Friday, March 02, 2018

Terezín Concentration Camp

I stepped out of the bus in Terezín on a deceptively sunny winter day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining, then the cold wind whips up and whacks you like a frozen fish to the face. I was about to enter a monument to one of the darkest periods in human history.

It was a brisk -5 C outside and I would spend most of the day outdoors, so I packed my memory cards in a foam case and kept them in my front pocket, hoping that my body heat would keep them warm enough to function. My Nikon will shoot like a trooper down to -20 C with no problems, but the memory cards can freeze up at low temperatures. I carried my SanDisk Extreme III series cards. Those puppies are rated down to -10 or -15.

Terezín, or Theriesenstadt to the Germans, started its life as a fortress built in 1780 by Habsburg emperor Joseph II, who named it after his mother Maria Theresa. What a guy. The Czech territory at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose main concern in those days was keeping Prussians out of their homes and gardens.

The Prussians never made it to the fortress, which consists of two walled, star-shaped defensive walls with double moat systems and a central citadel. The place moldered away until it became a prison for anyone undesirable to the Austro-Hungarians, including the man who assassinated Franz Ferdinand and started World War I.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Terezín moldered away for a bit longer until the Nazis occupied the place and found a real dastardly use for it: a concentration camp for Jews and others deemed unworthy by 'the master race.'  Unspeakable horrors took place here, including torture and death from horrible disease. Over 150,000 Jews were sent to Terezín, including 15,000 children. Nazis were real rat bastards.

I walked down the windswept path through the Jewish cemetery which contained mostly unmarked graves, adorned only with small gravestones with numbers and small pebbles and stones laid on them. I'm not sure why Jews lay stones on graves, and Google wasn't much help. It might have something to do with the fact that flowers don't grow in the desert, but don't quote me on that.

I continued over the outer moat trench through the main gate into the courtyard. A fancy villa stood out among rows of dilapidated brick barracks. The families of Nazi officers stayed there, and my guide informed me that they held a wedding for an officer there. During the concentration camp era. That officer must have found an extremely low maintenance bride, or they were truly living in an ivory tower, totally oblivious to the world.  A Nazi wedding held in a concentration camp, formerly a military barracks named after an Austrian's mother. What a group of romantics.

Eventually I saw the gate with the infamous Nazi motto which is scrawled over every concentration camp in Europe: “Arbeit Macht Frei.” Work makes (one) free. The 'master race' were master liars as well: they even gussied up the nearby Jewish ghetto as a propaganda tool. 'See? We're treating the Jews just fine.'  Only the children's home told the truth through its art and poetry, left behind by dead children. Children were secretly encouraged to express themselves and nurture creativity in a time of crisis and death. Their works were smuggled out of the camp in suitcases, and eventually found their way back to the ghetto to adorn the memorial. Those teachers were heroes.

Down in the basement of the ghetto museum is a small cafe/bistro which serves mostly inedible fast food to the tourists. I'm not sure there should be a snack bar on the site of Nazi atrocity, and I'm also pretty sure they shouldn't be serving hot dogs. What would the Jewish visitors think? But Czech is a porcine country, so why not. Wait. What? No beer at the bistro? In a beer country like Czechia? SWINE.

After leaving the ghetto, I saw the remains of the railway used to transport the Jews on to their final destinations in the extermination camps of Auschwitz and others. I've been to Auschwitz, Dachau and now Terezín. It never gets easier to visit these places, and it never should. I feel that it is very important to remember what heinous crimes we humans as a race, 'master' or otherwise, are capable of  committing when we are at our very worst.


Henke Tour, a Danish tour company operating in the Czech Republic, booked me to photograph Terezín for their website and promotional materials.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

New Website!

I usually take the winter slow period to work on my website, and this year was no exception. Except that I redesigned the entire site and migrated it to WordPress.

The difference is huge!  Better design, easier to navigate slideshows, and more pictures!

