Honza Řeháček is a photographer, video maker and online content creator. He has an account on social networks called @kopernikk, which currently has more than half a million followers. In it, he maps his adventures with his dog partner in crime, named Sitka. You can find out more about this cool couple in the following interview!
Hi Honza, can you introduce yourself at the beginning, please? Where are you from? What do you do?
Hi, I'm Honza Řeháček, last year I celebrated my thirties and for the last six years I have been involved in photography, video and online marketing in general. When I was 24, I did office work, in which I managed six people over time. The stress of responsibility and the fact that I couldn't handle it at all generally drove me to two heart attacks. I thought that was enough, so somehow I started looking for myself. I started to go to the mountains regularly, then I added photography and later even my dream dog, a Czechoslovakian wolfhound named Sitka. This whole thing somehow fit together, and it has lasted until today. What I like most about it, is that thanks to the online world, I have access to all the creators in the world, so the inspiration and let's say "competition" keeps me moving forward. It completely engulfed me, even though last year I had about a six-month crisis, during which it seemed that I was going to cut it. But luckily it all came back to me and now it's completely different.
You have a very popular account on social networks called @kopernikk. What does the name mean?
It can be viewed from two angles. One is that the name @kopernikk came from one of my best friends. Once I was called Janíček Perníček. And it has nothing to do with drugs, haha. They then made Kopernik out of it. And later, when I was looking for a nickname to put on Instagram, I remembered that Kopernik. It was also through astronomer Mikuláš Kopernik, because I am an old stars observer. From an early age, I am fascinated by the stars and the universe in general. I have had a book about the universe since I was eight years old, and to this day I still get back to it, learn constellations and so on. So these are probably the two lines that are hidden behind the @kopernikk.
"My main inspiration when taking photos is nature, and overall the fact that even when I come to the same place, it's always different and unique. I enjoy that the photo is able to freeze that moment. I try to capture it and share it further. "
- Honza Řeháček
Honza Řeháček in new HF spot
@kopernikk currently has 514 thousand followers. How did you manage to run that account up to such high numbers? Was there any point when you realized that it started to grow so fast?
There have been several of these intersections in the last 6-7 years. I know that in the first two years I managed to get through tagging in photos to accounts like @moodygrams and so on, which brought in some of the first thousands of followers. Then, based on that, they contacted me from Adobe photo bank for cooperation, where I have a premium account, where I sell photos. For the next two years, I worked hard to capture the emotion in the photo and share what I perceive through the photo. At the end of 2018 came a huge boom with one of my photos. It is probably my most famous, and at the same time the most stolen photo. It also appeared in a number of photo paintings and similar things that I did not approve. So that was also one of the things why I stopped enjoying photography for a while. And then it all started when they asked me from Bored Panda for and interview with around 20 added photos. Based on this, it also started through quite high worldwide accounts on Instagram, for example like @9gag and so on. They also called me from the second largest global agency in Britain and interviewed me, which was published as a written article in the worldwide Metro magazine. Based on that, those numbers rised somewhere to 300 thousand. And one of the biggest highlights in the photo was probably the sharing by Peter McKinnon. I used his hashtag and he chose me among the top 10 and based on that, people still write to me today that they discovered me through his YouTube channel. And then it grew to half a million. It was unimaginable to me, it never occurred to me that it could go that far. For a while, the numbers were still growing, but in 2020, I was not very active due to the personal crisis, so it began to degrade. But I don't take it badly, on the contrary, it just cleans up and I understand that not everyone enjoys it. Even now, for the most part, I wonder where to move it. In a short time, it reached such a peak that in a way I overtook myself and I didn't know what to do with it.
With such huge numbers, there is basically a certain "responsibility" for what you put there. Didn't it get on your nerves? Didn't you get lost in it, in some way?
I got lost in it. That responsibility is not only from the point of view of what you put there, but also from the fact that you realize that over half a million people on this planet can perceive you. You have to think about what message you are spreading to them. Overall, the "fame" hit me in some way, even though they are still just some virtual numbers. I don't mean, I don't appreciate it. On the contrary. But it was difficult to deal with it, because I was absolutely not prepared for it. It came out of nowhere. And for a few months, it hit me, that's true.
Let's move on to the content of the @kopernikk account now. The biggest star out there is currently your dog partner, Sitka. How did you two put it together?
I keep this profile as a photo diary of what we experience together. We travel a lot, we walk a lot. The Czechoslovakian wolfhound is a demanding breed for movement, psyche and overall mastery. After all, it has something of a wolf in it, so it's not the usual dog breed. The wolf has fascinated me since I was a child, and when I found out that there is a dog breed in which there is a certain percentage of the Carpathian wolf, I thought that it could be a great partner. It was sometime after I collapsed for the first time in my 24 years. He is such a quiet companion who does not mind that we will go another 10 km extra or that the weather is not exactly favorable. In the mountains I give him the maximum possible freedom, I watch him as he perceives the world and based on that I take photos and videos with him.
