If It Weren’t For Granny, I Wouldn’t Be Here
At the age of 16, Martin Stamenkovic became the best young photographer in the world!
Dear Martin, have you fully come to terms with the fact that you are the best teenaged photographer in the world? What do you think the jury liked the most in the winning photo „The Brother“?
I am still not fully aware I am the best teenaged photographer on this beautiful planet of ours, the feeling is amazing when you earn such a title. I could not tell what it was that they liked the most in my photo, but I can tell you one thing for sure: I try very hard for my photos to have something unique, because that is the only way to be noticed.
The competition was held in Luxembourg. How did you find out about it, and what was the atmosphere like?
Actually, I am traveling to Luxembourg soon to recieve the award, so I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere. My mentors from the photo club in Cacak let me know there was a teenage international competition and that I should apply. I sent them four photos, out of which two were chosen for the final round, and „The Brother“ photo was the winning one. Although I don’t know the exact number of other applicants, I am sure there was a huge number of them.
You mentioned you didn’t quite like the winning photo. Is the reason for that the fact that it was taken with a mobile phone, or was there another reason?
I simply consider there were much better photos than that one. But „The Brother“ photo has some unique magic regardless of the fact it was taken with a mobile phone. I love each and every photo I take, they are all special in a way.
When did you start to explore photography in a serious way? Were your first photos portraits or a mixure of different things around you?
I started with more serious photography this spring. Before that, I simply used my phone and published all my photos on my Instagram account. First, those were things like power lines, different kinds of herbs, trees, and sunsets. When I got my first camera, then I realised the significance of it and I started taking human portraits. Whenever I like a flower, a tree, or a scene from nature, I still take a picture of that because botanics is my passion. Today, I publish all of my photos at an Instagram account called @_artsstation_ , where I have about 12.000 followers.
It seems that if it weren’t for your granny your story would be entirely different. What camera do you use, and does the rest of your family support you as she does, or do they perhaps think photography should be just a hobby?
My grandmother made the whole story develop faster, because my parents thought it was just a childish phase, and they were not so eager to spend money on something that might not last for that long. My granny was the first one to realise that my photography was much more than a short term pleasure, and she gave me a surprise by buying me a Canon 700D as a present. Now that I think about the moment she gave it to me, it makes me cry. Nothing would be the same if it weren’t for her, because nobody takes you seriously when you take photos with a mobile phone camera. My parents were still a bit suspicious about the whole thing until they saw the rapid growth of my Instagram followers. I would like to study photography and dedicate my life to it. I would love to be a fashion photographer. I work very hard to make my dreams come true, and nobody can stop me from doing this. Even if my parents didn’t support me, I would still fight for what I believe in. I strive for excellence, and that is what pushes my boundaries.
When did you start to learn more about the technical details of photography, and how much have the people at the Photo Club Cacak helped you with this?
The people who have helped me a lot and invested so much effort in teaching me are Damir Buzurovic, Vojislav Pesterac, Zoran, and Raco. I have to admit I am very stubborn, and it is a true art to teach me something while avoiding argument. I would like to use this chance to say thank you to all of them. In the beginning I simply absorbed their advice and knowledge. Vojislav Pesterac is the president of the photo club, and it was his idea to send the winning photo to the contest in Luxembourg. I thank him for that. My very good friend, Milica Djokovic, is also a member of the club, and she was the one who has helped me very much, too, by giving me a lot of advice regarding both photography and life.
Why do you like taking pictures of human portraits the most?
I wish to show people how much beauty is out there that we often are unable to see. We are all so pretty in a way, but that beauty is invisible to many of us. For example, a lot of people think freckled girls are not so attractive, while I believe they are one of the masterpieces of humankind. Albino persons also – so many of them have issues about how they look, but if any of them is reading this now, I want you to know you are the most gorgeous people in the world. Every look has an emotion. I love everything that is different and that attracts attention, but I am also aware of the fact that prejudices don’t give enough space to the unique ones. I say – Thank you for being here!
The winning photo was taken spontaneously. What do you think is better, taking a photo like this, or composing portraits that take a lot of time to make?
It depends on personal taste. My goal will be to change the fashion world and to be known as a photographer who promotes human beauty. I don’t like spontaneity, because I am not spontaneous. I believe everything happens for a reason. I imagine a photo in my head and then I take it at a specific location to stress the strengths of the model.
Would you like to study abroad, and why?
I would like to improve my skills in cities like New York, Stockholm, or Amsterdam. I like their way of thinking, the fact that they pay a lot of attention to art. I especially love the fact that they raise awareness about the planet and ecological issues. I am a huge advocate of this subject. The problem is that ecological awareness is not so much developed in my country, in Serbia, so I can not do much about it here. Anyway, I have two more years to make a final decision. The more I think about it, I believe the Netherlands would be a perfect choice.
Do you have role models, and is there an artist you would like to cooperate with?
I love Instagram photography, and I would like to mention Suncica and Jovana Rikalo. No, I don’t have role models, because I think every artist should have his own style. Having a role model in the photo world means doing something already seen. I prefer to be unique.
What is crucial for making a stunning photo?
I believe you need an incredibly original idea and a model. The model is equally as important as everything else. Whatever is unique about it, I will try to show it in the photo.