Maja Topčagić / Member Interview

My name is Maja Topčagić. I was born in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’m 25 years old and have graduated with a degree in mathematics and computer sciences. Also I am freelancing for Trevillion Images, and Stocksy United. I began taking photos when I was 19 years old and was given my first digital camera. I have never met the person who gave away his camera and sent it to me, but he changed my life. Since then, photography has become my greatest love. I find inspiration everywhere I go. I imagine moments frozen and captured by the camera. Also, I write down my dreams. Sometimes an idea bumps me in the head, but mostly I find inspiration looking at the world through my eyes. It’s often something interesting, weird and extraordinary. My work is inspired by movies, books, music, videos, ordinary people and conversations too. The fact is that I do not look at the world like others, I'm a mix of mathematics and art - as others assume. For me, mathematics is an art too. Everything that we see in nature, we can mathematically describe and write using photography. Math and art are soulmates, and using these very natural things for a human being we can describe our world and our mind. I use the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. I use a tripod, natural lightning and a remote control. Sometimes I use portable aluminium reflector. That’s all! Also, I love to experiment with analog/FD lenses, for example Helios 58mm f/2. This is an amazing little lens from Russia, that has crazy circular bokeh, amazing coloring and sharpness. I edit photographs in excellent Adobe Photoshop CS6. Programs for processing photos release a person’s creativity and allow you to be different from others. I love to compose several photos into one, or play with multiple layers. I do a lot of retouching, and I’m used to spending 10 hours or more in front of my computer editing photos. My dream is to study photography. My motto is 'If you dream about it long enough, it will come true.


Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina

What inspired you to become a photographer?

Beautiful things, people, places. Seeing the world through my eyes. Capturing moments in time.

Tell us about your first sale.

My very first real sale was for a book cover. I was so amazed that my photo end-ed up on a book that I couldn´t believe it. When I first saw it, I was really motivat-ed to keep on going, because there isn´t a thing that’s more beautiful than seeing your photograph on the cover. It will last forever and leave a trace, and that´s exactly what photographers long for. Leaving something behind.

Fast forward to today, you run a very successful photography business, tell us how that started.

My first DSLR was given and sent to me as a gift, by a person that I actually have not met! That was one of the most beautiful moments in my life; I finally could pursue my love for photography. Back then, I was taking photos with my mobile phone, Sony Ericsson k8ooi, and I would retouch them in Photoshop. Then my dream came true.

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

My proudest moment was when Canon Europe presented short documentary that they did about me and my work. After that, selling my photo to Adobe, and that Huffington Post NY, Daily Mail, Telegraph etc. featured my work.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

I applied to Photography at Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna back in 2012, and I didn´t get in. Now, I am glad because I feel it´s so better this way, being self taught and thinking outside the box.

Have you had an “I’ve made it moment”? Tell us about this.

I´ve felt kind of that way when Huffington Post NY, Daily Mail UK, Telegraph, Bored Panda and many other published my serie “Freckled”.

How do you balance a demanding photography career and your family?

I balance between working all the time, 24/7, and then taking a few days off to visit them. It´s hard, involves much traveling, and you are away from your loved ones, but I think everyone has to get use to it.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to the 21 year old you?

Follow your heart, and it will lead you to wonderful places.

What is the best photography business advice you have been given?

The most important thing is that you don’t need to have the best camera and a lot of lenses, it’s the e m o t i o n s that count. If you make an artwork, which will touch other people’s hearts, then you have succeeded. Follow your heart. Do what you love and love what you do. Because when you do what you love, you don´t have to work a single day in your life!

We live in a world of carbon copies, what advice can you give to those seeking to be unique and unlike others in a congested industry?

Find what you love and give yourself into it. Leave your touch in every single thing that you do. Make people know your work instantly, even when it doesn´t say your name.

Do you believe technology is making better photographers?

Yes, in a way. Technology is now available to all and made it more simple for us photographers. It has a “downside”, now everyone is a photographer. But that´s ok, if you´re really great, someone will notice you.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

I think people are lacking social skills, relating to other people. You have to know how to approach a person,a friend, a client… I think you can´t be just a photographer and do your job, you have to be a good person too. People see that.

Many folks are trying to re-invent themselves as photographers. Assuming you had camera, lens and lighting gear already. If you had to start over and only have $500 budget to get your business started. How would you spend that $500 budget?

I would invest my money to travel and earn more money while traveling from place to place, taking photos of people who are in need for photography services.

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