Balkan Photo Festival and a selection of the best photo Balkan Photo Award are the legal heirs of the festival Photo of the Year BiH. Announcement of the winners and the complete program of the festival is traditionally held in Sarajevo, at the end of January. The festival consists of three programs: competition, education and connectivity photographer through socializing. The very concept of competition seems so every year on December 1, opening the period for application which runs until 31 December. This is followed by judging of works and preparation of the exhibition. Every last Monday in January is organized opening ceremony and announcement of the five winners of the categories, which also marks the beginning of the festival program. Venue Sarajevo. [Balkan Photo Festival]
Can you please introduce yourself for those who don’t know?
Primarly I am freelance photojournalist based in Sarajevo, looking for documentary stories most (www.hariscalkic.com). For many years I am also editor at photo community www.fotografija.ba and founder and director of Balkan Photo Festival (www.balkanphotofest.com)
Could you tell me a little bit about Balkan Photo festival and the team that stands behind it?
Balkan Photo Festival is wide open regional festival of photography. It is held in Sarajevo, every end of january when we gather lot of respected photographers from region. The team is small but efficient – the core of the team are Dejan Djuric and me. We try to promote photography and region also and to give a photographers a chance to gather new knowledges through lectures and workshops on festival and to gather new connections with professionals all around the Europe.
What motivated you to start a festival of photography?
It came spontaneusly, In some case of career you learn that connections matter the most. First we founded fotografija.ba as internet platform and photo community. Then we came with the idea of choosing best photos of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then Balkan Photo Festival. Motivation is to do something for greater good, for photography society and their status. To make connections with professionals and photography entushiast. That is the only way to improve yourself.
What is the secret of making a festival successful?
There is no big secret. Just work, work and much more work. You need to be in a same time a manager, promoter, curator etc. Sometimes it is hard to switch between those roles, but it is how it is. You need to have great organization skills to manage all of content and people, but that is also a matter of discipline and expirence which come with hard work.
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind program and exhibition curation?
At beginning of december we are opening a call for awards. Everyone can apply and send photos in many categories. The special jury is judging work and as a result we have final exhibition on award ceremony in Sarajevo City Hall. This year Grand prix award is Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and the jury chair is Myles Little, editor at Time Magazine. Besides that we always have a programs of workshop and lectures which is curated by our team.
Looking towards the future, how do you see photo festivals in general, and Balkan Photo festival specifically, evolving if at all – in terms of function and meaning?
Meaning is simple – a opportunity for phortographers to spend some time together and hang out. To connect and share experience, because these events are made for that. Second part is to open your festival to wide public, at least most of events (exhibitions, screenings) by popularizing photography you are giving some commercial value to your Festival which is important note in surviving. It is not sometimes elegant and nice, but that is reality.
What advice would you like to offer other artists that might help them learn to better promote their work?
They need to be persistent, and try to “kill” their ego which is not easy. If they are sure that their work is good, they need to send, contact as much stakeholders, clients, festivals, galleries as possible and be prepared to get much more rejecetions than acceptation. They also need to be real about their experience, refrences etc. As a Festival a lot of artists are sending us proposals. The main problem is that there is too much explanation, things are not clear and simple. There is too much good ideas, but good idea needs to be followed with hard work. My impression that they spent a too much time explaining idea, and not to work on it. Nobody wants to hear somebody excuses, all we need is a final product.
How would you sum up contemporary photography?
I am not so much in contemporary photography but I must admit like every else genre of photography – there are good and bad work. I think that future of photography in general is some good combination of classic documentary photography with note of contemporary.
Are there any future projects you are excited about and would like to share with us?
There are few projects, that we are going to develop, but all of them are related to festival. We are trying to make more open calls for various projects that would be shown at our festival, not only for main exhibition.
In closing, is there anything you would like to say about your Festival, partners or team?
I must say that I am very proud with our team and what we have accomplished. Clients like Canon or UNICEF recognized our value, and most important photographers and audience loves our festival and coming every year in Sarajevo. That is most important thing and value of Festival.