January 7, 2015

Interview: Nina Zivkovic

Defining what we do for a living can be a challenge. Painter, photographer, graphic and web designer Nina Zivkovic has settled on “visual artist” — a title that aptly reflects the interdisciplinary nature of her work. Shooting almost exclusively with film, her authentic and often gritty images continue astound and inspire us, pushing the boundaries and expectations of stock photography. We caught up with Nina to talk of influences, her new jewellery line and why she shoots for Stocksy!

// What was your path to becoming a professional photographer?

Despite taking photos for years and never going anywhere without a camera in my bag, I never considered myself a professional photographer. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been doing several things at the same time, all that had the same importance. Therefore, I couldn’t really commit to just one — like being just a designer or a painter. Or a photographer.

When I applied to Stocksy and saw that the response was great, I realized that it was definitely time to show my work and do something better with it. When I started earning money, this “game” that I played with my cameras and that I enjoyed so much got to the next level.

// What has been the greatest influence in your work?

I think it was in 2009, when a couple of very close friends and I got hooked on the analog photography process, experimenting with different cameras and film rolls. We were influencing each other very much, but also developing our own styles. It was really a great period that pushed each of us forward and opened different doors in our careers. Now, some of us are still taking photos and some aren’t, but we’ll be connected forever.

// What creative projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on the print materials for a movie that a friend of mine directed, called “The Ocean”. It just got accepted to a couple of european film festivals and I hope it will reach a lot of people and be really successful. It’s a great pleasure to be a part of that team.

// What are you currently excited about?

Just recently I’ve started a small handmade jewelry brand with a friend called “JUN”. It means July in Serbian. We named it JUN because we wish it was summer all the time.

We are spending almost all of our free time making bracelets and necklaces, and it’s just so much fun! You can check out our Instagramand see if you’ll like it.

// Can you describe your approach to post production and what kind of role it plays in creating a final image?

I’ve always been working only with analog cameras, and would never retouch the photos. Sometimes, the quality depends of the developing and scanning process, but I’ve learned after some time to recognize those small changes and to adjust them as they should be. But nothing more.

For me, the moment when I take the picture is special and unique in so many ways, and I always choose it very carefully. It’s moment —the place and time — that I want to keep.

I rarely repeat the shot and then I wait until I develop the roll, so it can be a long process sometimes. And when I get the result, I never want to touch it, because then it wouldn’t be that special moment caught anymore.

When I made my Instagram profile, where I upload only mobile photos, I’ve started playing with filters and I have to admit, for me It’s like a game. I enjoy it, but in a completely different way.

I understand that post production is playing a great role in digital world, but I believe I’ll never be a part of it. Although it’s sometimes easier, the result I get is completely different and I think all it’s worth all the complications. I think that film roll catches not only the moments in time in but also the emotions behind them.

// What camera(s) are you typically shooting with? Can we peek into your camera bag?

You might be surprised, because at the moment there are only three cameras I’m using. Olympus MJUii, Contax T2 and Olympus OM2. During the last couple of years I tried many small point and shoot cameras, but it was just experimental and I was always coming back to MJU. Sometimes it feels so good when you don’t have to think too much; it’s a matter of seconds taking the camera out of your bag and then, flash!

Contax and the other Olympus came later and now don’t think I need anything more. I have my perfect combination.

When it comes to film rolls, lately I mostly shoot with Kodak Ektar or Kodak Portra.

// Why Stocksy?

When I first saw Stocksy I felt I could somehow fit in. I liked the style of the photos and that they looked different. Most of the stock photography I saw before was really bad, boring and somehow the same. I really liked the whole concept around Stocksy and that it’s like a small community — that is growing fast. I’d never tried selling my photos on other stock websites, so I gave it a try and it turned out great!

// We asked Nina to round up some of her favourites:

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