Emina Ibrahimović is only 22 but already sees the world through the eyes of a well-experienced traveler. And her photos depict the same. They are not merely capturing moments of reality or try to convey certain emotions but seem to be additionally commenting on themselves. They are both, criticism on and an ode to the authenticity of the places she captures.
With roots in Bosnien and Herzegowina, Emina is now living in Germany and studies cultural science and philosophy in Berlin. Whenever time allows her to do so, she takes her 35mm cameras on journeys through the streets of foreign countries, looking for expressive shots and intimate portraits. This time, Emina tested our Lomography XPRO 200 in the streets of Lisbon.
Why do you choose analogue photography in our digital age?
Because of the process starting with releasing the shutter all the way to developing the result. It is a process that requires sensitivity and the willingness to constantly keep learning. I don't want to say that digital photography is easier. It is simply a different kind of process. I like working with the actual matter and chemical reactions, I find that very romantic.
What is the perfect shot for you?
A harmonious composition that catches me. There are certain photos, I can recall vividly anytime in front of my inner eye, like the work of Saul Leiter.
How did your own photographic style evolve throughout the past couple of years?
My style evolves with every series I shoot. I am very self-critical and like to compare myself to other photographers. That keeps me motivated and helps me to reflect on my work as well as to improve my techniques - which is a lifelong process, of course. However, when I was younger, I oriented myself too much by others, while I am now focusing more on finding and creating my own creative style. That is not easy of course. We are living in a constant flood of pictures, but analogue photography helps me to calm down and evolve without copying someone else.
Looking at your Instagram you seem to focus on travel photography right now
That is true. Taking pictures while traveling helps me getting into conversations with strangers. I have had loads of wonderful talks, which all add up to the importance of those pieces. It is not only about collecting impressions but also about the attempt to represent the moment in the same way I have experienced it.
What triggered your interest in travel photography and what advice do you have for someone who wants to do the same?
Already as a child, I have been fascinated by the possibility of composing and started at an early age to make my own music, paint and take pictures. The factor of composition is also my main interest in photography - especially in situations you have almost no control over. That is why I love street photography. I believe that one should always, not only when on vacation, be aware of one's surroundings. Also, it always helps to ask yourself: Why do I feel the urge to take a picture of this?
Traveling always means confronting the unknown. What does foreignness mean to you and what fascinates or inspires you about it?
To me, there is no such thing as foreignness. I myself grew up bicultural and learned early on in my life that differences are only superficial. I always try to be respectful and appreciative when approaching something new, because the unknown is not an attraction. A Malayan artist once told me that tourists often behaved as if they were in an amusement park and that they would not respect the locals. I think about her words a lot, and I think that mass tourism has definitely affected our perception of foreignness. Especially as photographers, it is important not to act selfishly when working in another country.
That is one of the reasons why it is particularly difficult to combine street photography and portraits. How do you feel about approaching people with your camera?
It is not easy and calls for sensibility. Whenever I feel that someone doesn't approve of the encounter, I respect that. Nobody should become my object of desire. Of course, by now I have had both, positive and negative experience, but you can always learn from them and I would not want to miss a single memory.
How do you pick people for your portraits? What fascinates you about the ones you choose?
I can't really tell. Some people simply attract me. It is something about their aura that triggers my desire to take their picture. Naturally, they don't have to be objectively beautiful, but somehow touch me with their gaze, posture or charisma. In fact, current beauty standards have a rather repelling effect on me.
Which moment to you prefer: Releasing the shutter or holding the developed result in your hands?
Releasing the shutter! When I started taking pictures it was the other way around, but now I already know pretty well how the result will turn out. For that reason, the moment of releasing the shutter is more challenging and exciting.
Do you think that your photographic style is affected by the respective country you are traveling in, or do you even adapt your style consciously to your surroundings?
The style adapts automatically because I, myself adapt to the country. The respective climate alone influences how I move around, where I stay and all of that. The conditions of a certain place more or less constitute my limits.
Your Lisbon-series seems to follow a golden thread: Apart from your portraits, all of your pieces deny us the full sight - either through obstructed composition or by showing your objects from behind. Is that due to aesthetic reasons or is it your way of commenting on something?
Lisbon is, without doubt, a very beautiful city. But just like many other European cities, it is slowly losing its authenticity. Gentrification doesn't go by without leaving its marks and with the disappearance of its inhabitants, the city itself is losing its character.
Brightly polished backdrops for tourist-ads are not the least interesting to me.Thousands of people capture those scenes on a daily basis. What I am interested in is another point of view. The one that most people don't get to see. The one that points out things that are usually overlooked.
Did you edit the photos you took for us in Lisbon?
I never edit my photos. There are simply too many options and I find it difficult to handle all the possibilities that editing brings with it. You can get lost in its process so easily and I am happier with sticking to the simpler, puristic style. The intense green colour in this series is due to the Lomography XPRO 200 Film, which helped a lot to capture the atmosphere the way I wanted to.
Do you have any advice for using the Lomography XPRO 200 Slide (35mm)? What worked out well for you and what did not?
Actually, everything worked out just fine for me. The result of the color was surprising and fascinating. I fell in love with the green cast of those pictures and am already thinking of good ways to use it again.
What are your future plans? Any projects we can look forward to?
I am planning a journey to and through the Balkan. I hope I will be able to share my impressions with you.
Follow Emina on her journeys on Instagram.