It’s been a while since I had enough time to write what’s been going on. Here it is. After Slovenia Press Photo record things went heywire. And in the mean time, I actually found time to join my parents on a trip to Corsica and Sardinia, which is where the photos in this blog are from. But anyway, after the awards, I was happy to see all the media coverage regarding Barbara’s story, because it was exactly what I wished for. I knew media exposure would grant the story the success that I wanted. The story needed exposure because I knew it needed massive support for what was to come. In fact, in the best possible scenario that I had for the story, winning Slovenia Press Photo was the stepping stone towards the final goal – helping Barbara and her family. I stuck to the plan and contacted Tednik, the program that frequently arranges help for people in their reports. We filmed it, broadcasted it, and I was surprised at how many people responded.
Eventually, we gathered 20,479 eur! A huge ammount. And I was happy. My plan worked. It was probably one of the happiest times in my life. When we were filming the report for Tednik, I was a part of the story. My friendship with Barbara and my wish to help her family. I’m not yet comfortable being in front of the camera, but this was easy. As long as I know it’s all about someone else, someone who’ll benefit from me being in front of the camera, I can do it. But not long after, the focus shifted. To me. I got shortlisted for the job of a lifestyle photographer at Best Jobs Australia, something I thought couldn’t happen, but it did. And all of a sudden I was the news.
I never speak about myself or my achievements. In fact, I don’t feel comfortable doing that, because I just want to get things done. I want people related to my work, whether through stories or in any other way, achieve something or benefit from it, but I don’t ask anything in return. Of course. So it was kind of strange talking about myself and speaking in first person all the time. The media rushed in and all of a sudden I got overwhelmed with public support, media exposure etc. It was touching to see so many people supporting me. I cannot describe my appreciation. Probably a remnant from my past, when I always felt I was sort of left behind. But it was also as if someone threw me in the water to teach me how to swim. And I’m not talking about communicating with the media. It was talking about myself that was the biggest problem, because I never ever do that.
However, things calmed down right before I left for Corsica and Sardinia. We went by bus, first to Livorno, Italy, where we boarded a ferry and spend five hours trying to stay awake. I am very sensitive about ferries. My brain feels every wave, every motion of the ferry, as gentle as it may be. And it manifests as … well, it’s like I was drunk. Or very sleepy.
We started in Corsica. What a beautiful, mountainous island! It even looked great in rain. But what I loved the most was the air. It had a scent of flowers everywhere. Totally awesome. And weird strokes of luck just kept coming. The first such nice story happened on a terribly rainy day in a small town of Corte in the middle of Corsica. Before leaving we went to a small pub. But first some background. My parents are diehard fans of a German TV show Alarm für Cobra 11. Watching the show is a daily routine. But nevertheless, when my mom tells me the guy sitting at the table in the bar is an actor from the show … well, how am I supposed to believe that? Honestly, come on. What are the chances. I though it was just another case of my 53 year old mother jumping to conclusions. And my dad just said: “Yeah, that’s him.” Typical.
I did hear the people at that table speak German, and my mom kept insisting long enough that I decided to ask him. It turns out, they were right. It was Niels Kurvin who plays a forensic in the show. He was on a vacation. We spoke some more, I took their picture and off we were. Corsica is probably the wildest, greenest place I’ve ever been to. But what totally blew my mind was Bonifacio. By far the highlight of the trip was this amazing old city built on chalk-white limestone, but it’s on the coast that’s being erroded by the sea. So a great portion of the town is actually situated on an overhang. The soft limestone rock is breaking all the time and it’s only a matter of time when the ground beneath those houses gives way and everything tumbles into the Meditterranean sea.
The views are awesome. A scenic harbor, the majestic city walls, the cliffs and sea-filled caves… It’s just amazing. We took a boat tour along the coast. The weather wasn’t very good. Waves were a bit high and the wind was cold, but I loved it. And from there, we took a ferry to Sardinia and spent a few days there. Another beautiful island. I’m kind of a sucker for beautiful beaches and emerald sea, so Sardinia was right up my alley. But amazingly, it wasn’t the Costa Smeralda that impressed me most. It was Alghero, a coastal town with it’s defence walls and narrow streets.
The final attraction of the trip was actually a hotel in Olbia. Shaped like a ship’s hull with a hollow inside and rooms arranged elyptically around a common area, sort of like in large prisons where inmates walk out of the cell and overlook the common area below. Incredibly beautifully designed and equpped. Really cool. Although at first it didn’t look good. It’s actually situated next to railroad tracks, surrounded by out-of-use carts and tracks.
When I got home things picked up again. It was time to get some endorsements for my best job application and my Nina helped me with that. It was a pretty busy time, calling around, mailing, driving around, and eventually, we got some really nice personalities to endorse my application. It wasn’t difficult, everybody wants to see me go to Australia. Photographers even more so, because that way, they joke, they would have at least a chance to win any photojournalism award in Slovenia. Anyway, the first referee was my editor at national Geographic Junior, the magazine I love working for (and have been working for for 10 years), because of the highly professional staff. And since every one of them was a bit funny, Irena said the Aussies can only borrow me for six months. The second referee was Alya, a rock singer who I’m a big fan of and she first dedicated a song for me at a concert as an endorsement. I love that song. But we did the official endorsement later in a radio studio. That was funny! She was joined by Denis Avdić, our popular radio host from Radio 1. The third refereee was Benka Pulko, Slovenenian Guinness world record holder for the longest solo motorcycle ride around the world, but most of all, my dear friend. To rephrase her words: she worked with me on two world events no photojournalist would ever want to come close to messing up. Interview with Dalai Lama and her wedding. Damn right! She – like me – does not tolerate sloppiness or incompetence. The final referee was Luka Špik, Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medalist in double sculls with Iztok Čop. What a great guy. We estimated to be done with the endorsement video in less than half an hour and we ended up talking on the pier in Bled for two hours. In the video, he tells Aussies he’s simply goint to bring me to Melbourne and he jumps in a boat, I follow him, we wave and that’s it. Well, we could’ve untied the boat first but then the video would probably end up in the “epic fail” compilation. With my luck I’d probably crash in the cold lake.
Social media played an enormous role here as well. I’ve never seen so much support for anything that I’ve done before. People really wish me best and it’s an amazing feeling. Like I said, I’m not used to it. So I honestly do not know how to thank everybody enough. I really appreciate their support and their hopes for me getting that job. And even if I don’t get it, this whole experience gave me soooo much!
So now we wait. And rest a little. Who knows what the future brings.