Photographer Loses All Gear and Work to Apartment Fire

A Slovak photographer is appealing for help to get back on his feet after a devastating apartment fire wiped out his studio, camera equipment, and 25 years’ worth of photography.

Slovakia-based photographer Martin Machaj has shared a series of photographs (spotted by Resumo Fotográfico) showing the charred remains of gear, workplace, and living space this week after a short circuit in an overheated power adapter caused his home to go up in flames.

“One day life gives you, and the other day takes all back,” Machaj writes. “Almost everything is gone, the apartment, the studio, all the cameras, computers, all the equipment, hard drives with archives for 25 years, personal things.”

A view of the apartment space after the devastating fire.

The work-related equipment Machaj lost included pricey medium format digital cameras, Phase One digital backs, Canon DSLRs, a large number of lenses, laptops, studio equipment, and hard drives containing 25 years of data and work since Machaj started his career in Paris back in 1995.

The charred remains of a medium format digital camera.

“[M]y favorite Mamiya was with me for years side-by-side by almost all my major projects,” Machaj says.

“The pandemic has not made my life easier for the last 2 years,” the photographer writes. “[N]evertheless I continued my projects as best I could, this difficult situation open many questions as to why some things happen. How the pain and sadness moves you forward.

“I believe in the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe that it will perhaps make me even stronger and in time I will get on my feet back again and I will keep the desire to create and will find new energy for new projects.”

Despite losing his life’s work in photography up to this point, Machaj is thankful that no one was hurt or killed in the blaze.

“It’s just a miracle that I didn’t sleep in the apartment during the fire, neither I, nor the dog, nor the cat, nor anyone,” he writes. “[M]aybe I would suffocate and get burned, and everyone. Nothing happened to anyone, I was not the first or last to burn out due to an overheated adapter and a short circuit in the [plug].

“I take it as luck in misfortune, and looking forward to life, with humility, to new challenges.”

Photographer Martin Machaj.

Machaj has started a crowdfunding campaign to collect donations from anyone willing to help him reboot his photography career from the ground up.

Earlier this year, a house fire also destroyed the equipment and 70-year photo archive of famous Venezuelan explorer and photographer Charles Brewer-Carías.

These painful incidents are eye-opening reminders that photographers should consider both insuring their expensive equipment as well as making sure all data is backed up in more than one location.

Image credits: Photographs by Martin Machaj