Check it out!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Castle Weddings in the Czech Republic

An Affordable Way to Be King and Queen For a Day

Loket Castle
Brides to be, take heed!  Indulge your inner princess with a castle wedding. You can be a princess for a day and your fiancé can be your knight in shining armor. To be sure, castle weddings are completely out of reach of most commoners like us. To hold a castle wedding in the UK, you'd have to be royalty—or a surviving member of the Beatles. But there is hope!  You can fulfill your castle wedding fantasy by holding a castle wedding in the Czech Republic.

For the price of a traditional wedding in your home country, you can have a grand castle wedding in the Czech countryside. People traditionally spend 10-40,000 bucks on a wedding in The West. For that amount, you would get a church, flowers, a dinner and a photographer. But what would you do if you found out that you could spend a lot less than that to have your wedding in a castle in grand style? You'd do it, right? Let me tell you how.

Choosing a Castle for Your Wedding

Červená Lhota
As a wedding photographer I have photographed weddings in several castles in the Czech Republic. An obvious choice is Karlstejn Castle, the iconic Czech castle everyone visits on their trip to Prague. But some of my favorite castles are the ones nobody knows about, the ones sitting stoically in the rolling hills of Bohemia, or perched on a rock amid hundreds of miles of forest. The advantages of choosing a Czech country castle are many. Firstly, the price can't be beat. Prices for castle weddings outside of the Prague area drop dramatically. But the best advantage of having a castle wedding in Czech is the exclusive quality of having unique wedding images in a fairy tale setting.

Karlstejn Castle

The most popular castle in the Czech Republic by far is Karlstejn Castle (1348), located just 45 minutes from Prague. King Charles IV, the most famous king of Bohemia and namesake of the Charles Bridge in Prague, had his countryside castle residence there. Nowadays, you can easily arrange a castle wedding in Karlstejn. As the most popular castle in Czech, it is best to contact them well in advance, especially for summer weddings. To take all the pain out of the process, I recommend hiring a professional wedding planner to help with the planning and the paperwork. Ask for Thelma at Prague Wedding Planners. Tell her Craig Robinson sent you.

Karlstejn Castle

Loket Castle

Loket Castle

If you like your castles old and Gothic like I do, Loket Castle (12th century) is just the ticket. Loket Castle stands majestically on a hilltop near the spa town of Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad). Loket offers several wedding packages at extremely reasonable prices, so you can afford to be knight and princess for a day—and have plenty of ducats left for a royal feast for your family and friends.

Červená Lhota

Červená Lhota Castle
Červená Lhota Castle
If ever there was a picture perfect little castle, 14th century Červená Lhota is the one. This salmon-colored castle rises up from a rocky island in the middle of a lake. A stone bridge is the single entry point to the castle. This charming little castle is located 20 km northwest of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia. Contact the castle directly for wedding inquiries. In case of any language barriers, let Thelma's team at Prague Wedding Planners be your voice.

Zbiroh Castle

Zbiroh Castle
Zbiroh Castle
Zbiroh Castle (12th century) is a large, aristocratic, Romanesque / Gothic castle located an hour's drive southwest of Prague. Its oldest point is a ancient tower jutting out of a rock in the inner courtyard. Various royal residents renovated the castle in various styles over the years, so you can see elements of the Gothic nestled in amid Renaissance facades and Art Nouveau era fountains and gardens. Artist Alphonse Mucha lived in the castle for 20 years, and you can still see traces of his presence on the walls and in the decorations.

Hrubá Skála

Hrubá Skála

For a real kick in the aesthetics, Hrubá Skála (1353) can't be beat. Words can't do it justice, but I'll try anyway: it's an imposing castle, built on a rock, sticking out of a vast forest. Hrubá Skála is the picture-perfect location for a romantic castle wedding in the Czech Republic. You'll be treated to a royal atmosphere, surrounded by stone walls and towers with a sweeping vista of Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj), an area with more castles packed in per square mile than most of Europe. There's even a hotel, spa, and wellness center on the premises. Need I say more?

