'I grew up in a small industrial district in communist Poland under the Soviet Union totalitarianism. I turned 7 years old when the fall of the Berlin Wall ended 40 years of the Cold War. In midst of this human misery, political hypocrisy, environmental industrial dirt, and ugliness, I became particularly sensitive to all signs of beauty and transcendence.'
Arek Rataj (b. 1983) is a Qatar-based Polish photographer, educator and journalist regularly contributing to APF Magazine and 121 Clicks. He briefly studied sociology. Attended The Poznan School of Social Sciences in Poland and earned his Master's Degree in Journalism and Social Communication. From 2011 to 2016, he has been teaching the Polish language in England's Peterborough, a wide range of English classes, as a volunteer, in Honduras's San Pedro Sula and Villanueva, and conversational English to large classes in China's Shijiazhuang.
He was born in Poland's Upper Silesian Industrial Region to compassionate and devoted parents who, then, ran a small variety store. His hometown, Chorzow, hosted a steel factory, coal mines, and chemistry factory and was dirty, ecologically devastated, and with a lot of socioeconomic issues. Despite the fact that gradually democratic changes came into play, among young people like him there was a lot of hopelessness and even despair. It is his belief that these circumstances are a key for his later vocation to become a photographer.
2017 — International
• The National Award winner and the finalist of Sony World Photography Awards in 'Open' category (UK)
• Finalist of 14th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest in 'People' category (USA)
• Finalist of The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) in 'B&W' category (Dubai, UAE)
• Finalist of Miami Street Photography Festival 2017 in "Single image" category (USA).
• Finalist of The Independent Photographer in 'Street Photography' theme competition (UK)
• Finalist (Top 20) of CEWE European Photography Competition 'Our World Is Beautiful' in 'People' category (Germany)
• Finalist of Ariano International Film Festival Photo Contest in 'Portfolio' category (Italy)
• Finalist of 3rd CEPIC Stock Photography Awards (Germany)
• The second award recipient of Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Photography Contest in 'Portrait' category (USA)
• Shortlisted at London Photo Festival in 'Street photography' category (UK)
• Honorable Mention in Monochrome Awards - Black&White International Photography Contest in 'People' category (UK)
2016 — International
• The Juror's Pick Award recipient in Lens Culture Street Photography Awards in 'Single image' category (USA)
• Finalist of Street Visions – Street Photography Exhibition – part of Photo Romania Festival (Romania)
• Winner of International Photography Contest Shoot The Frame/Shoot The Face in 'Portrait' category (International)
• Honorable Mention ('Bronze medal') at International Festival of Photography Brasilia Photo Show (Brazil)
• Honorable Mention in the 1st Tokyo International Foto Awards in 'Portrait' category (Japan)
2016 — National
• Nominated in Poland's National Geographic Photo Contest in 'People' category
• Winner of the 6th Leica Street Photo Contest ran by Leica Camera Poland
• One of the laureates of DEBUTS, Poland's first complex program whose aim is to promote the most talented, emerging Polish photographers
• Winner of photography competition ran by commercial chain EMPIK. In 'Portrait' category
• Winner of the HumanDoc Proclub Camera Photo Contest in 'Travel' category
• The second award recipient of photography competition about China ran by The Confucius Institute at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow
• Winner of 'Become an inspiration' mini contest ran by the biggest educational photography platform Szeroki Kadr, powered by Nikon
2014 — National
• The first award recipient of Na Szage Festival for a non-fiction story from Honduras, Central America
If you wish to express your opinion about Arek's body of work, collaborate in any shape or form, purchase his prints or assign a task of documentary matter — you are welcome to contact him through here: mobile no.: +974 5025451 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also give valuable feedback by filling up the form.