Insights on the world of photography and working with young people

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Join Maja Stevanović through this interview to find out more about her work as a photographer, her insights on the world of photography and working with young people in the current industry.



Join Maja Stevanović through this interview to find out more about her work as a photographer, her insights on the world of photography and working with young people in the current industry.

1. Maja, tell us about your beginnings as a photographer. When did you first feel the draw of the camera and in which way?

I come from an artistic family and all my life I’ve been encouraged to pursue whatever helps me express myself creatively. I used to spend hours on Tumblr looking at portrait photography and eventually I developed a strong desire to try it out myself. I was especially drawn to fine art portraits and my head was full of concepts and ideas I wanted to translate into photos. So, right after I finished high school, my ever-supportive parents bought me my first camera and I spent the entire summer creating concepts, sceneries and characters and exploring my camera’s abilities. My first models were my best friends who were willing to pose for me, but after some time I got into the whole world of models, designers, make up artists, and the ball just kept rolling since then.

2. You specialize in artistic portraits of women. What are you celebrating in this way? How has this affected your models and followers over the years?

Women have this natural whimsicalness and a romantic vibe around them that simply radiates from photos, especially when paired with a few interesting outfits or props. Over the years I’ve worked with many incredible girls who helped bring my visions to life, and I hope my photos show that there’s so much more to them than just their beauty. I perceive my photography style as storytelling in a way, and I heavily rely on my model’s expressions and movements to embody a character and tell the story. I always come to the photoshoot with a prepared concept, but the model is always the one to give the final touch to the photo – a part of themselves and their own character. That’s also why I’m very picky about who I work with and also why I take much pride in the fact that models are relaxed when working with me and happy about the way I portray them.

3. You first started working with students that came through INCroatia Education programs three years ago. What was your experience of working with young people? Any surprises or challenges?

I remember I was preparing my first photography workshop for months and I was overthinking every detail. I have to say, I was very nervous. And rightfully so as it was a truly experience like no other for me. I decided to focus my workshop around fine art or storytelling portraits, and since this is such a specific niche, the biggest challenge for me was to make it at least a bit interesting for everyone. I designed the workshop not to be just about portrait photography, but rather about the process of creating something. No matter how prepared I thought I was, I learned very quickly is that kids are incredibly disarming and they see right through you 🙂 So, I just went with the flow and my overall experience with students was really positive. I was stunned with their creativity, curiosity and at the end of the day photography skills that they showed.

4. Tell us about the “behind the scenes” world of photography as a business. What are some biggest hurdles for a young photographer? Where do you see the industry going?

Well, the industry is really saturated, now more than ever. In the future, I see it as becoming only more competitive. Equipment and knowledge have never been more accessible and to be honest I’m actually fine with that. I hate the overwhelming exclusivity vibe radiating from certain photography circles that believe it shouldn’t be as accessible. It’s a pretty toxic environment, I tend to stay out of it. The hardest part, of course, is to actually start and to build a portfolio. It’s a process that doesn’t happen over night and unfortunately I feel like sometimes it’s not even about the quality of a photographer’s work. As with many other professions, it’s also about mingling, knowing the right people, doing the right favors and being at the right places. For me, photography is rewarding enough to accept the bad sides of the industry and at the end of the day I find that the positives definitely outweigh the negatives of the photography business.
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5. Which of your pictures are you the proudest of? What does it mean to you?

Some photoshoots are more complex than others, and sometimes a single photo is the final product of months of planning, designing, logistics and days of editing. I can say that shoots that involve a 10+ person team and last for 12 hours make me proud, but I’d be lying if I said they make me feel prouder than a photo that is a result of a 45min photoshoot with just me and one model. Also, obviously my photos today are better than my photos from 4 years ago, but I honestly feel equally proud of all stages of my photography journey. I think it shows dedication, commitment and work I invested and I really can’t make a distinction, I’m proud of everything that was once an idea in my head and now is a photograph, I’m proud of the process of growth.
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6. How do you manage to juggle photography with everything else you have going on in your life?

To be honest, photography is more of a need than an element to juggle in my life. Everyone finds the time for things they are passionate about, and I will always find the time for photography, it’s food for my soul. Outside of artistic portraits, I also take random pictures of literally everything that I experience on a daily basis. I’m infatuated with the idea of freezing a moment in time and looking at it one day – a memory captured and forever preserved by my camera, no matter how trivial the moment may seem. Some people write journals or diaries, I just take pictures of everything. It’s a lifestyle at this point.

7. Your advice to any young person thinking of going into photography.

I think the best approach is to just take the camera and experiment. Finding the segment of photography that fits you best and working on bettering yourself is the key for achieving success. And measure success not only by the number of publications of your work, or famous names you end up working with but rather by the joy the whole process brings you. If you're happy while doing photography, if it fulfils you – you've achieved success. Also, I think we get distracted by what other people are doing too often. It can be discouraging sometimes and constant comparisons with others can be really unhealthy especially when starting something new. We should be inspired by other's achievements but not let this derail us from our own path. So, to anyone interested in pursuing photography – focus on your own work and don't forget to enjoy the process


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