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Through the lens

Zvonimir Kušec was born on September 4, 1965. He still fell in love with photography as an elementary school student, so he enrolled in high school photography in Zagreb. In addition to theoretical teaching through working in the practical, he met photographer Mijo Vesovic, who introduced him to the world of fashion photography, which he still does today.

He is especially attracted to fashion photography. Today he works at Art Studio, where he and Robert Balashko apply a kind of fashion photography to weddings.

Can you tell us how you got started?

I was never interested in that classic photography, working in a classic photo studio, taking pictures of people for personal use and developing pictures. In practice at school, in one such studio of Fotokemika, I met Mia Vesovic and I had the first real touch with photography as his assistant in shooting a book for one model. Later, I went with him to shoots, various fashion events and model shoots. So I developed a special interest in fashion photography, which I still do today.

How much did you learn about photography in school?

I learned the theory but did not learn expression. I worked on myself, going to special seminars and courses. I looked at the works of other photographers, started with, copying their works. Afterwards I tried it myself and tried to get out of those boundaries.

Do you take photos for magazines, do you have complete freedom then or are there restrictions?

It depends what I do. When I worked for Exclusive magazine where I was the editor of photography, we did interviews with famous models and public figures. There is always a default theme, but I have a choice of shooting location and many other things. So for an interview with Monika Kravic, I took photos at the marshalling yard.

I find it more interesting to shoot a person in a space than in a studio like in these photos. Our lovely Monika Kravic was in a hurry to her belly dances and insisted that we only record in the studio because of the very little time we had to record.

It is different with ordered fashion photos (fashion editorial).

These are the photos that are used to present the new clothing collection. Then there is a team of several people, from stylists, makeup artists, etc. Such recordings require teamwork, they take days and it is a series of photographs. They are agreed and planned.

Does it matter for a photographer to establish a relationship with the people they shoot and how do you achieve it?

I think that’s very important. There has to be a relationship with the model, communication. Before every shoot, I want to get to know the person I’m photographing, because that way she trusts me. Then the model feels relaxed and reveals to me her other face.

I took this photo of Ines Preindl in a very small space where I didn’t have too much choice, so I chose this glass background. To get the light effect, I added light behind the background.

How much is used in fashion photography to retouch and why?

It is much used because of the model and because of the photo itself. Everything can be done with technology, you can erase the dot from the face, tighten the face. But you can’t make a bad photo a good one.

Do you plan each photo or just come and take it?

Good preparation is required for every photo. Even more so if it is an analog camera. I would like to add that a bunch of beautiful photos are created without great preparation, purely spontaneous, at the moment of inspiration.

What are the benefits of an analog camera?

The benefits of the film are seen in the colors and contrasts in the photo itself. You can see the heat in natural analog photography. But also film is more expensive and the development of photos is more expensive.

Do you prefer digital technology?

Technology yes. I don’t think digital photography without Photoshop is a photo, but again it should be used sparingly. Unlike analog, digital photography is plastic, with no sharpness like on film. I prefer to use both, depending on the recording and what I’m shooting.

Does each photo have its own story?

Of course there is and that is certainly part of the photo. I think it’s hard to explain. Whether it’s an old woman or some model. It does not matter. Behind every look, the expression on the face is a story. Sometimes it’s just a sentence, a joke, sometimes anger or rejoicing.

Everyone has a camera today, do you think anyone can use it?

Nowadays, cameras have become cheap and even digital and anyone can have them. Likewise anyone can use them. But people take photography lightly and shoot hundreds of photos. Everyone has to go through an analog camera, because it is difficult to shoot hundreds of pictures when you have a movie for about thirty photos. And then you realize that every photo has to be prepared and you have to know exactly what you want. Because still, film is expensive and developing is expensive. I remember having to sell an engine for my first camera in order to buy one. It was a Nikon F5.

Is photography a job or a part of your life today?

Part of life for sure. I travel everywhere with the camera, even on the engine.