TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Featured in Conde Nast Traveler

with 2 comments

Conde Nast Traveler. Click for the link.https://www.cntraveler.com/story/slovenia-borut-peterlin-locals-guide

Here are my unedited answers. It is much longer and includes the smoothest topsh*t. I hope you will like it.

  • Think of where you live (city, country, or both). How would you describe it in your own words? It’s setting and how it looks? And the people? What makes this place unique? Is there a smell or a sound or a flavour that instantly reminds you of the city/country?
    If I would need to describe my own town, I would say I live in a small town, behind God’s back, as we say. The small town of Straža in Slovenia I would call nothing less than the centre of the planet Earth. Every point on the sphere could be proclaimed as its centre and why not proclaim the place where you live as the centre of the planet Earth? But by doing so, keep in mind that every other point on the planet is just as central as your own. The proclaimed centre of the world is not to be compared with any other point on the planet, it is just a recognition that this point where I am standing now is a very special point for the consciousness that I am.
  • What makes this place of Straža pri Novem mestu so special is that it is not special at all, it just is. It doesn’t have huge waterfalls, it doesn’t have huge mountains, it doesn’t have a seaside, it doesn’t have shiny startling tourist attractions, it doesn’t have a shopping mall and it doesn’t even have a single traffic light. Consequently it doesn’t have traffic jams, no rush hours, no parking fines, no terrorists. I’m 46 years old and I remember only one case of burglary in my neighbourhood. I might have invented the best anti-burglary system in the world. What I do is, I lock my house and leave the keys in the lock, so people know I am not at home, but I will be back soon. This system never failed and I am even thinking of patenting it and selling it throughout the world! #joke
  • Is there a smell or a sound or a flavour that instantly reminds you of the city/country? What reminds me of my country is peaceful quiet nights. I sleep eight out of twelve months per year outdoors, mostly on the balcony of my house, but very often also in my 49 year old old-timer Land Rover or just on the forest ground. Nights are so peaceful here and the sky is so spacious it is just enchanting, I will never have enough of it. I hope you understand by now in my small town of Straža, there aren’t any huge tourist attractions, just small ones, very very tiny ones. We have so tiny tourist attractions that you need to work on them, so you could call them attractions in the first place. For example we have the largest areas of virgin forest in Europe. I took several of my guests to the virgin forest and some of them couldn’t see it, because of all the trees, so we went back for lunch, but some of my guests pulled out a sketchbook, some had a meditation there, some were just hugging trees and two hours passed by like nothing. I love to cook in the wilderness and include in the meal whatever edible we find in the forest, like mushrooms, wild garlic, spruce buds, etc… Since I am a photographer and educator of 19th Century photographic processes we often pick up some oak bark or walnut leaves and from them we cook a “soup” that will tone the prints which we make later during the workshop.
  • Tell us about your connection to your city/country and how does your work as a photographer fit into the current narrative of your home country? I find Slovenia the best place to live and raise my kids, but at the same time it is the worst place in the world if you want to make a living with art. I’ve studied photography in Prague, London, Rochester (USA) and in Spain. I worked in Italy with Oliviero Toscani in Fabrica, United Colors of Benetton. So on one side I have this strong need of being in connection with the international photography community, but on the other I have this reality check living in a small town, trying to make a living and support my three kids with art. As it happened I’ve embraced social networks as a platform for my work and a few years down the road I can say I actually make a living from my art while living in a small town in a small country of Slovenia. I am publishing numerous vlogs on Youtube and of course nature is the main storyline. My videos are good promotion for the nature, but not only for foreigners, even for my closest family members. I remember that because of my videos my whole family including my mother, took a canoe ride on the river Krka, beside which she lived all her life, but she has never seen it the way I am seeing it. I am also consciously teaching my kids about the nature and its value. Of course they are just like any other teenager hypnotised by phone, but when they see my trips in nature, they do come along and we make pancakes in the wild and discovering caves and other mysteries of the woodland. I often make expeditions for friends with their children.
  • If a friend was visiting you from overseas and had just 24 hours in Slovenia, what would you tell them to do? Some from: There are two kinds of visits. If a friend was visiting me from overseas and had just 24 hours in Slovenia, I would advise him/her to see the main tourist attractions, like the amazing lake of Bled, the cave in Postojna, river Soča the capital of Ljubljana. If he/she would have more time and would like to visit the main attraction of my town, which is a peaceful connection with nature, it would take them longer than 24 hours. In fact, 24 hours is enough just to have a rest from the travel and talking from my own experience it takes another 12 to 24 hours in nature to silence the chatter of the mind. You know what I’m talking about, the constant avalanche of thoughts smashing the peacefulness of the present moment like a rolling stone over a flower. Visiting my area with a clear agenda really doesn’t make sense, since tourism isn’t a big industry here. Depending on the time of the year, you can take a walk with a herb collector, my neighbour is an expert in wild herbs, or you could learn something about bees, there is an European centre of beekeepers in the middle of the forest, out of the reach of all the agricultural spraying, or we live in area that is full of caves, I know a person who could show you caves, or if you want to see all and photograph the stars, we have really dark sky, famous in astrophotography, kayaking or rafting tours with camping along side the river Krka, or bear watching in wild, that’s very popular too. Where I live you can take a bike ride to the picturesque ruins of three 16th Century castles and in the forth one is a beautiful hotel with a proper master chef. Visitors who come to me, they are usually interested in handmade photography, the kind of photography that needs no electricity, just like it was done 150 years ago. We have expeditions and we experience all that through photography on glass plates. The bottom line is, my area is not the place for 24 hour visits.
