Vanjo Grobljar:
Some people wept
when they saw
my photos

Heis a Slovenian photographer that captures stories about women, the lives they live and their experiences. Art Gallery 5’14 presents Vanjo Grobljar and his photo stories that inspired him to believe in himself again. Stories that will surely inspire you too.

- We would like to start from the beginning. Tell us what led you to become a photographer?
- I was 14 years old and my parents bought me a camera. It was a plastic one. I took pictures of everything ... boxes, stories, clothes, everything. After a few years I asked my parents to buy me a new camera. They bought me a Zorki. I kept taking lots of pictures.

- Do you have these photos?
- No, no, I lost everything. Maybe I like to show some people how I started, but I don't have photos of when I was younger.
- From this moment on, do you ever stop taking photos?
- No, never. When I started traveling, I was 18, maybe 19 years old, I always take my camera and take pictures of all things. 

- Do you remember your first camera you bought with your money? How old were you?
- That was many years later, it was a camera with optics. I traveled a lot and took pictures of people, but the most important thing was not to take pictures but have connection with people. The camera helped me with it. According to my experience, people seeing you with a camera open up more easily. 
When I was about 30, maybe 35 years old, a friend of mine who was a journalist asked me if I could take some pictures for him. I did and he liked them. Then I bought a new camera, a digital camera, and started working as a press photographer. It was not my main job; it was more of a hobby.
At the time of a crisis here, in Central Europe I lost connection with the newspapers. And I decided that it was time to do a job that I want and the way I want to do it. Then I started creating womens' stories.

- Why women?
- I’m not too keen on working with men. I guess I don't have the courage; I get nervous. I tried, but I couldn’t. 
The last 3 years, I have been working on these stories. There are stories of single women who can dream big dreams and are united in these captured moments.
This project puts a woman in the foreground; the one who makes her path everyday, on her own. A woman who creates her own life. A woman with her own dreams in an oversized world who can be a woman, a girl, a mother, and a business woman in one person. Success stories and decision-making situations that define an individual's path.
I encouraged my models to tell their story. And this is the reason why my images have that strong emotion. When you look at the images you find your story, you find yourself.

- Tell us about these models. Who are they?
- They are casual street models. If I see a woman on the street whom I like to involve in my project, I invite her. I explain how I see her in my story.
- How do women react when you invite them on the street to be the models for your project?
- From one standpoint I guess it must look a bit strange. I start to talk with her, and it seems like some stranger who comes to talk to her for the first time. I must say something very interesting to her. I see very quickly if the ice breaks or not. In 50 percent of cases it works.
Here in Slovenia, women work, study and don’t have the time. They are willing to work with me, but they don't have time. I like to take pictures in the morning. I like to take pictures in bad weather, in winter conditions, etc. This requires a lot of time and dedication.

- How many photographs you already have in your story?
- At the moment I have between 19 different set of images which I produced with 40 or 50 different models.
I am testing different places, inviting different models. Sometimes a model says “it's not my story, I do not like this”. Then I must find another model for this story or another story for this model.
Sometimes I see the picture and I am not satisfied so I do it again. I prefer not to use photoshop but to take a new photo. I can change the place for the photo or invite another model. 
Another thing is that I still use my film camera because some of the black and white images look better made with a film camera and not with the digital camera. But this is my opinion. 

- How many shots does it take to get a perfect photo?
- 600 shots with one model.

- The biggest challenge is to choose the best one, right?
- No, while shooting I already know which photo is the best and which one I will add to my story.
One of the last images I made was with trains. To get this image I took 2000 shots.

- When do you plan to finish the project?
- I think in 2 years. Then I will print a book about my story, hopefully the government will support me to do this. And I also will have an exhibition.

- You are a member of the association of photographers at Fotoklub LJUBLJANA. How does the association promote photography?
- Yes, I’m a member of Fotoklub, I’m working there with artists and we have discussions about photography. I am enjoying it. In the club there are professionals, emerging photographers and there are about 70-80 members and we meet monthly and we organize exhibitions, etc.

- Is it easy to be a photographer in Slovenia? What kind of obstacles do you have? 
- You just need to buy a good camera. With the camera you become the photographer. But to be a photographic artist you need to have someone who can teach you, explain things...

- So, it’s necessary to have a mentor, isn’t?

- Are you a mentor, or would you like to be a mentor of someone?
- Yes, I have four people, they are my assistants and they accompany me at the photo shoots.

- What is the best compliment you have received so far?
- Some people wept when they saw my photos, because they saw themselves in them.