“Touring inside other people’s realities around the world made me appreciate also the everyday reality of my own existence. The extraordinary can be found everywhere, at the end of the world and in your living room.”
Ognjen Prnjat (born in 1973 in Belgrade) is a photographer currently based in Athens, Greece. He learned photography from his father who taught technology of film and electronic picture at the Faculty of Drama, University of Belgrade. For Ognjen Prnjat photography is “a search for a more otherworldly, mystical reality which is hidden in the everyday”.
“Look closer, the everyday magic world is nearer than you think!”
Interview with Ognjen Prnjat
Ognjen, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
My engagement started with street photography: fascination with the small surreal moments I have encountered on my travels; and my interest in the human condition. This evolved into a search for more otherworldly, mystical reality which is hidden in the everyday.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content? In other words: How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
For me, framing is everything. I rarely crop any photos, and strict approach to framing forces me to contemplate the situations, composition, and atmosphere. On the other hand, working in the street entails quick reactions and thus again intuitive framing on the spot is a must. This is the strongest link between form and content.
Limited time I spend at locations forces me not to be picky about the light.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
I want to invite people to look deeper into their everyday lives and surroundings, and find the otherworldly hidden in the mundane.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I am very much inspired by painting, and I have to say that in terms of composition and atmosphere Magritte is my biggest influence. In the photography world, it would have to be Henri Cartier-Bresson for composition and Abbas for the (later period) subject matter.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
Canon EOS5D currently, 24-105 lens for the day, 50mm for the night.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What book about photography would you recommend?
Abbas “Sur La Route des Esprits”, for the mystic dimension; “Divided Soul” David Alan Harvey for a journey inside the Latin American spirit with a surreal twist. And of course Susan Sontag’s seminal essays about photography.
Philosopher Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
Indeed, touring inside other people’s realities around the world made me appreciate also the everyday reality of my own existence. The extraordinary can be found everywhere, at the end of the world and in your living room.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
“My exhibition in Athens made me think about my work as whole.”
A visit to Morocco with its sharp lights and shadows opened the possibilities, and Iran sealed it in terms of the potentials of the environment. My exhibition in Athens made me think about my work as whole.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Don’t think about your camera, technique and photoshop. Go out. Watch. Observe. Think and feel your environment. And you will discover more than meets the eye.