Blaž Kutin is an abstract photographer. He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he graduated in ethnology and sociology. For a while Blaž was a journalist and published writer, now he’s a filmmaker and photographer. Blaž Kutin wrote an award-winning screenplay “Lara” and directed a couple of short films and one feature film, “We’ve never been to Venice”. He currently lives in Berlin where he’s developing his next feature film and taking abstract photographs. It’s been a pleasure for us to take an interview with Blaž Kutin and learn some interesting facts of his biography. We wish you a pleasant reading and viewing of Blaž Kutin photography.
AP: Hi Blaž! Thank you for finding the time to give us an interview. It’s a great honor for us. We hope you will enjoy our questions we’ve prepared for you today. Could you please tell us what got you started?
Blaž: When I was 6 or 7 years old, my grandfather gave me a quick lesson in composition, then handed me his camera and I took my first picture. From then on, photography was always part of my life. But my first love was always film, so I was much more focused on that. Photography, however, was still part of the process – an element in the making of moving images. But a few years ago I started doing photography much more seriously and I have to say, compared to the long straining, often frustrating, process of putting your film together – which can include years of polishing the script while trying to get the finance – making art through still photography is a pure joy and a welcome relief.
AP: What a wonderful start! This is so great that you find photography a pure joy and relief. Do you have any formal education in photography or were you self-taught?
Blaž: I have no formal education in photography, and the same goes for film directing. In photography I rely on my eyes and my instinct to find meaning in unexpected places. It’s not so much about skill than it is about feeling. But if I notice that I suddenly lack a needed technical knowledge to do a picture that I want to do, I simply read about it and then try it on my own.
AP: I agree with you that relying on feelings is a good way to create nice photographs. By the way, what genre are your photos?
Blaž: I very quickly discovered that I feel most at home when doing abstractions. I’m most satisfied when pictures are completely detached from the context in which they were shot, when they are – in a sense – reinvented. I want them to communicate with the viewer on a very personal, even subconscious level. I can see a horse in a certain abstract picture, but someone else will see a house and the third person a battlefield. Sometimes they will see nothing specific, but it will trigger something and give them a certain feeling. In fact, that’s when I feel I succeeded the most. One has to put some work into it, open up, and I think it is very rewarding.
AP: That’s true that our imagination can draw any images when looking at abstract photography. Can your work be characterized as unique or unusual?
Blaž: I certainly hope my work is unique. If it’s not I’m afraid it would mean I’m not particularly successful as an artist. Everyone is unique by default, at least in some ways, and an artist should express himself honestly. I think that if an artist’s work is not considered very original, it most likely means that the artist wasn’t sincere enough while creating it. He was either hiding or imitating. That being said, I think my photography work somewhat borders on paintings. Or maybe I should put it this way: it is not so much determined by its medium but by the pictures themselves. Many people who looked at the prints didn’t think they’re photographs at all. I was pleased to hear that.
AP: When we saw your photographs for the first we also thought they were painted pictures. What inspired you to start working on the project “I was Here: Photographing memory – Disappearing faces of Berlin”?
Blaž: It happened spontaneously. Berlin is such a rich city when it comes to the things I’m after. When searching for my abstract motifs, many times I noticed all these faded, partly torn or washed away faces from old ads, looking at me from the walls as I passed by. I started thinking about memory and all the people from my past that I hardly remember or I have completely forgot by now. So these faded faces on the walls felt to me like a strong illustration of what is happening with my own – very selective – memory.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to take such pictures? Describe us a bit your creative process.
Blaž: I started with analogue, and I still use it occasionally. I have three analogue cameras, but it’s often very hard to manually focus because of strange positions of my subjects. For example, to photograph the top of a rusty construction container without climbing on it, I’m not able to look through the viewfinder and therefore manually focus. And then there’s also the question of scanning and resolution. So for practical reasons I now use, almost exclusively, a digital camera Sigma DP2 Merrill. It has a foveon sensor with enough resolution to make big prints, colour that often reminds me of certain film emulsions, and autofocus. It’s also quite small.
My creative process is very instinctive. I go around and look for something that would catch my eye. I usually find it where no one else would look, and if I see an interesting pattern, a composition, a small world in its own right, I take a couple of pictures – sometimes more to be sure. I’m quite quick. Then back at home I check which ones work and apply the necessary, very basic, post-processing, such as exposure, contrast, things like that. And if I don’t like a certain colour I won’t hesitate to change it. I have a very basic knowledge of my editing software, but luckily I don’t have to rely much on it.
AP: What is the formula for success in your activity?
Blaž: I don’t know if there’s a formula, apart from persevering. Recently, I exhibited at two art fairs, at The New Artist Fair in London and at Berliner liste in Berlin. I have three exhibitions lined up for next year; I’ll see where it goes from there.
AP: Who is one person you would like to see interviewed on AstrumPeople?
Blaž: It is hard to say, there are so many good artists around. I’m interested to hear from the ones with a strong individual style and expression, the ones – when it comes to photography – who are not attached to the documentary/photojournalist tradition.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Blaž: Of course! Rolanda is my partner, my collaborator, my muse and my best friend. She is with me in everything. We write together screenplays for my films, she was the producer and co-writer of my first feature film. She is the only person I completely trust, both in taste and reason. Without her I cannot imagine being an artist – there would be no point.
AP: This is so great that Rolanda supports you much! Tell us three lessons you believe are really important for every photographer?
- I believe everyone has to find their own principles, if needed.
- You have to learn from your own experience.
- I think that the only universal rule, the only necessity in creating art is honesty, which is in fact rarer and much harder than one might think.
Blaž, thank you so much for sharing such truly inspiring story! This is fantastic! Your abstract photography is gorgeous. We wish you continued inspiration, great success and many more creative ideas. To learn more about Blaž Kutin photography, please visit his personal website.
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