An inter­view with

Jaroslav Poncar

Pos­i­tion & Affil­i­ation: Inde­pend­ent Pho­to­graph­er and Pro­fess­or of Phys­ics, Cologne Uni­ver­sity of Applied Science
Date: Novem­ber 20, 2018 in Cologne, Germany
Inter­viewed by: Anna Sehnalova

Cite this archive

Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. (2021, Decem­ber 2). An inter­view with Jaroslav Pon­car. Retrieved 15 June 2024, from
“An inter­view with Jaroslav Pon­car.” Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies, 2 Dec. 2021,
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. 2021. An inter­view with Jaroslav Pon­car. [online], Avail­able at: [Accessed 15 June 2024]
Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies. “An inter­view with Jaroslav Pon­car.” 2021, Decem­ber 2.

Dis­claim­er: The views and opin­ions expressed in this inter­view are those of the inter­viewee and do not neces­sar­ily rep­res­ent the offi­cial pos­i­tion of the Oral His­tory of Tibetan Stud­ies project.


Additional info

Jaroslav Pon­car born 1945 in Prague, has lived in Cologne since 1973 where was pro­fess­or at the depart­ment of ima­ging sci­ences of Fach­hoch­schule Köln (Cologne Uni­ver­sity of Applied Sci­ences). His pho­to­graph­ic pro­jects took him to Africa, Ara­bia and to Asia, espe­cially to the Him­alay­as, Tibet, India, Burma, Cam­bod­ia and Afgh­anistan. He retired in July 2010. His main field of pho­to­graphy is travel pho­to­graphy. Until 2005 he was co-dir­ect­or of Ger­man Apsara Con­ser­va­tion Pro­ject at Angkor Wat. After his retire­ment in July 2010 he was in Afgh­anistan on one year assign­ment as GIZ-CIM (Ger­man Inter­na­tion­al Cooper­a­tion) expert to pho­to­graph­icaly doc­u­ment the cul­tur­al her­it­age of the country.
In 1976 he took for the first time an pan­or­amic cam­era to the West­ern Him­alay­as — the antique Rus­si­an FT‑2 — and since that time he spe­cial­ized on pan­or­amic pho­to­graphy. After 40 years he exposed in Rome the last Ekta­chrome roll in Octo­ber 2016…
In October/November 2013 he had a two months schol­ar­ship in the Ger­man Academy Villa Massimo in Rome.

1945born in Prague and grown up in Lito­merice in North­ern Bohemia.
1962 — 1966Tech­nic­al Uni­ver­sity Prague, fac­ulty of tech­nic­al and nuc­le­ar physics.
1966 — 1971Stud­ies at RWTH Aachen (Tech­nic­al Uni­ver­sity Aachen). In 1971 PhD in the­or­et­ic­al phys­ics. After PhD gradu­ation work­ing as freel­ance pho­to­graph­er for dpa (Ger­man Press Agency) in Africa and Arabia.
1973 — 2010Pro­fess­or of optics at the Fach­hoch­schule Köln (Cologne Uni­ver­sity of Applied Sci­ences) in the depart­ment Pho­toin­genieur­wesen (ima­ging sci­ences and media tech­no­lo­gies) — until 2004. Presently at the insti­tute of applied optics and elec­tron­ics (AOE).
Spe­cial­ised in ´land-and-people-pho­to­­graphy´, since 1976 pan­or­amic pho­to­graphy. Divers pro­jects in doc­u­ment­a­tion of cul­tur­al rel­ics in the Him­alay­as, Tibet and Cam­bod­ia in col­lab­or­a­tion with museums, uni­ver­sit­ies and oth­er institutions.
1977 — 1987togeth­er with Wolfgang Kohl (cam­era­man and film pro­du­cer) doc­u­ment­ar­ies for the Ger­man TV in Yemen, Mali, India, Pakistan and Tibet.
1981 — 1994pho­to­graph­ic doc­u­ment­a­tion of the wall paint­ings in the temples of Alchi (col­lab­or­a­tion with Prof. Roger Goep­per, Museum of East Asi­an Art Cologne) and organ­isa­tion of the SAVE ALCHI PROJECT (con­ser­va­tion works in Alchi) with Prof. Karl Lud­wig Dass­er (Depart­ment of Res­tor­a­tion and Con­ser­va­tion of Cul­tur­al Rel­ics at the Fach­hoch­schule Köln
1984doc­u­ment­a­tion of the wall paint­ings in Tabo mon­as­tery, Spiti, West Him­alay­as (pub­lished in 1996 by Prof. Deborah Salt­er from the Uni­ver­sity of Vienna). In 2001 one more cam­paign in Tabo.
1993doc­u­ment­a­tion of the wall paint­ings in Tol­ing, Guge, West Tibet (invit­a­tion by Uni­ver­sity of Vienna, Insti­tute of Art His­tory, Prof. Dr.Klimburg-Salter)
1993par­ti­cip­a­tion in the Silk Road pro­ject of the Ger­man Research Coun­cil (Prof. Klimkeit, Uni­ver­sity Bonn), doc­u­ment­a­tion of the wall paint­ings in Tur­fan etc.
1993 — 2005pho­to­graph­ic work in Angkor, Cam­bod­ia. In 1995
doc­u­ment­a­tion of the bas-reliefs in Angkor Wat and the Bay­on with the slit-scan technique.
1996 — 1998pho­to­graph­ic work in Mus­tang (Nepal) for the Ger­man Research Cou­cil (Deutsche Forschungs­ge­meinsch­aft), pro­ject of Niels Gutschow (1996), a private jour­ney to Upper Mus­tang in 1997 and in 1998 pho­to­graph­ic work for the Amer­ic­an Him­alay­an Found­a­tion (doc­u­ment­a­tion of wall paint­ings in Thubchen and Chamba Lakhang in Lo Monthang). In 2010 last vis­it of Upper Mustang.
1996 — 2005co-dir­ect­or (dir­ect­or Prof. Dr. Hans Leis­en) of the Ger­man Apsara Con­ser­va­tion Pro­ject (GACP), respons­ible of pho­to­graph­ic doc­u­ment­a­tion of Angkor Wat.
2003until 2007 pho­to­graph­ic work in Burma.
2010In July retire­ment at the Cologne Uni­ver­sity of Applied Sci­ences. From Octo­ber 2010 for one year as GIZ-CIM (Ger­man Inter­na­tion­al Cooper­a­tion) expert in Afghanistan.
2010 — 2011Pho­to­graph­ic doc­u­ment­a­tion of cul­tur­al her­it­age in Afghanistan
2012Work for Foto­pe­dia on an app on Him­alay­as. Pub­lic­a­tion of books on Afgh­anistan and forty years of activ­it­ies in the Himalayas.
2013two months schol­ar­ship at Villa Massimo (Ger­man Academy) in Rome; pan­or­a­mas of Lazio
2015 — 2017Col­lab­or­a­tion with Chris­ti­an Luczan­its (SOAS Lon­don) on doc­u­ment­a­tion of reli­gious objects in Upper Mus­tang (Nepal)

For more stunning photos of Tibet by Jaroslav Poncar