“Yes, I know Neda. She is a great photographer.” You will always hear those two sentences when you ask someone if she or he knows Neda Rački. When I see a great photograph, I ask someone to tell me who is the author as I would like to meet that person, the photographer. That was the case with Neda, as well. We know each other since 2012, when I just started to be an active member of the same Photography Club in Zagreb. Unlike many other photographers I know, including myself, Neda does not complicate when she describes her photographs. It is really like a part of her life and her constant falling in love with the city she lives in, with the places she visits, with the nature she adores. Her photographs, as you can see, are calm, clean and they do reflect different kind of happiness. Happiness of being together, being free or just enjoying the moment of contentment.
© Neda Rački ALL Rights Reserved
Q: Who are you? Please, present yourself, briefly?
A: Neda Rački, from Zagreb – the city I am in love with, just like I am in love with travel and photography.
Q: You as photographer. Are you a different person with and without a camera in your hands?
A. I am the same person. The only difference is that when I take photographs I tend to forget about the time, cold, heat, hunger, tiredness..
Q: What does photography mean to you?
A: Photography is my reality and my imagination at the same time: by taking photographs, by selecting a scene, I create an image which is a combination of the present moment and my current mood. The same like the painter does with his or her brush.
Q: Do you consider yourself an amateur or a pro?
A: I am an amateur. I am not obsessed with the types, possibilities, prices and other elements of the camera. The quality of photography does not depend of the quality of the camera you take photographs with. It is about the photographer. If my photographs find their way to the eye, heart and soul of the viewers, I am happy and satisfied photographer.
Q: How do you see your development as a photographer – considering different categories in photography, different fields of interest, different ways of photographing?
A: After the turbulent beginning and trying to do many different things in photography, very soon I have recognized that my favourite is black and white photography. From time to time I do experimental photography. These are the moments when I let my imagination mix the reality with the fiction.
Q: In your opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from other photographers? What are you doing differently? Do you think that people see your photographs the same way you see them?
A. I always let others to spot that difference. I belong to the circle of photographers who in the urban city life like to capture and conserve peace, tranquility and harmony.
Q: How often do you take photographs?
A: Very often. Almost every day. One of my photographs (Five Black Hats) which was awarded in UK, was taken on my way to the open market. My camera was with me, just in case. This is a good example that you need to carry your camera always with you as you never know where a good photo story is waiting for you.
Q: Are you working on a special photography project and if yes, how long do you need to accomplish such a project? You can give as a concrete example.
A: I am not working on any projects. My only project is the street, in other words life. I do not like to give myself tasks which I then need to work out and accomplish and to create a kind of obligation to myself. I do not even think about the collections – I rather try to combine the images I already have – with the new ones and put it in a kind of a coherent unit, trying to connect them with the story, color, shape, message or with some other element. The most beautiful thing is if I can show with that one photograph what was important to me at the moment when I took that image with my camera.
Q: How important are people on your photographs and why?
A: The city is for me a living being, a person who has the identity, life, a history and the future, just like people. Each city is worthy of respect, because it represents the most complex human creation, the most complex composition of shapes and volumes in space. The buildings , courtyards , streets, squares, avenues, boulevards and parks – are its exterior, and the citizens, residents, visitors, passers-by, tramps – are its soul . It is therefore important one, because it represents the soul of each city.
Q: What is it that drives you to take photographs? Is it a final result or the act of photographing? Please elaborate.
A: It is definitely – the act of photographing! Being on the street with my camera, is an intimate journey and hanging out with a friend who will also remember, just like myself.
Q: What do you think about photo competitions? Can art be competitive?
A: The competitions for us, amateurs, are needed for several reasons . First, we get rid of the fear of presenting our images to the public. Second, we test our photographic expression. Third, we learn by looking at other people’s photos . Fourth, they are like an incentive to continue to build as photographers.
Q: Black and white or colour and why?
A: The Best is to quote Ted Grant: “When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. When you photograph in black and white, you photograph their soul.” I would add that nature has a soul and that each city has its own soul. So, black and white.