Hrubá Skála


I've photographed weddings in dozens of castles and chateaux in the Czech Republic, too many to list here. Just do a Google map search for Czech Castles for the rich visual feast of castles in store for you.

For more information about my wedding photography in Prague and beyond, contact me today.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Prague Portrait Power

Your Custom Portrait Session in Beautiful Prague

Not everyone gets to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But you can, if you want to. In the meantime, you will want to visit Prague. And when you are there, you will be astounded at how beautiful the city is—unless you succumb to heavy overdoses of fine Czech beer and stay in your hotel room for the entire visit. But that's ok too. You'll be back. Kafka says so.

Recently I took Gabriela's portraits in Prague. It was her first trip to Europe and she wanted more than photos from a selfie stick held at arm's length to remember her trip. She wanted the full-on Prague portrait experience, and I was happy to provide this service for her. Prague just can't be beat for the sheer number of beautiful backdrops for portraits—you can chuck a 10 crown coin almost anywhere in Central Prague and get a good shot from the spot where it lands.


We started in one of my favorite hidden garden spots off the beaten path. Then we worked our way through the gardens and over to Prague Castle. The Prague Castle Steps are a great location to capture the spirit of Prague Mala Strana (Little Quarter) rooftops and classic architecture.

From there we continued down to the river, where we had the most stunning view of Prague, a riverbank, the Charles Bridge and swarms of swans. I timed it to arrive exactly at sunset in order to get the 'sweet light' every photographer craves.

Gabriela was impressed by the orange tint of Prague's ubiquitous street lamps. Where she comes from, all of the street lighting is a dull white. So for a few final shots, I sent her home with memories of the Old Town Square awash in a sea of orange.

For more information about your personalized Prague portrait tour, contact me today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prague Photo Tours

Take Your Photography to the Next Level in Beautiful Prague

Craig Robinson, a working professional photographer 

- Do you have a new digital camera that you are having trouble mastering?

- Still trying to figure out the thousands of settings?

- Are you familiar with photography, but need to take it to the next level?

If so, I offer guided photo tours and photography workshops suited just for you.  I am a working professional photographer with over 20 years of professional photography experience in America and Europe. I offer beginning and intermediate digital photography courses in Prague.  My approach is simple: I provide intensive, hands-on photo tours and workshops in Prague with the emphasis on taking pictures rather than boring classroom theories.

Students meet for a short introductory lecture, than proceed outdoors to photograph in various exciting locations in Prague.  Each student will receive individual instruction and guidance during the workshop. After shooting, we review and critique the photos on a laptop. I have taught these courses for 5 years in Prague and 4 years in Berlin. My students have reported rapid improvement in a very short time.

- No need to book months in advance for a specific date.
- Contact me today to set up your own private or group tour.
- Major discounts for groups; bring your friends and save!
- The photo concepts taught can be used with any camera.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Buddha and the Art of Event Photography

One of the nice things about being a professional event photographer is the wide variety of venues I get to work.  I've photographed cabaret dinner shows in 19th century industrial plants in Berlin and Chinese dancers in Prague's Old Town Square.  Each event I photograph has a new stage set for an evening's interaction of like-minded professionals.

Recently I photographed an event for Qatar Airways in Prague at the Siddharta Cafe in the Buddha Bar Hotel, Prague.  The cargo services division was expanding its scope to include Prague, so an elegant soiree was in order.  A fine international crowd was present, and the festivities began with cocktails and canapés in the sumptuous Siddharta Cafe.  A DJ spun silky grooves with an electronic soft jazz touch.  It made me wonder if the Buddha Lounge Bar music I've heard was composed here.

Buddhas are everything and everywhere  here.  Back-lights and colored statues accentuated the mood of the evening, but what intrigues me most about my event gigs are the odd details.  In a New Age/East-West modern cafe like this, one would expect maybe a massage or an exotic tea/elixir as a welcome.  Instead, a caricature artist plunked his easel down and started drawing guests.  Bushy beards grew to monstrous proportions and shy ladies with giant eyes peered out of his blank canvas.

