Young photographers learn new skills and build cross-border relationships.
By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 05/07/13
Participants assist one another during a photo session at the Fotosofia 8 seminar. [Mladen Dragojlovic/SETimes]
Fifteen young photographers from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia recently participated in the Fotosofia 8 seminar, organised by Croatian photographer Damir Hoyka in Tuheljske Toplice, 50 kilometres from Zagreb.
For eight years, Hoyka organised the annual event for young photographers in order to improve their skills in art photography. He told SETimes that participants' nationalities are not important and that candidates were chosen to learn and improve their skills.
"The only condition for candidates is that they understand the language of the seminar, which is Croatian. Since this language is understandable for most of ex-Yugoslavia countries, everybody from them is welcome," said Hoyka, adding that the participants were chosen through an interview process.
The seminar was especially significant this year, as it was held just prior to Croatia's accession into the EU. With Union membership, Croatian photographers are anticipating more career opportunities on an international level.
"My creativity just exploded in this seminar in the best way. I think that it made some crucial changes in my view on art photography. Co-operation with other participants under Hoyka's leadership is the best way for me to learn something new and it showed me how hard it is to work under short deadlines," Mladen Cukor, a photographer from Sisak, told SETimes.
Cukor works as an electronics technician, but photography is a great part of his life. His wife, Marina, is co-owner of the Siscia Obscura gallery, where Cukor exhibits his photos. He said that joining the EU will open borders to other countries and put him in a better position for his work.
"But, in same time, it will be harder to break in European photo art community because competition is bigger. It means more opportunity but a lot of harder work," Cukor said.
Vladimir Gajic, from Zaječar, Serbia, said Fotosofia 8 was a great experience for future work.
"The seminar helped me to find some feelings I didn't know before, or I was confused with them. It clarified to me what I want to do in the future," Gajic told SETimes.
Gajic said Croatian artists, even before its full membership in the EU, had a "pole position" in the region.
"Serbia is now on [its way to the EU], but it will be very difficult to make an international career. We can't expect the support from our government and it is necessary to have great self-confidence and be prepared to work alone, without help from state. That is the difference between Croatian, BiH and Serbian artists," Gajic said.
Maja Topcagic, a photographer from Sarajevo, made progress toward an international career, but came to Fotosofia 8 to meet other people and improve her skills. She said she sold several photos in Italy and other countries, mostly for book cover pages.
Topcagic told SETimes the seminar is an opportunity to link with photographers in the region.
"It is true that with Croatian membership in EU we will have different positions for work, but also it is true that good artists will be accepted in the Union. Art doesn't recognise borders, and if an artist reaches a high level of work, all doors will be open regardless where he is from," Topcagic said.
The seminar doesn't end when participants go home, as Hoyka continues to follow their work. Some of them will be invited to the next seminar to be his assistants and an exhibition of seminar participants' work will be presented in many EU countries.
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