Q: What is your favourite lens and why?
A: The only one which I have. Which came with my camera.
Q: In your opinion, what tells a better story, a single photo or a series of photographs.
A: There are no rules . It depends what you want to tell . Personally, I like to express or to tell a story through a single image.
Q: Is photography very present in Croatia and do you think that it is underestimated?
A: Photography is omnipresent in everyday life. It is in the service of all the media, and it is the media itself. Therefore, it is often underestimated , because everyone can take pictures and publish. However I am glad when the galleries in Zagreb exhibit the photographs of Croatian and especially foreign authors, whose works, otherwise, can be seen only on the Internet or in books. During last couple of years we have had really nice treats such as: Felix Nadar , Steve McCurry , Ar Güler , Jan Saudek , Peter Lindbergh
Q: Given the availability of the camera to the masses , do you think that anyone can be a good photographer?
A: A photograph must have a good eye and a sense of moderation. If the talent is built and upgraded, the chances to become a good photographer are big.
Q: It seems that your favourite genre is street photography. Why?
A: I’m a city kid and the city is for me my natural environment. Coming out into the street with a camera in my hand, I am taking the life of the city in a different way. I take its moments which in that hundredths of a second become an illusion, because they are no more in the reality and they are now just a part of my memory. These are the moments of the city intimacy which are given to me as a present and it seems that they are intended to be given just to me and my camera.
Q: You have an excellent eye for catching a great scene. Before starting with photography what was you preferred art?
A: Painting. I always felt sorry that I have no talent for painting. Probably this lack is now being compensated through photography .
Q: Thinking about your photographs, my first words would be: geometry, magic, purity (relating to your photographs of the nature (mountains). What do you think about that?
A: The mountains are my great love. In the mountains we see how small and insignificant we are, but still brave and persistent. I have a lot of mountain photos. They are for me a documentary reminder of where I was and all the beauty I saw. The moment when in the distance I see a man, then I have one central point, which determines the scene and only then is a photograph not just a copy of a factual nature, but the story of the relationship between man and a nature. It is then easily reduced to geometry.
© Neda Rački ALL Rights Reserved
Q: Taking photographs in Zagreb is not easy. The city is full of everything from tents, garbage cans, various parasols, ugly booths, billboards. However in your photos it looks like we are still in a time of Tošo Dabac. Everything is spacious, clean and airy. What do you think about it?
A: Thank you for this beautiful comparison . When I photograph I’m not trying to imitate known photographers or the ones I really like. I have lived Zagreb which Tošo Dabac has photographed . I remember Zagreb from those times. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe, with my camera, I am looking for the lost memories or traces of time that I recognize in a given frame. Yes, Zagreb is often cluttered with everything, but if you’re in the city every day, at different times of the day, if you are patient and persistent, if you often return to the same places, you’ll catch the peaceful and pure moments .
Q: What exactly is photography? Please give us your favourite statement.
A: “Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” – Ken Rockwell. I would not add anything more here.
Q: Do you have a set of private photographs which you are not willing to publish?
A: I do not want to publish bad photographs even if I do like them for some reason.
Q: One well known photographer said “Why photographing if you do no show the photographs to other people.” What is your view here?
A: All the things I have recorded, I can show only to my closest friends and the selected work is shown to the wider audience – to the ones who for various reasons might be interested in my work. I do not think people should be cluttered with the bunch of similar, uninteresting, poor quality photos. And every photographer has such photographs.
Q: What is the most frequent mistake you make when you take photographs?
A: When I put my camera back into the bag and say: “Enough for today!”, And then, just after a few steps I see the unique scene.
Q: Could you please share a little piece of knowledge (around photography, taking photographs etc.) which could be useful for our readers?
A: Never say that the city you have visited or you live in is boring and that you already have everything in it photographed and that this is a completed story for you. The city, its streets, especially people, will tell you something new and different every day, and every season, light or shadow will shape the new wondrous scenes.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say in closing to our readers?
A: Thank you for your patience.
Neda, thank you very much for your time and your beautiful photographs.