Jan Stria

A sachatamia albomaculata frog perched on an unfurled fern frond, taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Jan Stria.

Sachatamia albomaculata is a species of frog found in Costa Rica, where Canon Ambassador Jan Stria has photographed many amphibians. "Smaller animals, such as frogs, are easier to photograph because they don't run away too fast or too far. But you do need to know where to find them," says Jan. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/4 and ISO 1600. © Jan Stria

When Canon Ambassador Jan Stria moved to Ireland for work as an IT professional, little did he know he would fall in love with photography. "The country was so amazing, it was like looking at art," he says. He bought his first camera shortly after his arrival, a Canon EOS 550D.

Jan grew up close to the mountains in northeast Bohemia in the Czech Republic, and although he now lives in Prague, he often returns home to visit his parents. He studied automation technology and then IT and management at university, but when it comes to photography, he is mostly self-taught. After moving to Ireland he instantly fell in love with the landscape and began to consider the endless possibilities offered by photography. "At the end of 2012, after five years in Ireland, I returned home to the Czech Republic and started to focus more seriously on photography," he recalls. "At that time, I didn't have any friends who were photographers, so I attended a few workshops and met like-minded, passionate people and started going on photography trips with them.

"I've always liked playing with camera settings, I still do. I had the EOS 550D for a long time and I even won some competitions with it. People were surprised that I was using such an old and basic camera. But I always told them that I liked overcoming obstacles."

The Canon EOS 80D (now succeeded by the EOS 90D) was the second camera Jan bought and he still considers it to be a favourite. He has since worked closely with Canon, becoming one of the first photographers to try the Canon EOS R5, EOS R6 and the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8L IS USM lens.

A headshot of Canon Ambassador Jan Stria.
Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Specialist areas: Wildlife, Landscape, Nature

Favourite kit:
Canon EOS 80D
Canon EOS R5
A strawberry poison-dart frog emerges through a hole in a crinkled brown leaf, its bright blue legs in stark contrast to its red body. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Jan Stria.

Looks can be deceiving, so don't be fooled by this strawberry poison-dart frog. "I took this photo in Costa Rica," says Jan. "This is a cute looking yet very poisonous little frog widely found across Central America. There are up to 30 colour variations, and this one is called 'blue jeans'." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/5 and ISO 500. © Jan Stria

Jan seeks to capture easy-to-miss moments in nature – landscapes, wildlife and flora. He has always been captivated by nature and he considers photographing natural beauty to be his true love. It's this passion that has taken him all over the world.

No stranger to hidden worlds that can only be captured through a macro lens, Jan loves photographing all creatures big and small, as well as flowers and mushrooms, and he is always on the lookout for a photographic opportunity. "I carry multiple lenses," he says. "Even if I'm going out to photograph a landscape, I will still carry a macro lens because if the weather isn't right, you could find a tiny landscape within a flower."

An underwater photograph by Jan Stria of a bluespotted ribbontail ray taken with a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

Learning to freedive has enabled Jan to explore the ocean's depths and photograph the creatures he finds there, such as this colourful stingray. Taken on a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II at 1/640 sec, f/8 and ISO 500. © Jan Stria

With freediving skills that take him into the deep unknown, Jan's photography is not limited to terrestrial creatures. He has captured sea turtles and cuttlefish but photographing them underwater is no mean feat. Freediving – descending on a single breath – requires a lot of training, but Jan loves it so much that he wanted to combine it with his photography. "You are limited by your breath but you're also at an advantage as you don't disturb the animals with the bubbles you exhale when scuba diving, for example," he explains.

Jan's underwater photo of a bluespotted ribbontail ray hunting in Egypt's Red Sea was named Photo of the Year by Czech Nature Photo in 2019, and exploring the ocean's depths has also rewarded him with some memorable moments. "I was freediving in Egypt when my group encountered dolphins," he recalls. "Our trainer told us to just go crazy and do some pirouettes, because dolphins are playful and curious. It paid off – it was just us surrounded by 20 dolphins. It was a life-changing experience."

What drives Jan is the fact that no two animals are alike, and that he is always learning. "I photograph animals because I always learn something new," he says. "If you want to capture an animal in the wild, you need to learn about it – where it lives, its temperament, and the best season and time to photograph it.

"Wildlife photography has taught me so much. I want to share that with others and teach people to care about our planet. We are one with the planet, and through my work, I hope to show people that."

How does your kit choice impact your photos?

"I don't believe you need to have the latest camera to be a good photographer. I have taken some beautiful photos with my EOS 550D and my EOS 80D and they've won awards. It's not all about the gear. It's a cliché but I think it's about being in the right place at the right time. You could have the most expensive camera sitting on your table but if you aren't out in the field with it, what good does it do?"

Have you ever been in danger while photographing an animal?

"I was photographing frogs in Costa Rica and didn't realise one was poisonous. I was with a guide, who knew what to do, but it can be quite dangerous to go to the rainforest alone. You never know what you will find: poisonous frogs, snakes or even pumas."

What has been your proudest career moment so far?

"Becoming a Canon Ambassador. I almost cried when I received my contract because the first paragraph said I was chosen by Canon's highest standards. I was at a loss for words. I still haven't fully comprehended it."

Apart from wildlife, what else do you like to photograph?

"Besides landscapes and wildlife, I love photographing flowers but I'm trying to develop my skills in other genres too. I'm from the home of the 300 Curves of Gustav Havel motorbike race, so I always get a VIP pass for that, which enables me to get some interesting shots. I would also love to venture into the world of F1 photography."

If you could photograph just one animal for the rest of your life, which would it be?

"The red-eyed tree frog, the most common frog in Costa Rica. I think they're amazing. I can even imagine having one as a pet."

One thing I know

Jan Stria

"Patience is the most important thing. You could have the best and latest kit but if you lack patience, you're never going to get the desired shot. There was this dream shot I wanted to get from the top of a mountain, but I had to go six or seven times for everything to be perfect. With animals, you need to be patient and quiet. There have been times when I've come so close to giving up and the very next second, the moment has come, and I've got the shot."

Facebook: jan.stria

Instagram: @jan.stria

Website: www.janstria.eu

Jan Stria's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Jan Stria's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS 80D

Now succeeded by the EOS 90D, this is still one of Jan's favourite cameras. "The small sensor has the advantage of a 1.6x crop ratio, which multiplies the reach of any lens," says Jan. "There are some limitations, but I think I have found a way around them. After all, it's not all about the camera!"


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

With an Image Stabilizer with angle and shift detection, this lens is highly effective at close focusing distances. "This is an amazing lens," says Jan. "Just the right focal length for any macro lens with brilliant sharpness and contrast, and I can still use macro reducers and adapters without losing focus or image quality."

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

A professional grade L-series zoom that's compact for travel and ideal for action, wildlife, and sports. "It's an old but still great lens that works perfectly with the latest mirrorless cameras," says Jan. "It is very versatile with a good focal length range in a small package."

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

An affordable, high-quality lens that's perfect for creative portraits and low-light photos. Blur backgrounds to make your subject stand out and enjoy smooth near-silent STM focusing when shooting movies. "Affordable and lightweight, this lens produces some really nice portraits and even macros," says Jan.


Canon Speedlite 430EX II

A powerful and versatile flash, the Speedlite 430EX II will expand your shooting options. "The Canon Speedlite 430EX II is perfect for my needs in product, nature and portrait photography," says Jan. "It is powered by four AA batteries which are available almost anywhere when more power is needed."

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