The image of rebellion 'Boogie' shows us his work with Leica cameras in Belgrade

Boogie began photographing rebellion and unrest during the civil war that devastated his country during the 1990s. Growing up in Belgrade, Serbia, and the ensuing conflict in the region defined his style and influenced his attraction to the darker sides of human experience.  

Since moving to New York City in 1998, he has published several photo monographs, shot for high profile clients, and his work has been featured in world renowned publications. He has exhibited in major cities all over the world. Boogie lives and works between Brooklyn and Belgrade and he shares his images about rebellion.

When did you first become interested in photography?

Both my father and my grandfather were amateur photographers, so I grew up surrounded by cameras. My dad always tried to get me into photography, explaining f-stops etc, but I was never interested. That all changed in the 90’s, when all hell broke loose in ex Yugoslavia (I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia). That’s when I started shooting, in the middle of chaos. The whole country became a huge ghetto, with gang shootouts on daily basis, twisted moral values, people starving just to name a few … I think I started shooting to distance myself from what was going on. When you are behind the camera, you are an observer, not a participant.

Serendipity: Being at the right place, at the right time. Do you think this is an accurate description of your photography? Or would you say you have to patiently look for the right picture until you find it?

Yes, there is always a little luck involved, but the fact is that you always have to be ready for it. I compare my kind of photography to martial arts, where you have to trained enough that you don’t think, just react. Thinking is the enemy. Sometimes I look for the right shot, but most of the time I just let it come to me, no pressure.

Your photos document the lives of people among what may seem chaotic situations, faces of dismay and discomfort. Can you share more of your background in Serbia, and how this influenced your career?

I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, and I can say that made me who I am. I started taking photos in the middle of crisis, during the dark days in Serbia, and I think it stuck with me. I think even if I photograph babies and puppies, the images will have dark overtones. When I arrived in New York, in 1998, being a Serb was a big disadvantage in general, because of the way the media portrayed us. but then turned into an advantage when I started hanging out in the ghetto. First, to those guys I didn’t sound like anyone they hated, because of my accent … second, being from a war thorn country, familiar with guns, I could really relate to them, and we simply clicked.

Talk about your new book, Belgrade Guide. What’s it about and what are its objectives?

No objectives, I don’t do that, I let my viewers decide and think whatever they want … Its just my view, my vision of Belgrade, very different than my first Belgrade book, BELGRADE BELONGS TO ME (powerHouse Books, 2009)

Out of the many images you have there, can you share a story or two that impacted you – and image that you remember vividly taking?

No particualr stories, those are just random street moments, except the gypsy kid on the cover that attacked me and almost kicked my ass 🙂

How was the curation process for a book like this one? Did you have collaborators as well?

Editing is very important, as important as the quality of images. You can have the best images and make a lousy photo book, … and do a decent book with a so so images. After putting out 8th photo monographs, I feel like I’ve honed my editing skills, but another pair of eyes always helps, thats where the New Moment (the publisher) guys were were helpful.

We started with over 500 possible images, then narrowed it down drastically. We printed out postcard size images, laid them on the floor, changing the order over and over again, eliminating some images, putting others in …. over and over again, it takes time.

Technically speaking, which Leica cameras did you use for the images included in this book?

Leica M7 and Leica M ( Typ 240) mostly.

Your first camera was an M7, how can you compare its performance (even though you shoot in film) with the Monochrom and the Leica M ( Typ 240)?

M7 feels like a handgun somehow 🙂 I love it. Beautiful object, amazing camera. There is also something magical about the Monochrom … for example I never convert color Leica M240 images into B&W, nope. I only use Monochrom for B&W shots, thats the rule.

Living between too cities, New York and Belgrade, must be a continual source of inspiration. How are you inspired by these two environments?

Both cities are very cinematic and yep, endless source of inspiration. BUt I really think it doesn’t really matter where you are, good shots are everywhere, you just need to see them. No need to chase after them.

You have over 70k users in your Instagram account. How do you think your audience relate to your images and statements? 

I just follow my heart, shooting what I see around me … I don’t try to moralize, telling people what to think, and I think people feel that.

Thank you Boogie!

To know more about Boogie, please visit his official website and follow him on Instagram.

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