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Interview with: Irena Hujdur

Contributed by: Rusmir Arnautovic
Date: Saturday 11, December 2010
Interview with: Irena Hujdur

We asked. She answered. Read an interview with Irena Hujdur. Photographer from Bosnia

Tell us something about yourself?

My name is Irena Hujdur (25). My profession is psychology, but because of my love for arts and artistic expression, I’m also a photographer and a musician. For this occasion, I would rather be introduced as a photographer. I’m a member of photo club Tuzla, in the Association for artistic photography of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I already took part in many exhibitions inside and outside of the country. In september 2009. during the traditional “Days of Photography” in Prozor/Rama, I was given a title of “First class photographer”. In May 2010 I also had my first independent exhibition in Cabaret theater in Tuzla, and there were over 100 visitors, my friends and other people who appreciate my works. On this exhibitions I presented different kinds of works, from my first entry in Photo club in 2006 to now.

How did you start this job / hobby?
When I first started shooting photography and even before I even knew that there is a photo-club in Tuzla, I published most of my works on Internet. It was 4 years ago when I met a girl from Great Britain who told me that for a good photography you need a good eye and a good camera. Back then, i thought the ratio was 50:50, but with time it shifted towards the “good eye” side. I started with a common point-and-shoot camera with 3.2 megapixel resolution. Even my friends from photo-club, whose opinion I appreciate the most, say that those were my best photos.

Which part of this job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy every second of my creative work, from creating the concept and choosing the motif, to shooting photos and post-producing them (finishing them). I avoid the word “editing” because “editing” and “finishing” are not synonymous and they do not describe the same procedure. I love finding the perfect moment under perfect lighting conditions and when I already on the camera display see that I have succeed and I am most satisfied when final result needs only minimal corrections. Of course, there are different moments and degrees of spontaneity, as well as those shootings when I have special demands by other people. Therefore, everything I just spoke of is related only to the works which are part of my imagination, because I am an artistic photographer before anything else.

Which part of this job do you enjoy the least?
Working with people (of course, I don’t necessarily mean models). Sometimes they call me to shoot weddings, parties and similar occasions, or people just want nice photos of themselves and their family for their own collection. I like discipline and well-discussed tasks, so I can be thrown off by people who are late, who break deadlines and who put me under pressure, especially when they call me the next day after shooting and demand photos although we have discussed that post-production takes days. I always try to be as quick as possible and respect other people’s time, because that’s the only thing we can never give back to them. I also don’t like it when people don’t know what they want.

Who is the worst enemy of creativity in your case?
I don’t know any. Art photography, as well as any other branch of arts, should never be turned into mass-production, nor should it be put together with commercial photography. Nobody is expected to be inspired at any possible time, nor would that be realistic. Therefore, I try to use every inspiring event the best way I can and I know exactly, when something happens, what I want to see on the final photography. Those are times when I ignore everything else in favor of my work, which is my first and only focus, and I tend to ignore everything else. However, from time to time, I could use some better pieces of gear, but then again, when discussing the gear, I often quote an american photographer who used to say that there is nothing worse than a sharp picture of an unclear concept.

What do you do when you start working on a new project and you have no ideas?
If I have to follow a specific theme, I usually watch some music videos with similar content. Some of them can be real masterpieces of the seventh art in a small package. I also like to watch how others have done the same things before me. I have several websites which serve me as my “daily dosage of inspiration”. And when even that doesn’t help, I go outside for a walk, and I’m trying to blend into the role of stranger in my own city. Then I discover nooks and crannies and lots of small details, which I have already passed nearby many times but which I have never really perceived, and so I collect a lot of material which I can put to use sometime later.

What inspires you the most?
Music. Most of my photos have names of my favorite songs or albums. I feel free to find my own meaning in songs and to think what it would like if I had to represent it in a single scene. And there is no better way to show that than using human emotions and expressions. That’s why emotive portraits are my central motifs.

Which software do you use during your creative process?
I don’t do any photo-manipulation (yet), so Adobe Photoshop is my weapon number two, after my camera, which I use to create my artistic world. Currently I use Photoshop CS3, although I was pretty close to the version 7 until recently, a relatively simple version which had all I needed.

When you sit down and start working on a new project, what does the flow of your thoughts look like?
It depends on how much time I have on my hands. If I have a lot of time, then I start with writing associations and whatever I imagine first, and then I go out and search for motifs. Or I set the “stage”, or more precisely, improvise a studio, in case I choose some classical studio or fashion portrait in order to set my idea forward. Photography is always the thing of a moment. There are never errors in spontaneous portraits and I always give them my highest marks. Such photos usually get awarded too. It’s only ironical that those are mostly photos of human desperation, suffering and pain.

What sorts of artists are you looking up to when searching for inspiration?
I appreciate the works of american photographer Ansel Adams, pioneer of black-and-white photography, who managed to build up his sense for exposure to perfection, and to show that black and white means a large spectrum of tones. He left everybody breathless with his black-and-white landscapes. When we talk about portrait-photographers, I can’t avoid Richard Avedon, one of the earliest american fashion photographers, well-known for his portraits of many celebrities, and his work in “Vogue” magazine. I am also inspired by works of a young british woman, Lara Jade, who is only 21 years old but already has a great experience in the industry of fashion photography and also some great portraits.

How did you find the idea and the concept of “Owls are the only birds able to see the blue color” competition?
I love it when I have a set theme. I find it more challenging than free-choice competitions. I was glad that there were so many artists from different genres participating, but they were all tied by a single theme - blue color - and everything came together in the end into a beautiful harmonic wholeness.

What is your representation of slogan “Freedom forever” in creative and artistic context?
Artistic freedom in every context. In this case, freedom of a photographer would be playing with lights and colors, experimenting with focal length and framing, motifs which need no words of description, the photos that speak for themselves. And generally it’s about the ability of photographer to touch hearts, make people think and sometimes even shock them.

Blue is the color of the Gauloises brand. What do you associate with the blue color?
I’ll speak from psychological point of view: trust, reliability, dreaminess, nostalgia, relaxation, peace. And working with that color, as such, balanced my own personality, since I am “red”, always on the move, provocative, reactive, insistent and very devoted to everything I work on.

Tell us more about your work?
Portraits aside, sometimes I am investigating even some inanimate objects, shapes and colors, in combination with human figure, but I can also achieve the same effect without it - bring an idea to life. In every form of conceptual art, the idea is the main catalyst behind created works and it’s prior to any traditional and technical rules and regulations. It’s considered that conceptual artists often lend ideas from philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminism and political sciences. My ideas come from music. That’s why, if I had to classify myself in some sort of artistic photographer, I’d like to be viewed as a conceptual photographer more than a portrait-photographer, because even my portraits always carry a dash of conceptualism.

In the end, in which direction would you like to develop further, in terms of design and arts?
Always learn, develop and educate yourself - that’s my motto. “Owls are the only birds able to see the blue color” is my first, but not also the last competition where I have been introduced outside of the Association and I am glad that my work got such high verdicts from the public and the jury. I plan my next personal exhibition soon, most probably in Sarajevo, but psychology is still my primary occupation. However, with a good organization and even more, with lot of love for photography, everything can be balanced together.

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