Of the thousands of images that I have made in my visits to the Czech Republic this is my favourite, perhaps because of the reaction it provokes amongst my Czech friends.
I was shooting stock in Vysehrad cemetery, the final resting place of the great and the good of Czech artistic and musical society. It is always an atmospheric place, but in the last week of October there is an even more special ambience. “Family“‚ is still a very strong entity amongst the Czechs, and in the days leading up to All Souls’ Day (November 1st), whole families will go to visit the graves of their ancestors in order to light candles or to place flowers or horse-chestnuts.
Horse-chestnuts? Yes, they are regarded as a symbol of health and re-generation, giving energy and well-being. Here in Vysehrad someone had carefully arranged their contribution into this interlocking heart shape, and I just snapped it quickly, almost without pausing as I walked along a row of overgrown graves. It was later, when I uploaded the images onto my laptop, with a Czech friend looking over my shoulder to see what I had been doing that day that I realised the significance of this photograph. Rodina is the Czech word for “family”. If I had spent hours arranging this still life I could not have achieved a more emotionally charged result.
After a three-year Diploma Course in Photography at Manchester, Sheila Atter worked in education and local government, photographing everything from rocks and fossils to back-to-back slums and the high-rise flats that replaced them. A passion for travelling meant an increasing library of travel photography, marketed through the Sylvia Cordaiy Photolibrary.
Since 1992 travel has taken over and, now specialising in the Czech Republic, her photographs are marketed through Stockczech.
Stockczech images are used in books, magazines and newspapers.
Photographer since 1965, EPUK member since 2003.
See more work by Sheila Atter