5 years ago Miha Grmek began uploading his photographs to Wikimedia Commons. By doing so, he hopes to have allowed countless others to travel vicariously through his images.
Grmek loves to travel. Before every trip he uses Wikipedia as a tool to learn as much about his destination as possible. It was during one of these pre-departure research sessions of Scotland that he realized the pictures in his own collection were of higher quality than some of those he came across on Wikipedia. In many instances, Gremek explains, “The beautiful places I had visited did not have any pictures at all.” That’s when he understood just how much of a positive impact he could have by sharing his photos.
Grmek bought his first SLR when he was 18 years old and he credits the camera with helping him begin to take photography more seriously. In 2008, he acquired a Nikon D200 DSLR, which he jokingly refers to as a “dinosaur,” due to its relative age. It was with this dinosaur that he placed sixth in the 2012 Wikimedia Commons Photo of the Year competition with his panoramic photo of Kranjska Gora in Slovenia (below).
When he’s not taking photos, Grmek spends his time working for a company that specializes in railway engineering and surveying. “I’m not a professional photographer,” he admits. “It’s more of a hobby. I just love to take pictures when the time allows. It is nice to break up the routine of daily work.”
Grmek does not focus on any one subject, but he says he enjoys taking pictures of nature and landscapes the most. “I like the peace and quiet and stillness of nature,” he says. “I hope that my pictures communicate the beauty and the architecture of those places.”
When Grmek takes a photo, he makes an effort to execute the best shot possible, even in torrential conditions. Rain or shine, he rises early with the intention of capturing the perfect composition. “The trickiest part is getting up early and working in very cold conditions. As I was shooting the panorama of Bled, it was freezing and I had to stand in the snow, approximately 10cm deep,” he says. “After I had finished and was putting away my equipment, I could not get the snow off the tripod legs. I had a ball of frozen snow on the tripod legs, and had to carry it like that around for a few hours. It looked very funny!”
Grmek is proud of all his photos, but taking the picture of Lake Bled stands out as a special experience. The picture was taken on an early winter morning around 6am and it was -12 degrees Celsius. “I took a lot of photos from this location and then early one morning it all came together,” he says. “As with all of the great shots that are not taken in a studio or in a controlled environment, you need some luck with the weather, and to increase your odds, you need to go to the same location over and over again. This photo alone took 55 shots!”
Through his photos, Grmek hopes to inspire others to contribute their images to Wikimedia Commons, especially from his native country of Slovenia. “I hope my photos will inspire others to visit the same places, but most of all I hope that photos like mine will inspire other travelers to take time for each photo and try to make it a good one, not just a quick snap”.
He adds, “We are increasingly more visually-oriented. For example, I can say Bled is very nice, but how many people who have not heard of Bled will believe me without actually seeing it? Good pictures do matter on Wikipedia.”
(See more of Grmek’s photos on his Wikimedia Commons user page)
Michael Guss, Communications Volunteer