauty is a matter of perspective, shaped by everything that makes us who we are as individuals. Our childhood experiences, education, hobbies, adventures in nature, the people we meet, the books we read, and the trials we go through as human beings all factor into shaping us and making us unique. This uniqueness is our number one gift as photographers. It isn’t the gear we choose to purchase, the locations we decide to travel to, or the editing techniques we learn (although these are all important to one degree or another, of course). By focusing on what makes us who we are, we open the door for personal expression and allow the world to see how we see.

The subject of this article, Vanda Ralevska, is an example of how perspective can shape how we see the world and what we appreciate and notice about it as photographers. She grew up in the former country of Czechoslovakia in a coal mining area – shaped by that world and those times. Throughout childhood, she found herself surrounded by coal mines, blast furnaces, and chimneys. Her father gifted her a camera at a young age, which opened a whole new way of discovering the world around her. This unique upbringing in Czechoslovakia helped forge who she is today and what makes her gravitate towards the subjects she does.


A large focus of Vanda’s approach to photography and how she chooses subjects revolves around finding things of interest “close to her doorstep.”

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