Mar 06, 2016

“Interview: Tatjana Ristanić”
- Sergey Poplevin , Interview

It seems that Serbia has become a land of shining talents lately. Famous admired footballers come from this country: Nemanja Vidić (former Manchester United centre-back), Branislav Ivanović (Chelsea), Alexandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Nemanja Matić (Chelsea). One of the best tennis players – Novak Djoković. And also a great number of talented photographers. We were lucky to interview one of such professionals. A photographer who started her career not so long ago, but has already achieved great success and produced works of amazing quality, duly appreciated by Stocksy United. With joy and excitement we present Tatjana Ristanić.

Hi, Tatjana! In the first place, we would like to ask for some facts about you. Where are you from? Where did you study and how come you decided to become a photographer? You can write as much as you wish because we think that you are a very interesting person and it would be nice to get to know you better. 

Hi! My name is Tatjana. I spent my childhood in a beautiful small town of Vršac. When I started college, I moved to Belgrade. I've been living in Belgrade for the last 10 years. 

I graduated as Master of Engineering in Architecture at University of Belgrade. I worked almost two years as a Teaching Associate at the Faculty of Architecture. I also worked on several projects. I participated in competitions, both architectural and design, and for some of them, I received special awards and prizes. I started to deal with photography about 3 years ago. After a few months, as a self-taught photographer, due to love for healthy lifestyle and photography, I turned into the profession. 

Tell us, please, why did you decide to come into stock photography? How did you find out about it? Why Stocksy? 

I decided to come into stock photography because it gives me the opportunity to choose what I want to photograph. Stocksy is different from other stock agencies. There are so many talented and inspiring photographers. I love the style and quality of Stocksy photos. Also, Stocksy gives me the freedom to express my creativity on my own way. 

You speak English very well! How does it influence your stock business? Is it really important to know this language to succeed? Do you use it just in keywording or is there something else? Maybe you need it for communicating with editors or colleagues, reading useful articles and so on. 

Yes, it’s very important. It’s necessary for understanding articles, rather than keywording. I think it's important for learning because, almost every book, every article you can find is in English. 

In your collection there are numerous food images. How much time does it usually take to prepare such beautiful compositions and meals? 

It doesn’t take much time to prepare a meal, except when I make cakes :) . But, the hardest thing is planning the shooting, founding props for the exact shooting and thinking about the story I want to tell. 

For stock photographers planning is one of the most important things. How do you plan shootings? Do you have long-term planning on future shooting subjects? Maybe monthly plans or even annual ones?

Yes, you have to be prepared beforehand for each season. I start my year with a basic annual plan. Then I make a plan for the next season and after that a plan for the next month. Every week I make a plan for the next week with all the details of a shooting. But, when I start shooting I let my imagination take over and I always go beyond the set borders.

You talked about planning. Even yearly, monthly and for every shooting, right? Well, what is a year plan for you? Do you plan the specific dishes you will do or cuisines? Does it depend on the season? About monthly planning, what is the main difference between monthly and yearly plans. And another thing we are interested in – the plan for a shooting. For us - almost lifestyle shooters, it is clear how to plan a shooting of people in different situations, but what about food? It is harder to understand what the plan should look like - angles, compositions... 

My annual plan represents goals for the following year. I write what themes I have to do for each season, in general. Then I make a monthly plan with more details and with a whole number of dishes I want to shoot for that month. The season is very important when you are a food photographer. I shoot dishes made from the ingredients I can buy from local markets. A weekly plan is a list with all the dishes I’m going to shoot and all the details (recipes, props, backgrounds). I think about what I want to get and then try to find everything I need. When I have everything I need for the shooting, I turn it into reality. Sometimes, I draw compositions and angles I want to shoot. I finish almost every shooting with a few images that occurred spontaneously. 

Many people think that food photographers use lots of chemical stuff to make food look beautiful on images they take. Do you use any chemicals or are there any secrets to make your food look better or you shoot it just like that? 

No, I don’t use any chemicals in my shots. The accent is always on their own naturalness. And, you can always eat it after a shooting. 

Your food images look awesome. We get hungry every time after looking at your portfolio. Is cooking your hobby or do you cooperate with food industry professionals. Maybe chefs or food stylists. 

Cooking is, for sure, my hobby. I do everything by myself from cooking to creating all my compositions. Sometimes, I buy some parts of a dish in order to make food preparation faster. 

Did you ever attend any culinary courses or workshops or you just have a talent for cooking? 

No, I haven't attended any culinary courses. 

Do you use any recipes or everything comes from your head? If you use recipes where do you take them from? Books, the Web? 

Sometimes, I take them from a book, sometimes from a blog and sometimes from the restaurants I have been to. I always try to change something and use recipes as an inspiration. I follow many food bloggers and chefs and I have also made quite a few dishes from my head. 

Do you shoot a lot of raws and then select the best, or you prepare a shot till the end and only after it is looking great press on shutter once or twice and as a result avoid selection of images for retouching? If you do many shots and then select the best, tell us more about the most important thing that influences your choice. 

The theme determines the number of compositions and angles. I prepare everything for the composition/s and when I’m satisfied, I make a few shots. After that, I go a step further and try to make something new and different, that haven’t been planned at the beginning. 

What do you do with all those tasty things after the shooting? 

I enjoy an exquisite meal :). 

Tell us, please, how and where do you get your inspiration? Are you a fan of any photography gurus? What about cinema, literature, music? 

I get my inspiration from everything around me. Sometimes, it’s a movie I have watched and sometimes it’s some material I want to use in my photos. Occasionally, I find inspiration in shapes of things I want to shoot. I like to play with textures, colors and shapes. 

Inspiring photographers for me are Keiko Oikawa, David Loftus, Natalia Drepina, Annie Leibovitz, and many others. 

I am a big fan of cinematography. Watching movies is one of my favorite hobbies. Pan’s Labyrinth is maybe one of my favorite movies and Tim Burton’s work is one of the most amazing for me. These days I enjoy listening to new wave. I’m a big fan of books on philosophy and astronomy. 

Do you have a team or are you a lone knight? If yes – what do they do. If not - why? 

I work as an individual. I do everything by myself.
Sometimes, if the shooting is too demanding, I have extra help from my boyfriend as an assistant. 

What do you do apart from photography. Do you have any hobbies? Tell us more, if you don’t mind. 

I’m a big fan of movies. I watch almost one movie a day and read about them. Also, I read a lot about space and watch every documentary I find on the subject. That really relaxes me. I occasionally play tennis and chess. 

To sum it up, give a few recommendations for those, who are just starting their journey in stock and food photography. 

I believe that it is necessary to always be who you are, to learn a lot, to follow your feelings and to create your own unique style. To be true to yourself and believe in what you do and the result will come. 

Thank you!

Thank you Tatjana! We also wish you all the best in your business, we hope to see a lot of new images from you. And of course we wish you good health! We believe it is the most important thing in the world. Be healthy and you will go very far!