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JOSEPH KUDELKA: GENIUS DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER

In the treasury of the documentary photographer more than 100 famous works. He skillfully conveys his vision of the world and attitude to the situation through the camera lens, he is not afraid to express thoughts and criticize famous personalities. Even those photographs taken fleetingly look as if the author had been building the composition for a long time, looking for a good angle. One picture of a brilliant photographer could tell a whole story, convey the mental state of the heroes who fell into the lens. Joseph’s career is not finished. He works today, delighting fans with new masterpieces.

Life path

The future documentary photographer was born on January 10, 1938. His childhood passed in the village of Boskivtsi (South Maravansky Krai).

After graduation, he entered the Prague Technical University. At this stage, Josef Koudelka did not plan to connect his life with photography, but the camera often appeared in his hands during walks. A diligent student in 1961 received a degree, and for the next 6 years he worked as an aircraft engineer. At the same time, he continued to engage in photography at an amateur level. In parallel with the main work, he got a job in the capital’s theater as a photographer.

In 1967, a photo exhibition was organized in Krakow, at which Kudelka presented his works. The competent commission drew attention to the “live” photos. Joseph was recognized as a professional photographer, after which his life found a new vector of development. He began to deal closely with his hobby, turned it into a profession.

In 1968, a talented and ready to sacrifice his own life for the sake of a good shot photographer Ian Berry, working at the Magnum photo agency, noticed. Having looked closely at Joseph Kudelka, the agency management accepted him into the state in 1971. Here he worked closely with the then-famous photojournalist Henri-Cartier Bresson. Subsequently, they became good friends. In 1980, Joseph received French citizenship and continued to work in the “land of love.” In 1994, Koudelka was invited to take part in the filming of The Look of Wiliss. Unusual works that are long embedded in the memory, the photographer pleases his fans today.

Creative way

Photography fascinated Joseph Kudelka from childhood. The first camera was purchased with the proceeds of the sale of strawberries to the ice cream maker. Even without special training, the young photographer managed to catch interesting shots, convey through the pictures the mood and important thoughts about society.

After Joseph was recognized as a professional photographer at the Krakow exhibition, he is closely involved exclusively in photography. The first topic that aroused his interest was the life of gypsies. In order to capture the life and traditions of this people, Koudelka went to Romania.

He has been collecting material for 10 years. The result of the work was the book “Gypsies”. At that time, she brought universal fame to the already well-known photographer in narrow circles. The photographer did not expect such an assessment of his work. Along with recognition came responsibility for the published material. In an interview, Joseph noted that after the publication of the book on Gypsies, it was difficult to come to terms with the idea that not only people to whom he himself showed them can now see his works.

Joseph managed to capture the invasion of the Warsaw Treaty member states in Prague on August 21, 1968. Footage could cost the photographer a life. Later, the pictures were taken out of the country and Elliott Erwitt, to whom they fell into their hands, published them in many foreign publications.

For security reasons, the author’s name was not indicated. Koudelka claimed his authorship only in 1984, after the death of his father, who lived in Czechoslovakia. Besides him, the photographer did not have relatives in the country. Koudelka himself at that time already lived in France.

A certain contribution to the professional development of Joseph was made by communication with Henri Cartier-Bresson. The employees who became friends, young photographers at that time, did not like each other’s style. Sound criticism contributed to the constant work on yourself.

Joseph always preferred black and white photography. He tried to work with color film. This led to the fact that he began to doubt his black and white photographs, and returned to the monochrome. Such a choice, according to Joseph, was also due to the complexity of working with color film. It was difficult to control the composition due to the fact that all the films for printing at that time for printing in color were different from each other.

Among the works of the documentary photographer are many pictures of people who are looking for their place in life. All these photos are combined in the book “Exiles”. And, if the work on it, as well as on “Gypsies” is completed, then the author continues to work on the project “Black Triangle”. The album consists of pictures of landscapes that are no longer there.

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