Why Photography, and Why Now?

A leaf on a snowy surface with the lens intentionally zoomed during the exposure. with
The first picture I made for the mentioned 365 Photos challenge. It is a composite of several photos with different intentional camera movement zoom effects.

I grew up in an artistic family. My father is an architect but also a versatile creator. In addition to architecture, he sculpts, designs, builds furniture, draws, and paints. My mother is an art lover and amateur historian. Even in her older age, it is no problem for her to travel across Europe to see her favorite painters’ exhibitions. Similar people often visited our house when I was little, and visual arts were always discussed and presented. I always appreciated it but didn’t expect to be interested or capable of doing it in the future. I liked technology, so I saw myself more like an engineer or, of course, a pilot.

It was in the 80s when home computers were becoming an exciting new reality. Back then, if you wanted anything more than to play games, you had to learn to write code. And, while my friends were making their first attempts at creating databases and utility software, I was programming – drawings. I would program my Commodore64 to create shapes and fill them with colors and thus created logos, flags, and symbols of the world’s air forces (of course).

I considered studying architecture, but as I was afraid of the sketching admission exam and because I was excited about the growing capability of computers, I ended up studying computer sciences. However, there was at least something about visual creation behind the decision, as I intended and hoped I would end up working with computer graphics.

It did start like that. While studying, I created visualizations and composites for my father’s architectural work. One composite that we did with 3D Studio (still the MS-DOS version) for a competition that he got an award for is, to this day, one of the works I’m most proud of. To illustrate the times, we had to wait 45 minutes to render a single 640×480 image. Quality color printers weren’t available, and the resolution was too small anyway, so we photographed (on film) the computer screen and made the prints in the local photoshop. It looked fantastic, and I was so proud. For a moment, I saw myself doing special effects and animations in the movies or something similar.

But these were also postwar times in Croatia. The economy was going down, money was tight, and opportunities were scarce. It was clear that difficult times were ahead. So, when I had a chance to secure my first job even before I graduated, I took it.

Looking back, I did it as if on autopilot. “You are almost finished with your studies, and you have an opportunity for a steady job – of course, you will take it. It is a smart thing to do.”

I remember that, right about that time, I had an opportunity to join the sailing expedition Arctic-Antarctic around Alaska with the prospect of joining them again when they get to Antarctica. I declined it because of this new job. Talk about playing it safe. Thinking about it now, it seems ridiculous. Still, back then, it was indeed the mindset of many people in a country where the war ended a few short years ago and, even that, only formally.

My first job was about networked multimedia. Today, when we can routinely organize “zoom” calls from our homes, it might sound strange that we needed a mobile team with a car, hardware video codecs, lighting, sound, cameras, and video switchers to organize a high-quality distance lecture between two cities. It was a cool job where I got to play with cameras, give lessons about computer graphics, and walk around the Monaco Grand Prix track while attending the Imagina conference. I even participated actively in the famous Zagreb Festival of animated films. However, local market realities and a lack of a clear career path led me to look elsewhere.

I started to gain experience with system integration, so the next step was in a reputable local IT company. The job was pure technology, with nothing creative about it, but the team was great, it paid well, and I had clear future prospects.

I stayed there for a while, then moved to Microsoft, learning a lot while significantly advancing my career and, it has to be said, self-confidence and determination. Gradually, I have had more responsibilities and less free time. But I was successful, and that was enough to keep me motivated. Over time I got used to it, and doing something creative became just an old wish and a “could have been.”

I was always somewhat uneasy about it. Deep down, I knew that IT and business weren’t my true loves, even though I was good at them. I would sometimes daydream that I would do something about it one day, but, you know, not today…

Even when I decided to leave the corporation and start my own business, I based it on my previous technical and managerial experiences. However tricky getting into a new industry and market proved to be, I knew I had the needed skills, and it would be a matter of time before I could make it work.

Covid came, my drone business had to do another aborted takeoff maneuver, and I had a lot of time to reflect. As my business seemed to be going nowhere, a feeling of being stuck and not having control of my life started to creep in. These were some difficult times. To help myself a little, I recalled my “always the lowest priority hobby,” photography. I started a 365 photographs project.

My beginnings with photography were with analog films. I liked its part technical, part artistic nature. Even though I lived with an excellent teacher and role model, I never had the skills or discipline to learn how to sketch or paint. But I was able to understand the technical part of photography easily. I would do it occasionally when I found the time or an opportunity with better-than-average but not spectacular results. It always seemed to miss that final step to make it truly great.

As I started my 365 Project, I also began to read books, follow photographers on social media and listen to their lectures. It quickly became clear to me. It is not about being a genius, although the best ones really are. Like everything else, it is about hard and smart work. If I want to be better, I need to work at it. A lot. Chase the best light, search for unique places and views, make many mistakes, and keep trying. I started doing it for my daily photos – and loved it.

I began to think that it was not too late. It might be possible for me to have a career in arts and photography after all. But, this time, I must “go all in” and give my best because “when I find time and opportunity” will not be enough. It also meant starting something almost from scratch and becoming a beginner with no implication of success.

As evident from this website, I decided to go for it. If you’re interested in how it ends, follow the journey on this blog. I don’t yet know how it ends, either.


My drone business eventually picked up. I’m still interested in drones and need income, so I will keep it for now. However, I’m cautious about leaving enough room in my planning so that Antonio, the photographer, can keep growing.

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