When I think about this topic, I can’t really say it was actually a start. It was more like something I always did ever since I got my first camera. I was second grade of elementary school and my dad got me this little video camera that had flip out screen. You know those 90’s cameras? It was really small and when I’d shoot the sun or something with harsh highlights, they would turn black, because the camera couldn’t take that much light in. I’d spend my Summers at Island of Krk with my grandma, mostly getting lost all the time and photographing everything, from people, little golf park near the beach, my grandma, cats from the neighbourhood. I loved it and I never left home without it.
In 7th grade of elementary school I had to move from my hometown to another city. I was feeling really homesick. Mostly because I had to quit my ballet classes and was separated from my life long friends. Every time I felt nostalgic, I’d look at old photos I had from that time, but it was never enough of them. Around that time, my parents got me a new phone. I remember it was a white Nokia phone with red buttons for playing music. I adored that phone. I remember climbing on top of an old abandoned building in Vinkovci with my friends, where we’d spend our Summer nights, just watching the sunset, playing the music, dancing and I would always be the one who took a bunch of photos everywhere we went. I always thought about the fact that one day, I’ll be old and senile and won’t remember everything like I did then, so I had to take photos to capture those moments forever. (I still have a lot of them on my old laptop and if you like, I can share them in one of my next blog posts.) One time, a friend and I went to a photo studio to develop some of our photos and I remember the photographer that worked there said I had great eye for composition and leading lines. It was about a photo I took with my phone; a sunset over the buildings in my neighbourhood taken from the rooftop of that abandoned building. I never really thought about composing the photo at that age, I saw something I like and I took the shot. And I can say, that’s how I shoot even now.
By the end of 8th grade of elementary school my parents got me a real digital camera. It was a small pink Canon. Every Christmas I’d hope to get an upgrade of my old camera or at least my phone, because it was something I couldn’t live without. I didn’t knew it was because I needed to take photos, I just had to have it with me all the time in case something happened and I’m there to record it. Memories were really important to me. I wanted to remember everything, ever since I was a kid. I can’t really say why. Maybe it’s because I had such beautiful childhood and loved every part of my life, I just wanted to remember it in details. That pink Canon went through heaven and hell with me. My parents always said that technology develops legs and runs away from me, meaning, I get so carried away sometimes with it, I break it at the end. That little Canon was my adventure companion and lasted from 8th grade of elementary school until 3rd grade of high school when one day we went out for Vinkovačke jeseni festival, got drunk and someone spilled wine all over the lens. It just didn’t want to open anymore. In those times I never saw photography like something I can do as a hobby. I still took photos because I wanted to keep my memories.
Around that time I discovered WeHeartIt and Tumblr. I can’t even begin explaining how many hours a day I’d spend just scrolling through beautiful photos of beautiful people at beautiful places. I was enchanted. I can say that was the time I started realizing how much I love photography and wanted to shoot beautiful photos like that myself. Since I only lived in Vinkovci for a couple of years and traveled to Osijek every day where I went to high school, I started discovering that some of the people from where I live actually do photography as a hobby. They would go for photo sessions, dressed up, did their hair and make up, always had their cameras with them, cameras that were much betterthan one I had back then- that poor pink Canon that didn’t work. So for my 17th birthday, I saved some money, went to Osijek with my dad and got myself a pink Nikon this time, because all of those girls I knew who did photography had Canons and I didn’t want to copy them or be like them. It didn’t have exchangeable lenses and it had little flash that popped out on top of the cameras right side. All of the photos I took with it had that cold vintage/polaroid tone to them, specially when I shoot with flash. It reminded me of photos from Tumblr so much and I loved it. Unfortunately, my Nikon lasted for only two months. Since I attended high school of applied arts, every year in May we had fashion shows as part of ”The art school day”. That year, two of the fashion shows were mine. I took my Nikon with me and left it in my bag in the wardrobe while I was out on stage with my models. Until this day I can’t really say what happened, but I suppose, some of my friends took it out, wanted to take some photos and left it on the floor while the lens was out. When I got back I found out that someone stepped on it. It just stopped working. I was devastated.