Does Sitka attended any training and can he "pose" or are all those photos snapshots?
I didn't go to any training with him. It is true that for the first few months I did have a hard time coping with his nature, because even though I thought I was ready for him, I was absolutely not. I started reading a lot of literature about wolves and how they work, and that helped me a lot. I learned to perceive what he needs. The photos and what I create with him are made in such a way that we go somewhere, I let him discover, and when he lies down or stands somewhere, I press the shutter button. And if we are in a place where the right light comes, I just use a treat and I know I have a few seconds to take a picture.
Do you have any fun stories from these trips together? Didn't he catch something or so?
Fortunately, he hasn't caught anything yet. During his puberty, he had two beautiful days in a row, when I almost shouted out my voice. On the first day it was the deer behind which he ran headless and on the second day the rabbit. But there was a terrible fog and he disappeared in it. I was scared, as I knew there was a road with heavy traffic nearby. I shouted at him in such a way that when I came home, my voice disappeared. Fortunately, he didn't catch up with the rabbit, and when I found him, he didn't even want to come to me, because he knew he was in trouble. And then he performed another such heart attack. We were by a lake in the Vysočina region, Sitka ran to the lake, where there was already a fine crust of ice, he didn't realise it, he fell down and disappeared under the ice. I was about 50 m from him, but you wouldn't want to experience that feeling at that moment. Luckily he swam up, he started punching the ice with his paws, I ran up to him, I pulled him out, threw him ashore and I collapsed next to him and breathed it out. Well, after a while, this guy shaked off and jumped back in there, haha.
How long have you been a photographer? And what is your main inspiration?
In fact, since those 24 years. So now I'm starting my seventh season. My main inspiration when taking photos is nature, and overall the fact that even if I come to the same place, it is always different and unique. I enjoy that the photo is able to freeze that moment. I'm trying to capture it and then share it. And the last four years I'm most fascinated by sunrises. When the day begins, it simply has its charm.
Where do you spend most of your time taking pictures?
Krkonoše mountains and Jizerky. That is my little Alaska, which I discovered here, within the Czech Republic. Many places took my breath away. I never expected that we have such beautiful places here.
How did you, as a content creator, manage the covid period? Is it work that can be done during a pandemic? Did you have enough clients and orders or did you find yourself at a standstill like so many people during this situation?
In 2020, it all hit me a bit, there were also some personal things in it and I got into strange mental states. So I ended 80 % of my collaborations. I just needed time for myself. But in the process, I at least clarified my priorities and how I wanted to continue to work. But being a content creator is a promising field even during a crisis. The world has moved into the online space and it occurs to me that many companies have realized that quality photo and video are important and will continue to be much more important in the online world than before. It is one of the professions with which it is possible to work even during a crisis and locdowns. You can create all the time.
Let's move to you now. What does Honza do when he's not @kopernikk?
Thanks to 2020, I started skateboarding again. This is a thing that has accompanied me since I was 12 years old. Then when I was around 22 I pushed it into the background and I just became an office person for a while. But I came back to it. I really enjoy skateboarding and the board community. Thanks to that, I still have many great people in my life, whom I met as a teenager on a skateboard. They are mostly creative people. What I do, I don't even take as a job, so I'm often quite absorbed in it. Sometimes a few days in a row and sometimes, on the contrary, I am off, but at the same time I am still in that nature. Because I just need to take Sitka out, I need to think, and since I'm quite a restless person, movement helps me calm my head. The same is in skateboarding. I know that when I jump on my skate, my head turns off and I just leave with a smile.
You recently shot a spot for HF in which you were an "actor". What was it like to be on the other side of the lens?
It was great, I absolutely enjoyed it. It was great that it was filmed by Honza Minol, who inspired me on a skateboard as a kid and suddenly he stood behind the camera, I was in front of it and a collaboration was formed. It gave me a lot of inspiration, watching him work. And I didn't feel bad or nervous in front of that camera at all. Nothing like that. In addition, all the activities that appeared in the spot are very close to me, so even though I got up around half past four in the morning to shot it all in one day, at the end of the day I was still full of energy and I know that then I couldn't even fell asleep properly. I really enjoyed the whole day.
Do you have any favorites from the new spring collection?
As part of the filming, I tried new stuff from the spring collection. And I materially liked the shirt. What I found great was the shorts. It was about 10 degrees outside, the water could have 5-6 degrees and even in that conditions, the shorts dried on me very quickly. The material was also very pleasant. So I enjoyed them a lot.
In the end, do you have something you would like to pass on to people?
Life wisdom, haha. As for people who perceive my work in any way, whether they follow me or not, I am grateful for it, because it managed to change my life. I will probably say only one thing: when it's possible for a fool with a camera and a dog that he can live his life, then everyone has the right to do so. Whoever has dreams and wants to fulfill them, go and fulfill them. It's worth it. Although it hurts sometimes.