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iStock photographer Aleksandar Nakic tells us to look on the bright side

#RONASZN is in full effect and almost every industry has felt its brutal impact. Some creatives are using this extra free time in quarantine to work on projects but, not everyone is so fortunate. One example: professional photographers. Many have had to drastically change their process and come up with new ways to create content.

Though designers, freelancers and small businesses are still in need of creative assets, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find safe conditions for photographers to produce content. As this crisis wears on and the traditional avenues to commission their work continue to dry up, many photographers are wondering where their next paycheck will come from.

With so much uncertainty in the creative world, we wanted to seek the advice of veteran industry professionals. So, we spoke with Claudia Marks, Getty Images and iStock Senior Art Director, and Aleksander Nakic, an accomplished photographer and long-time iStock contributor.

The two creative professionals chopped it up with us and discussed the industry’s current state and what content creators can do moving forward. It is clearly an unprecedented time, but it’s always good to stay ahead of the game and this conversation provides some advice for what creatives can do to weather this troubling economic situation. 

Let’s push through 2020 together.  Check out the interview transcript below.

[Claudia Marks]:  When did you start taking pictures and when did you decide that creating imagery was something you wanted to do full time?

[Aleksandar Nakic]:  For as long as I can remember, I carried along a camera with me, although my first love was making short films about my family and everyday stuff.

“I switched to taking pictures later on and once I discovered stock photography, I realized that I can do it full time.”

[CM]:  What is your favorite subject to shoot?

[AN]:  I love to shoot different things and it’s interesting to explore the variety of human experience, although if I have to choose it would be real people doing real things. If I can approach a shoot like a photojournalist, I’m happy.


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[CM]:  How do you usually decide what to shoot next? / What do you plan to shoot next (either personal or for Getty Images/iStock)

[AN]:  I am always working on multiple shoots at one time and the decision on which one to shoot next depends on all sorts of unpredictable factors. Some shoots need a longer period of time before all the elements come into place (like the ballet school shoot) and during that time I have other shoot ideas stored in my head.

Some will go from idea to realization in a day or two.  But it’s usually a mostly spontaneous process for me because people are unpredictable. I plan to shoot some business concepts next, it’s something I’m not really good at and I’d like to explore the subject.


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[CM]:  How has growing up in Serbia influenced your work, has it affected your work in any way?

[AN]:  I’m really glad you asked me that question, especially now during the crisis we are all facing. Everything that we are seeing and feeling now ‑ empty store shelves, uncertainty and fear, my generation already experienced growing up in Serbia.

We were born just a couple of years before the 90s when our country went into war, economic depression, total anarchy, dictatorship and generally one really bad decade.

“During those uncertain times, we all stayed together, and we went back to basics.”


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I think I’m trying to find those sweet little moments in everything now in my life and work… And yes, the whole experience of growing up in Serbia during those times affected me more than I’d like to admit it. Actually, I think that most of us here try not to think about it. I mean, we were all sitting in our basements with bombs falling around us, just 20 years ago.

“We accepted all of it with humor and not because we tried to suppress it, but because we accepted it as something that had to be, and now that it’s over we can do anything, we can conquer the world.”

We already went through the worst. That’s why I always feel that we should focus on the positive and that’s the image I’d like to send out by making imagery. Of course, I know that life isn’t all smiles and vibrant colors, but it really doesn’t have to be gray. There’s good to come out of any situation.


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We already see many beautiful examples happening now, during the pandemic, to prove it.

[CM]: How has COVID-19 affected your work directly? What have you learned about your own creativity because of the potential space or resource limitations you’re now facing?

[AN]: My first couple of years on iStock and Getty, I worked only with my family and friends, making the most of the limited resources we had. And I loved it. Eventually, the equipment got better, there were more people involved, we shot in some really cool places.

But even then I tried to keep that workflow intimate and not use all of the resources that I could. I realized that by limiting myself, I can be more creative with less pressure. Along came COVID-19 and now there’s a real thing that limits our work. So, yeah, it affected me in a way that I now feel limited…

“But with limitation comes creative freedom.”


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[CM]: What advice would you give to photographers and other creatives looking for inspiration and ways to continue their craft while in quarantine?

[AN]: I have to say, for a change – it’s nice to be back to basics. There’s no “that next cool trip” that you HAVE to take, so you can make nice images. There’s no new camera coming up to market that you REALLY need.

There’s just you, maybe a couple of people in your house, your camera and whatever you can make out of it. For me, it made me slow down a lot. I think that we were all in a rush, for no particular reason.

And by slowing down, I started looking around and allowing myself to be really inspired. I’m probably shooting less, waiting for those special little moments.


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“My advice to other creatives would be to use this time, this moment that none of us really saw coming, to get back to why you fell in love with your craft in the first place.”

Finish your passion project, something that you never really had time for. And once this is all over, we can get out of it feeling more inspired and ready for whatever comes next.

[CM]: How have you been able to stay inspired during this time? Have you changed your typical subject matter?

[AN]: It’s been really easy. With a slower pace comes real presence. Those little moments when you are really there – playing with your kids or finishing that DIY project around your house, produce a vast amount of inspiration. My family’s height of the day is exploring nature, places we never been to around our own town.

“If you turn away from that phone and allow yourself to enjoy the moment, I bet you will also find a way to finish that project you’ve been struggling with.”

And yeah, turn off the news.


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I have to admit that, for the last couple of years, I have been trying to get out of my typical subject matter, which are family lifestyle and exploring topics that I’m not really good at.

It was something I needed to prove to myself. Now I’m with my kids throughout the day and I’m not sure how happy they are to see me back with my camera. But I’m happy to work with my favorite models.

[CM]: How do you think the Coronavirus will change the photography industry?

[AN]: I think that nobody really knows where we are headed. But I can talk about what I’m hoping for. Photography will reflect what goes on in the world and I really hope that we’ll be producing optimistic and vibrant images.

As a society, I can only hope that we are not going to be driven by fear. I’m hoping that we will use this experience to spend more time with our loved ones, to appreciate nature more than before, to make the most of our days and not to allow autocratic governments to compensate our freedom for our safety.


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I think that no matter what happens, the photography industry will be OK, people more than ever need imagery.

“But I really hope that in the future we’ll need images of people having unforgettable moments with their loved ones and not gloomy portraits under our protective masks.”


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I think it’s up to us.