Around my 18th birthday next year my dad picked me up from school. We talked about how I once again want to save some money for my birthday and get myself a new camera because I can’t live without one. I said to him: ”I want a camera that’s small enough so I can carry it with me everywhere, but good enough to start taking real photos with it.” He just nodded his head while staying quiet. At the day of my 18th birthday, my mom woke me up and said they had something for me. When I went to the living room I found two wrapped boxes on the table. I opened the first one and I couldn’t quite realize what was the thing I’m actually looking at. The box said Triopo. I opened the box and found a flash inside. In that moment I started crying, because I knew what was in the other box. I tore the wrapper and saw my first DSLR- Canon 1100D. I couldn’t even explain the feeling I had in that moment. I felt like I’m finally invited to take part of life, capturing the moments with this gorgeous, REAL camera. My dad looked at me and said: ”That day when I picked you up and you said you want a small camera I was a bit disappointed and scared because while you were saying that, this one was in the back of my trunk. I bought it that day, that’s why I was at Osijek in the first place.” I started screaming that I don’t care and that it’s perfect and I love it so much. I immediately went to my room and took thousand photos of everything I could find, including photos of myself in the mirror.
The years went on and I didn’t shoot that much to be honest. My new Canon collected dust on the shelve. I was scared I’d break it if I took it out with me all the time, because it had exchangeable lenses and was more fragile than those little cameras I’d drop from time to time. I was scared people will think I’m copying the girls from my home town that were in the photography game much longer than me. I didn’t wanna look like an amateur, even though I was, and I didn’t wanna be the person that copies someone else, even though that ment I wouldn’t take photos like I used to. Then I started hanging out with Luana (blonde girl from my group advanced selfies from one of the recent blog posts). We took photos all the time. Some of them are so embarrassing when I think about them now, but we never cared. It was so much fun.
A lot of things happened from high school years until I started college, but my Canon was always with me. I wanted to study design and photography at Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, but I didn’t get in. I’ll never forget the comment from one of the professors at entrance exam when he saw a polaroid wall I made in 50x70cm dimensions. He said that it was like someone applied Instagram filters on the photos. Of course that wasn’t the case. I took over 30 random photos I really loved, framed them like polaroids and overlayed light leaks I made myself in PhotoScape and Picmonkey (because I didn’t knew how to work in Photoshop then). When I realized I didn’t get in I was devastated. For a year I didn’t do absolutely anything but drank. I know it’s not one of my proudest periods in life, but when someone in the field of art practically says you’re a shit creator, specially in those fragile teenage years, in a new town, you start believing your shit and close off to the world. I started studying art history and philosophy which was okay since it’s close to what I did my whole life, but something inside kept bugging me. I couldn’t make peace with the fact that for 5 years to come, all I’m gonna do is attend classes and spend countless hours just sitting and studying. I wanted to make things. I made things ever since I was a kid, and 4 years of designing clothes, painting, making sculptures, photographing, carried me in the direction of producing. I had to do something with my hands, something I can physically touch or at least see and not just learn countless of useless information. At second year of college I opened up this blog. On Christmas day will be my 4th anniversary of writing, shooting and posting.
