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Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Feature news story from Montenegro, done by 4×5″ large format view camera

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Two weeks ago I had a solo exhibition opening in very beautiful gallery Atelje Dado in Cetinje, Montenegro. It was a long trip of about 1500km there and back, but I enjoyed it a lot. The exhibition place was great, I enjoyed staying in Montenegro, we used to be in the same country and since I speak fluent Serbian, I felt like visiting a relative far away, not a tourist or a stranger at all. I’ve done also a talk and demonstration of wet plate collodion process and it was good, very good, people liked it and results were good too.

12190071_10153036221765216_7764312863671303157_n-2Before I left on the road I heard there were violent protest happening in the capital of Montenegro, so I’ve decided that I will make a reportage about that. The question was how will I do it? I can not compete with local photojournalists and I wasn’t interested in news photography, I’ve done that a lot, I wanted to do it differently. I had to think what kind of reportage will I make, how will I approach the subject, what will be the subject at all? Many important questions to be answered before picking up a camera.

Talking about the camera, I was reluctant to take my super digital camera Nikon D4 with me, it’s too heavy and too expensive and I wasn’t into news kind photojournalism anyway, so I decided to do the feature reportage with my 4×5″ camera. I’ve decided that I will not wait for the violent protest, those images will be in the news anyhow, I wanted to make a different kind of story, so I’ve made the following approach.

I’ve focused on an ordinary resident of Montenegro, made a short interview and a portrait of them. The portrait was done in the manner of August Sander. Straight, portrait, with environment, so you get a sense who are these people, what is their job, what’s their status and so on. Since I was using an old bellow camera, I got a permission to do the portrait from all of them, I couldn’t steal a portrait with this kind of camera anyhow, but still I’m experienced photojournalist in the business for about 15 years and I know that the attractive camera did brake the ice for me.

When I came home there was the hardest task, to write a story, to write a text! For all of my years as a photojournalist I always was working in a team with a journalist, but now I had to do all by myself. I was kind of confident, because I knew how am I going to do this story before I picked up a camera or ask a question, so I sit down to write the story at 8am and finished it at 4pm. The experience working with excellent journalists for magazines like The Observer, Colors Magazine, Corriere della Sera, Mladina and others, was very good foundation. Even the editor in chief of Mladina weekly, said I wrote a good text. I was really satisfied with the feature reportage that was published in Mladina weekly. You can read the full article from THIS link, but it’s in the proper language, so I apologise to English speakers.

Last but not least, I’ve showed the feature story to my friend at UK’s picture agency Panos Pictures and he found it excellent and published it on their blog as an example of a good feature story. HA!!!

Long forgotten love for photojournalism revived in me. I don’t want to do daily news, but I am interested in daily life, small stories, that are affected by the stories from the news. Plus I realised I can do a reportage with a slow view camera, better then with my ultrafast digital camera! And imagine that, I can also write!!!

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Written by Borut Peterlin

8 November, 2015 at 22:21

2 Responses

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  1. beautiful reportage !

    Victor Bezrukov, photographer

    9 November, 2015 at 08:20

  2. Great post! Marvellous that you did it all with a large format camera

    fatfreddysproject

    9 November, 2015 at 10:42


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