Photography is like wine, with the passing of time most often of major importance

Photographer Oleg Gritskevich climbs mountains for desired shot

By Maria Brutsevich

The winner of National Geographic’s Most Amazing Moments contest has inherited his passion from his father. In his childhood, they would spend evenings developing black-and-white film together, printing photos. On seeing the boy’s interest in photography, Oleg’s father bought him a ‘Smena’ camera, when he was just 9 years old. Since then, Oleg, now 38, has been establishing himself as a photographer. “The camera allows me to feel the moment more deeply,” he admits. “Each time I click the shutter, I feel closer to this moment. Before making a shot, I try to see it as it would appear on paper.”

Oleg read about National Geographic’s Most Amazing Moments contest from a Belarusian photo website, one day before its deadline. He sent in several photos online and, from over 2,000 entries, the jury chose his Overflow of Holy Waters. It seems impossible to define the plot of the shot at first sight, although we are left with the impression that computer graphics have been used. In reality, it is the result of the photographer’s sharp eye. He finds the perfect moment for the shot, showing the top of a Hindu temple barely above the waterline during a flood. It was taken from a hotel balcony in Indian Varanasi. “I wanted it to inspire wonder in those who saw it, since it’s not immediately apparent what’s being depicted,” Oleg smiles. “I think this may be one of the reasons why the jury chose my work.”

As a rule, Oleg tends to plan each shot, perhaps waking early, before dawn, to catch the right light or weather conditions. If the sun disappears or rain begins, it can spoil everything. He once spent several days waiting for a particular shot of an ancient temple complex in Cambodia. Oleg believes that sunrise and sunset are the best times for taking photos. Accordingly, he always takes his camera when going for an evening or morning run. Most of his photos have been taken in Asia, where Oleg often travels. “People who think in the Eastern way are less affected by globalisation,” he muses. “Moreover, Eastern countries boast a mild, tropical climate, with high mountains and wild beaches. In addition, some of Asia’s ethnic communities have remained as they were 500 years ago, with little changing in their lifestyle or architecture.”

He tries to travel ‘off the beaten track’, since he finds it more interesting to climb an unknown 5,000m mountain peak than to walk well-trodden routes. He has never been to the Egyptian pyramids or Everest but has climbed Elbrus alone, discovering the wild Tibetan mountains, walking where others have not. According to Oleg, it’s impossible to conquer a mountain’s peak, since nature is always stronger than man. Each summit can only be stood upon momentarily, before the mountain reclaims its supremacy and drives the climber back to safety. However, the Asian mountains seem well-disposed towards the Belarusian photographer, having allowed him to enjoy their beauty. Oleg’s shots of these amazing, almost unexplored, places take your breath away.

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