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A trip to Prague

Riverdale High senior Matous Komers offers a photographic window into the capital of the Czech Republic

SUBMITTED PHOTO: MATOUS KOMERS - The Prague astronomical clock is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the only such clock left that still functions.Ever been to Prague?

If you’d like to go, Matous Komers can take you right to the capital of the Czech Republic. The 16-year-old Riverdale High School senior has spent many years in that country, which is where his family is from.

This past summer, Komers created a photo gallery with detailed descriptions of sights he loves in Prague, posting the final product on exposure.co. The photo gallery could serve as a virtual tour, featuring the oldest functioning astronomical clock, ancient castles, statues, cobblestones, traditional foods and drinks and urban sights such as subway rails.

Matous KomersBorn in Portland, Komers and his family returned to Prague when he was 2; his parents are physicians, and they were pursuing career and academic opportunities. They returned to the United States when Komers was 8, but they visit Prague every summer, spending about two months there visiting relatives.

While exploring the city, Komers took his camera along with him. After a while, a photo series began to emerge.

“I just thought of doing it on my own,” Komers says. “I kind of did it privately before, but then I thought it would be good to publish it and share it. I wanted to spread it more around Portland, and so I started at the school with the school newsletter.”

Riverdale art teacher David Schell, whose own work was featured earlier this year at a Portland Community College-Sylvania campus gallery, is helping Komers find coffee shops and galleries in the Portland metro area to display the youth’s work, in addition to showcasing his talents in the school halls.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: MATOUS KOMERS - Matous Komers can describes this structure: Vysehrad, translated to upper castle, is a fort located at the south of Prague on a hill above the Vltava River.Schell has had Komers in three art classes, though not in photography. Komers took paint studio, pop art and an introduction to the arts for ninth-graders. Schell says Komers is a pleasure to have in class.

“He’s very focused,” he says. “He’s very concerned about the quality of his work.”

He’s also a natural photographer, Schell adds. It impressed him that Komers took the initiative to start his own summer project. He used concepts of composition, color or proportion that a student might discover in a difficult camera-centric course.

“He seems like he’s synthesizing a lot that is definitely that higher-level thinking when he is putting together this or that and thinking how they connect or thinking about how they work,” Schell says.

Schell also liked seeing Komers’ unique take on the country he’s so deeply tied to. Using the family camera, the teen just experimented and came out with something beautiful.

“I don’t know that many photographers; I just try what looks good, and then I took a lot of photos and looked at them on the computer,” he says.

He mostly kept them as he’d shot them, though he did alter contrast or brightness in some cases. He tried to capture symmetry in his imagery.

His father, Radko Komers, says he thinks the project is great.

“It’s a mixture of facts and his impressions,” Radko Komers says.

He says his son is a talented student who comes from a family of academically successful professors. He’s still learning even when he’s in Prague, not only visiting his grandparents but also going to camp to delve into the culture.

The Czech Republic is a developed country that previously was a part of the Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia. In 1993, it peacefully split into independent states — Komers’ country and its current neighbor, Slovakia. The Czech Republic is also bordered by Germany, Austria and Poland. The people in the Czech Republic speak Czech, which is in the same language family as Russian.

Matous Komers didn’t know that his pictures of another nation would generate so much excitement at Riverdale High.

“I kind of like it,” he says. “It’s not that I meant it for that. I just didn’t expect it.”

By Jillian Daley
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View Matous Komers’ photos of Prague at matouskomers.exposure.co.