When I first started blogging, I’d always torture my mom and my friends to take photos of me, because I was a graduated fashion designer and loved showing my outfits. That lasted for a year and a half, because I never felt comfortable in front of the camera. (You can read more about that topic in this blog post). In between blog posts that showed off my outfits, I’d publish photo diaries from my travels. I always loved to travel and since my mom has her home craft ”Kich Sapunich”, she’d always take me to festivals where she exhibited her products. So once again in my life, I’d get lost in some new places, photographing everything, from people, buildings, seaside, cats, dogs and the birds. In the Summer of 2016. I started with 365 photography project- shooting one photo a day for a year. I wanted to get into photography more, because fashion blogging just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’d spend my nights researching about photography, reading articles, pinning, watching YouTube videos and then the next day going out to shoot. One night that Summer I was out with my friend. I got drunk and went to the public restroom. There were a lot of people there and while I waited I saw a girl who just took my breath away. She was tall, skinny, with short white hair, full red lips and beautiful big eyes. I looked at her and said ”I wanna take your photos.” Fortunately she didn’t saw me as a creepy drunk girl, but instead said ”I’d love to. My name is Bruna.” Couple of days later we met for a cup of coffee and arranged the details. I said she can wear anything she wants, behave whatever she likes, not pay attention to me at all, just walk and talk while I’m taking her photos. That day, when I was on my way home, my heart pounded so hard. I ran up the stairs, exported my photos, made myself an iced coffee and edited them for hours. I published one photo on Instagram and announced the series ”Chasers of the light” in which I’d shoot other people for a change. The response was great and it gave me a positive boost towards shooting more. Couple of weeks later I met Maja Milocanovich over Instagram. She fell in love with my photos and invited me to come to Pula for three days and take her photos. I was really honored. I never thought someone would like if I’d took their photos. We spent the most amazing three days together and took over 2000 photos. I remember her saying that nobody could capture that essence of her like I did. In that time I knew I was a photographer.
Since that time I upgraded from Canon 1100D to Canon 60D and in January next year will be the 1st anniversary with my favorite boy- Canon 5D Mark IV. My computer holds over 2 TB of photos, and my Lightroom catalogue over 50 thousand of them. I can’t exactly say which was the exact moment in which I knew I wanted to do photography as a job and forever. Just like I can’t say when this love actually started. It was just there, ever since I was born I think. There were a lot of things that made me believe I wasn’t the right fit for the job. I didn’t understand how cameras work, I didn’t see myself as that creative, so creative that one day I will pop out from the crowd of thousands and thousands of people with cameras, doing photography as a job and as a hobby. I didn’t believe I was good enough to take photos in the first place, but I loved it so much, I loved it with everything I had and I do until this day. It’s my favorite thing in the world. And even though I’m working as a photographer, I don’t see it as my job. It’s always an adventure for me, no matter what I shoot. And I shoot every day. Literally every day.
I’ll never forget one time I sat at my window and mourned about how I’m never gonna be a good photographer because so many people are ahead of me in every way, and then stumbled across a lecture from Alan Watts. A beautiful soul he was. He said that if you devote your time and effort to anything in this world, any craft you want to learn, you’re gonna master it at some point. And in that moment I remembered the first thing they thought us in art school ”Talent is 5%, everything else is hard work.” and there’s nothing more true and powerful than that. I’m never satisfied with how much I know about photography and how I create. I love the photos I create, I really do and that may sound a bit egoistic, but I believe that if you’re not in love with what you’ve produced, what’s the point? And beyond that, how do you expect other people to fall in love with what you created if you don’t love it yourself? And other people do play a small role here, because I believe that if you’re a creator, and an artist, you have an obligation to shake the world, to make it a better place, to make other people feel a little better, encourage them to go out and become creators themselves, because this consumer world needs us. It needs creators. And I can’t really say where I find my inspiration specifically. It’s a strange process. I’m a hypersensitive creature and everything leaves mark on me. A song, a word, an artwork, a philosophical idea, a feeling, a problem. I come in contact with it and I see visuals in my head. I allow the world to fill me in with everything it has. Sometimes it breaks me, sometimes it builds me, but always inspires me to work and produce something. I create what I’d love to see but it hasn’t been created yet. I create a feeling or a problem that’s bugging me and I need to resolve it. I create in colors and tones I carry inside my soul. I express what I am and with everything I create I want to encourage other to go and create themselves. To be themselves, unapologetically. And beyond that I always carry an idea inside myself that one day, I’ll be old and senile and won’t remember everything like I do now, so I want to keep my memories forever. Thank you for staying until the end. I love you to bits. S.
P.S. Here are some of my favorite photos I took with my old Canons 1100D and 60D, in no particular order (there are a lot more photos on the other hard drive which is currently on data extraction. These are just ones I have access to at the moment.)