The artist continued sketching and passing out portraits to happy guests throughout the evening, and I enjoyed my position as one of the blue collar artists plying his trade at the party.

Craig Robinson is a professional photographer with nearly 20 years of experience photographing people and events on two continents.  Contact the photographer today for a quote for your next event in Prague, Berlin or beyond...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Craig Robinson Zombography

Zombies are HUGE. Once a quiet group, shuffling along in the shadows in search of brain food (fish?), zombies have clawed their way out of their graves and shambled into the spotlight of Tinseltown. You've got your zombie movies, zombie sequels, zombie tv shows, zombie tv show spinoffs, zombie talk shows and even zombie walks. Zombies have eclipsed vampires as the most popular creatures in the underworld—living, dead or undead.

The last time I wrote about mainstream horror films was a story for the Prague Post about the production of (yet) another vampire movie—in this case, Van Helsing, shot in Prague's Barrandov Studios. Being a photographer, my shutter finger twitched nervously through the entire tour of the set. I was not allowed to photograph ANYTHING, which for a photographer-slash-movie-slash-slasher-film-fan-slash-writer, was like a kick in the netherworld. Needless to say, there was nothing top secret to spill: the vampires sucked the blood, the Helsing staked the hearts. During my research I discovered that over 700 vampire films had been made since the days of the first film, making vampires the single most popular monsters in film. Ever. And one of those first films was Nosferatu, a German film made before there was even a modern Germany (it was credited as The Weimar Republic back then).

700 films and 100 years later, people grew tired of all the blood sucking and wanted some good old-fashioned brain munching instead (I think the vampire death knell was the production of sparkly-skinned teen vampire movies). I have the good fortune of being good friends with the originators of the first public zombie walk, which occurred on the streets of my hometown of Sacramento, California in 2001. My good friends at Trash Film Orgy gave me my first taste of zombography, and I've been doing it every time I get a chance. I've photographed zombie walks in Sacramento, Berlin and (for the hat trick) Prague.

If you've got zombie walks, then eventually you're going to get a zombie run. Enter: the Prague 5k Zombie Run on October 31, 2015. While Halloween is not a traditional holiday west of the UK, the organizers of the event must have been hip to all those Halloween movies and the general spookiness of that date. What is a zombie run? Zombies shuffle, right? You can outrun them in a wheelchair, right? Well, as the vampire character developed, so did zombies. Starting with the 28 Days Later film franchise, these rotting dudes could RUN YOU DOWN. They were seriously brain starved and made no bones about it. So on that special spooky day last autumn, I climbed Vitkov Hill to check out the action.

Vitkov Hill separates the districts of Karlin and Žižkov in Prague. From the spearhead of the hill, the third largest equestrian statue in the world gazes over a killer view of Prague from 180 degrees. Mounted upon this giant steed is the one-eyed General Jan Žižka, Protestant Hussite warrior and generous giver of his name to the working class quarter of Žižkov below. Just behind the tremendous haunches of the horse lies a massive mausoleum full of dead commies.  When it is not being just another soviet eyesore, the venue hosts art exhibitions and other cultural events. On All Hallows Eve, Mr Ž was all about the Zs. A 5 km route circled the hill and joggers—some of them dressed as zombies—ran the course. For the joggers not dressed like zombies, special squads of hidden zombies jumped out of the bushes and terrorized them.

Czechs can really get into the zombie motif. In addition to the various stages of gore makeup, shredded clothing and decomposition, these Zs ate sausage links soaked in ketchup—pulled from the bellies of fallen joggers. In grand Czech tradition, they even washed their meal down with delicious Czech beer. After the brain buffet, the full zombies sat around drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. As Czech zombies do.

When Craig Robinson is not engaged in zombography, he photographs events, weddings and portraits in Prague, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany.  Contact the photographer today for a quote.