Zlatko Vickovic: Black and White

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Talk to us about how you got into photography. 

To make a long story short: back in the days of analog photography I was a wedding photographer, and after a long break when I have built my career as traditional artist painter and graphic designer, once digital photography came to the scene, I felt in love with photography again. It came naturally. When I was youngster in school, and after that in wild teenage years, even if itwas someone else’s camera, it would always end up in my hands. I was always interested in mechanical and technical things, and how stuff works.Curiosity, I think that’s the key.

What made you want to get into black and white? 

Well…and I tend to repeat here what`s already said from other photographers… Black and white photography has many advantages. Color is hard. When you shoot in color, color become main subject of photo and often override all other elements. There are many elements that can make or break good photo, and out there on the streets, sometimes you have only second or less. So, color is just one more element you have to think about, and it`s less likely that all elements like shapes, light, subject, gesture, will come into place if you have color in the mix. If you want to shoot color, you have to first search for color that will work. And, on the other side, there are certain moods and feelings that can be transferred only with black and white images.
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How did you get into street photography?

I like photography in general, but street photography is my true love. I shot everything in the past…landscape, macro, portrait, weddings…but I find that only street photography makes me feel alive and does not bore me. And it`s most democratic off all photography genres. You don`t need expensive studio, traveling to exotic places, or expensive gear. You can shoot with almost any camera and make great photos. It`s not about sharpness of the lens, or photoshopping landscape to death. It`s all about personal vision, unique moment, and emotion. 

What makes you think of your work as surreal? 

I`m not interesting to make photos that are exact snapshots of reality we look at. Photographer is always subjective, even the beginner, in terms that he decide what to put in, or leave out of frame. I`m interested in making photos that has some underlying meaning, to create look and feel that ask questions, not just show what it is. And we are living in surreal world, it`s just that we are so overwhelmed with everyday life that we don`t see it. If you stop and just try to look at the world, interconnections of people, their gestures, light, shadows, buildings, strange man-made objects, the more you look at it, the more it looks surreal. So I just try to see this aspect (or dimension if you like) of life as much as I can, and record it with my camera.

The way that you look at contrast and shapes in a scene is quite interesting. Where did you pick this up from? 

I think it comes from the years in traditional art, painting and design. I first look at the large main blocks of the photo, and try to work with that. If photo don`t work on thumbnail size, it will not work when you enlarge it, either. So, establishing large, basic construction of the frame is crucial. And details will take care of themselves.
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What makes you choose the specific scenes that you do? 

Very often it`s just instinct, feeling… somehow I come across some corner of reality and I know there can be good image there. I just have to stop, emerge myself in scene, or wait something to happen. And of course, there is question of light. I`m always searching for beautifull light, because, as great Trent Park once said “Lights turns the ordinary into the magical.”

Why is black and white important to you and the art world? 

We are always standing on the shoulders of great photographers of the past. So, by keeping tradition of black & white photography we pay homage to old masters like Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Brassai, just to name the few. And somehow we become part of that great stream. On the other hand, black & white photography will instantly stand out from massive amount of everyday snapshots, often taken without any thoughts and intention. Last but not the least black & white is the core of photography, essence and soul of it. And we don’t want to lose, especially in this troubled times we live, soul of something we love above all.