Interview with Photographer Aleksandar “Alex The Great” Gligoric
“If something touches me, give me an emotion, bring me a memory, a dream… that’s the inspiration.”
To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get into photography world? I was born in 1979 in Novi Sad, the capital of culture in former Yugoslavia. Ever since I was a child, I expressed great interest in different forms of art, especially music, fine literature, cinema and photography. I was a guitar player for a few influential rock bands at the time and I was doing photography as a hobby, but having to support my family in a country torn by wars and constant crisis, I was forced to put my real interests and talents a side for a while.
How has photography influenced or changed you as a person? What is going through your mind when you are behind the camera? When I am behind the camera – I am deaf and absent. There’s model and scene and nothing else.
Aleksandar, what do you love the most about photography? I love everything, I am like a kid! Photography is my passion, not a job. I am involved in every step of a shoot, from the first second till the very end.
How did you move specifically towards portrait photography? Why portraits in particular? The eyes are really the most expressive part of the body for me…and then the lips, the mouth is very important. But the eyes are by far the key. Thus portraits are my favorite part of photography.
What inspires you and what gives you ideas to create your beautiful images? If something touches me, give me an emotion, bring me a memory, a dream… that’s the inspiration. When you look it’s the same. Photography always starts with a look. You look outside of your window and you see something or you’re walking down the street and you see a girl and you turn your face. And if you are a photographer you want to go in and you want to discover or you want to be closer to these things to get this emotion.
Can you name a collection or single work that you have created that has resonated with you the most emotionally? I like working with kids. Each photo session with the girl called “Lana” is very very special to me.
You also photograph fashion and most of your projects are a collaborative process. Tell us what is like to always be working with new stylists, models, and designers? I had luck to choose my own team – from model, over makeup artists, assistants, to stylist. Key is organization, and above all communication. If something is not going as expected…I am like “All right guys, let’s go out of studio, for a brunch or coffee”.
How do you choose your locations? Is there anything specific that you’re looking for? Sometimes I choose location, but sometimes location chooses me. Recently I was driving trough national park here in Serbia, and I spotted a few beautiful places. When I got home, I called my stylist, and modeling agency – and I was shooting there two days after that (laughing). On the other case I was informed by my stylist that we will show gold and black collection…I was lurking all around till I found abandoned beach with beautiful sand, which neutral color perfectly fits with gold and black collection, making clothes and model to pop up.
In your opinion, what makes the good picture to stand out from the average? How do you choose which images you provide to your clients? If it is good enough for me, then it is good for them (laughing). I would never deliver half product or something that I don’t like… never ever. Recently I had a shot, my first and last time that I didn’t choose model and location…and I didn’t like it. On the other side, designer pieces that I showed were MARVELOUS. I came home, took a look at the photos, and called the designer and said “Mate, let’s do it on my location, with my model”. He agreed and the result was magical!
Do you plan each photo out or are they created more organically? Can your ideas change depending on the team you are working with? I am very flexible and open to suggestions. I have something I call “main vision” – foundation of project…and I stick to it, but not at all costs. Often model makes some move between shots and I am like “That’s it! Remember that please!” 🙂
Can you tell us the challenges/differences of doing a magazine editorial as opposed to doing a test shoot? Editorials takes a lot of organization and planning: from models, to location, mood… everything. Test shots are more fun, but I am taking it seriously… as every other shot!
Aleksandar, what are you looking for in a model? What is an X factor for you? As a portrait photographer I am looking for expressive models. You can see it in the eyes, and later on the shot… not everything depends on a model, it also depends on communication and overall vibe. Second important thing is something I called “natural movement”… everything on the photo must “flow” and look relaxed and natural!
What is the key to getting the best out of someone for portrait and beauty shots? Would you have any special portrait posing tips? That is individual, there’s no formula for a good portrait. That is a moment, it happens or sometimes not…but when you catch it – you know that is it.
What does beauty mean to you as a photographer? Beauty is something that comes inside and reflects in your eyes, skin, movement… There’s no such thing as universal beauty, again, that is just a moment.
How do you feel about digital manipulation and post processing programs? Are they important in your photography? And what do you think it delivers in the final image? I am using Photoshop, and it helps a lot. Color correction, maybe a contrast and just a bit of retouch…but yeah, the software is important in process of making a good photograph.
How do you choose which images you ultimately provide to your clients? That’s a tricky part (laughing). Sometimes you have a problem, for example – model doesn’t like this or that photo… as I have said, I am trying to keep my team highly involved in all parts of photography. Except choosing images. That is for my eyes only, almost intimate process (laughing) When I look at the photo I know if “that is it”.
What are your goals/plans for the future? Is there somebody you are fascinated about and you’d like to work with in the future? There is. Recently I made arrangements with famous and well know actors. I will do series of portraits, with specific scenography, and that is something that makes me so happy and looking forward to it!
In your eyes, what are the most difficult aspects of professional photography? When it comes to photography, honestly, nothing is difficult to me. I enjoy in the whole process – from communication with clients, stylists and models, over shooting, and finally post processing…it is a passion for me.
What role does social media play in your photography business? I am an old school guy, but I like and I am frequently using social media…That is a great way to connect with your fanbase, artist you like and so on.
What would be your words of wisdom for photography enthusiasts at the beginning of their journey? Stick with your own aesthetic, and don’t pay too much attention to feedback…with time, you will have army of followers and clients that will recognize your aesthetics. Be yourself.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not taking pictures? What else do you do besides photography? I play guitar in punk bands for past 20 years. Punk culture influenced me and my photography in best possible way.