She has been taking photos all her life and whilst it started out just as a hobby, it became much more over the years. Meet Marija Strajnic, a talented photographer from Belgrade who decided to step out of her comfort zone and move to Brussels to start a PhD in architecture and find inspiration in the unknown and unpredictable. In this interview, Marija talks about the connection between architecture and photography and reveals why she enjoys shooting on film.
Hi Marija! What interesting stuff are you shooting these days?
Hello! Thanks for having me. These days I am working on a small photographic investigation of transparency. I’ve been sneaking around red light district in Brussels and capturing what ever I can get away with without causing any problems, since it is forbidden.
You were born and raised in Belgrade, but you are currently living in Brussels. How is your experience living in a foreign country? What is the biggest change for you so far?
I came to Belgium as a part of ADAPT-r programme and also to start a PhD in architecture. Let’s say this is a 4 month experiment for me. I came here alone, I didn’t know anyone and I was curious to see how will life unfold, because I am usually surrounded with many people. So this is currently the loneliest period of my life, which is exciting in a way. I will risk sounding cheesy, but I am learning a lot about myself these few months.
How old were you when you started taking photos? How much your personal photographic style has changed from the moment you made your first photo?
I’ve been taking photos my whole life basically. It was a hobby at first and then some commissions came along so I started focusing more on what I want to say through my series. For me it was always about sequences of photos and rarely about individual image. I always tried to form narratives based on different sort of themes, or subjects, or atmospheres. This is why it is so hard for me to select random photos for magazines. Selection that comes with this interview will also be out of any particular context.
The aesthetical style itself hasn’t changed much, I think.
I understand you are also an architect and illustrator. How did photography find its way into your life?
When I started photographing more during my architectural studies I naively thought that photography could save me from architectural precision, concreteness and firmness. So I dived into photography to liberate myself and to find new forms of freedom and poetry. Few years later, after getting to know light and details that make beautiful atmospheres, I came back to architecture with joy, because I realized how creation process is actually very similar, if not even the same. Architecture could be much more poetic than photography and photography can be more strict than architecture. I started noticing how architectural methodology is unconciously being used for creating photography sequences and vice versa. This synchronization is a big part of my PhD proposal that I want to further investigate during next three years.
What do you enjoy shooting the most? How do you find inspiring places and people to work with?
I am inspired by so many things that I find it hard to answer this sort of questions. Inspiration is not a conscious thing for me, it usually comes by surprise. It is mostly something that move me, in one way or another. I guess that it is most acurate to say that inspiring places and people find me and then I work with them, ha.
Have you tried any of our Lomo cameras so far?
Yes, I was obsessed with Lomo aestetics 10 years ago, when I started photographing more often. My favourite camera was Lomo LCA, and I also used Diana and Holga. I liked how there was always something you couldn’t predict on photographs when you develop a film roll and at that phase it was exciting for me.
What fascinates you the most about analogue photography? You are shooting with both digital and analogue cameras, but which one do you use the most for your line of work?
I have to say I am in love with the whole analogue process. Firstly, carefully picking what to capture because you have only 36 attempts. Secondly, waiting several days to see final results and anticipating how will photos turn out. Thirdly, always being surprised while you are looking at developed photos, even when you think you know exactly what you’ve shot. Not many things in life can beat this feeling of first glance at developed rolls. Ah. I also shoot a lot with digital cameras last few years, but mostly for commissioned work when you don’t have enough time to wait it all out.
Can we expect some new series from you soon?
Yes! I am preparing a small exhibition with Belgrade’s Kolektiv gallery.
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