I came across Jaka by pure accident surfing the web. He had an amazing body of work which got me thinking as to how he got started.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jaka Babnik, I am 31 years old and I come from Slovenia, a country with population of 2 million, located between Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Adriatic see.
What made you get into photography?
Skateboarding. I started skateboarding when I was 12 years old and than in 1996 my father bought me my first camera, Minolta 3xi.
How did you get started?
At first it was just shooting photos of my friends dong tricks, but with time the circle grew and when I was 18 years old I started working as a photographer for a local skateboard magazine. And with years that job grew to cinematographer/ editor/photographer/team manager so basically for 10 years all I shoot photos of was skateboarders. And that was more than enough, so in 2006 we, together with a friend, a graphic designer, started our own magazine that was focused of street culture. So we were doing that for a few years, but that the recession came and we were just not able to find enough adverts to keep it going. And today I work as a freelance photographer.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
For many years it was strictly skateboarding, but today my photography consists of personal work that includes social aspects of life, from portraits to so called “street photography” and professional work that includes variety of photographic fields, from theater photography, portraits of musicians, sometimes covering events and some table top work here and there. Slovenia is a small country with a limited market for photography, so you have to be versatile to make your ends meet.
What gear are you using?
I still have problem adapting to digital, so for my personal work I still use Leica M6 and Hasselblad 501CM with 30, 60 and 100 lenses. And my digital system consists of Canon 5D MkII, 15, 24-70/2,8 and 70-200/2,8 lenses. Plus different Metz, Nikon and Canon flashes.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
For many years it was Distagon 3,5/30 CFi fish-eye for Hasselblad (I am actually selling it, so feel free to e-mail me if interested), but lately it is 35/2 Summicron on Leica and 100 CFi on Hasselblad. But that might change in the near future since I am looking to buy used 50 and 120 macro CFi lenses. And as far as digital goes, I had a chance to test Canon’s 85/1,2 II not so long ago and I must say that it was for the first time working with digital SLR felt right, so in the future I will be after those prime lenses.
How are you marketing yourself?
As I already mentioned, I come from a small country, so my so-called marketing might sound a bit different from some of the answers in your previous interviews. Here it has a lot to do with continuity since we all more or less know each other, so every move counts. I try to work with right people/publications/institutions, I have my own web site at www.jakababnik.com, my art work is presented by Galerija Fotografija, I enter different photo competitions, plus there is always some pro bono work.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
For me that is something illusive. Something you are after the whole time. And I might have gotten it a few times around. But when you get it, it doesn’t feel that way, so I just keep on going.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Uf. This is a hard one. Be patient, respectful and develop a high level of self-criticism. And as H. C. Bresson once said to Josef Koudelka: “Protect your eye”.
Visit Jaka Babnik Photogarphy – website