  • What excites you about where you live/your home country right now? What or who is causing a buzz, is new and notable – what’s your latest discovery? What excites me foremost is the success stories of individual fellow Slovenians, like Luka Dončić, cyclists Roglič and Pogačar, the business stories of Pipistrel (NASA award for best electrical airplane), the Netflix star Ana Roš was chosen as the best master chef in the world, Slavoj Žižek’s super star status in philosophy and many other success stories on the international level. It is good for the people of such a small country to know they matter. I have been educated in the west, so to speak, and I know the feeling of not being competitive enough on the western market. Well, the new generation is kicking forward with high self esteem and I am thrilled on their behalf. That’s part of how I personally found peace in the place where I ran away from in my youth and although with my education I could live anywhere in the world, I know this is the place I belong. Few years ago Slovenia was declared as the greenest country in Europe and it is in the top five of the most sustainable countries in the world. That’s something really special!
  • And what is your all-time favorite local spot(s) that you return to again and again?
    It’s the peak of the hill Mali Rog, a destination that has no walking paths, but you can not miss it, it’s just driving for half an hour and then walking up the hill for 20 min. The hill offers a view on 500 km2 of woodland and you may be certain you will not meet a single human being there. The view is timeless, the feeling is eternal and I am so aware of every step I take, because you really don’t want to get lost up there. You can’t actually with a smart phone and its GPS navigation, but a phone is just a safety feature, it’s not really necessary. What is necessary is to get well informed and have respect for the environment. At the end of the day my favourite spot on the planet is in the living room of bear habitat. I’ve encountered many bears, but don’t worry, they mean no harm, I’ve seen them maybe ten times while they have seen me a thousand times for sure.
  • When you travel/are away, what do you miss most about your home country? Oh, it’s funny, when I am in a big metropolis, I enjoy the rush hours and the lack of parking space and all that modern nuisance of a city. I always say to myself, when was the last time I couldn’t find a parking spot? Ha! I don’t miss Slovenia, when I travel, I just enjoy whatever I see, because it’s a good change. I think the worst kind of traveller is like my father. When he travels he’s just finding a thing or two and then he’s complaining how that was horrible (food!) and how our place is so much better. I don’t do that. I recommend you not to do that.
  • Tell us a secret about your home country/city we might not know… The secret is very simple. The secret is nothing to talk about, but all to live, to experience it. And you might recognise that you didn’t have to travel across the world to get this realisation, that all of this was always in front of your nose and that is precisely the reason why you should travel across the world! I experience traveling as a state of alert awareness. Being alive with every single step I take. You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you? My recommendation is to have the least goals on your “must see” list and just enjoy the travel and observe yourself and your own reactions. I must tell you a secret. Two of my most spiritual insights happened when I (almost) missed the airplane connection. I was so shaken and stressed that I couldn’t think clearly. I guess I had a panic attack. Then the voice in my head told me, OK, I’ve probably missed the plane, it’s OK, I might have lost lots of money, but I am alright, I am not in danger. And I totally accepted the situation and with the acceptance also came the peace and the clear focus what is my next thing to do? I must tell you that although I was running through the underground stations I felt the vast peacefulness inside. When I took a seat on the train, I felt more peaceful than if I would be in my woodland.
  • Give us the elevator pitch: Why should we travel to your country (when we’re able to)?
    If you google Slovenia, you will see amazing breath-taking sceneries, from the Lake Bled and Bohinj, to mountains, sea, caves, lots of forests and even the capital of Ljubljana is justifyingly stealing lots of attention from other European capitals. Slovenia is really one of the greenest countries in the world, a home of 800 bears, about hundred wolves and lynx. In Slovenia there are many individuals who have a really genuine relationship with nature but they are not tourist guides. You will need some effort to find them, but you can surely find them. You may learn something from them by just observing them and observing yourself in the nature. Nature is the teacher, that teaches without words, it has no entry exams and give no grades. You might have a problem when you come back though, because all the stories and all the pictures will be feel like the cheapest souvenir you have ever see. Nothing to buy, all to live.
  • Anything we’ve missed? No, I think I was too long already. THank you for all the attention! Please edit out whatever you don’t find interesting or where I’m repeating myself. Thank you again for your attention, Borut

Written by Borut Peterlin

1 October, 2021 at 19:12

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Great…er, TopShit job Borut! I hope that I can visit your beutiful backyard some day. And if you ever fall into Texas, you already have a place to stay! 🙂
    TCavness

    Tom Cavness

    1 October, 2021 at 19:49

  2. […] « Featured in Conde Nast Traveler […]

    TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

    1 October, 2021 at 20:10


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