Here I am again, and this is the third interview in a row. Yes, I know, I could be a journalist. 🙂
Today, I have in front of my microphone (or keyboard) Gašper Lešnik, my longtime photographic Instagram colleague who specializes in photojournalism. I really like his journalistic photos because they are truly in the center of the action. When I look at them, I feel like I’m really there. Wow!
So let’s go!
Gašper’s Journey as a professional photographer: from films to the digital age
You can find Gašper Lešnik here:
Hi Gašper, how long have you been working as a photographer now?
I encountered photography for the first time in elementary school. Usually, on school trips, I took photos of my classmates, nature, animals, and something else. In 2000, I bought my first serious Nikon F65 SLR camera. I was still a pure beginner; I was interested in everything. Nature, people, animals, flowers, and sunsets Unlike today, back then, when we worked with films, we were limited by the exposures on the camera (24 or 36).
Since we were limited by the number of films at that time, we considered each time individually whether the thing was worth filming or not. Today, things are done faster, and we don’t always pay attention to the number of shots because digital photography offers us an almost unlimited number of shots.
In 2003, I enrolled in NYI’s Complete Course in Professional Photography via distance learning and completed it in 2005. I could mention the very serious beginnings in 2009 when I enrolled at the Faculty of Applied Sciences (VIST) in Photography, 1st cycle (Bachelor Degree).
Since 2012, I have been following socio-political events and collaborating with the weekly magazine Mladina. I also publish in other magazines, newspapers, and books. I was noticed by the Slovene Association of Journalists in Slovenia, where in 2020 I was awarded the Watchdog Award for journalism.
What inspired you to become a photographer? What were your first steps?
My inspiration or role model was a local photographer; unfortunately, he has already passed away. He worked in the field of photojournalism, the field of photography that is closest to me. I enjoy journalistic photography and street photography as well. As I said, I encountered photography already in elementary school; whenever there was an opportunity, I always took my father’s camera with me. He also always explained to me how to operate the camera, how to change the film, what to pay attention to, and how to make the picture.
Are you a professional or an amateur photographer?
I have been a professional photographer in the field of journalistic photography since 2012, but I also work in the field of street photography. I cover press conferences and interviews, and most often I take part in protests. I would like to highlight two difficult and dangerous ones. The first happened on November 5, 2020.
and the second, also very “interesting”, was on October 5, 2021.
Both were anti-government in the beginning and very peaceful, but later they turned restless and unpredictable. The main reasons were disagreement with the work of the government and anti-coronavirus measures, as well as protests that also took place elsewhere in the world.
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
I don’t have a favorite motif, but I always try to look for interesting motifs with a message, something that catches the eye of the observer, for example, at protests. It’s not just about the motives of the protests. You can find interesting things everywhere, both on the street and in nature. I just love to take photos; I love to live for photography.
What kit do you shoot with?
I use Canon equipment.
How would you define your photographic style?
I don’t have a favorite photography style. In the field of photojournalism and journalistic photography, I avoid excessive color interventions without filters. Such photos must speak for themselves and be made as they are, without manipulation. But it is true that in some dramatic events at protests, I sometimes use darker tones to emphasize the drama and the tension.
In the field of street photography, I can afford a bit more post-production, and I like to work there in a film style and use film colors and tonality. I like street photography to look like a movie scene.
Which editing software do you usually use?
Years ago, I used Adobe Photoshop to process photos, but now I’ve been using Lightroom for some time, mainly because of transparency, selection, and final processing. Working with Lightroom is much faster and easier, which is known for a time, which is never enough, especially when I’m chasing a photo submission deadline.
John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
In my case or in the field of photography, which I am primarily concerned with, the matter takes place through communication with the photo editor or magazine editors, but most of the time I learn about events from the media. Recently, however, I occasionally covered social events or interviews, in which case clients contacted me either by phone, e-mail, or via social networks.
How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working? What do you do in your free time?
I’m not a full-time photographer; I’m just a freelance photographer. I usually get a call from a photo editor or find out about events from the media or friends, but there are special events that require journalistic accreditation. I usually cover 3-5 events per week, which usually last 2–4 hours per event. Exceptionally, sometimes I also work a whole day, but this is during the period of elections and other international events, for example, a visit by a politician from another country.
What would you do differently if you would start again?
I probably would have focused on the field of photojournalism sooner; maybe I would have attended some additional photography courses; I would have established contacts with experienced photographers more quickly; and, as a result, I would have tackled the challenges of photojournalism sooner. I wouldn’t change anything about the rest.
A professional photographer is also an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have many things in common. They read a lot. What about you? What are your favorite books?
As much as I have spare time, I like to read various books in the field of photography and monographs of interesting photographs. I also like to read books in the field of the history of photography itself.
As for other books, I like to read books by local authors and, of course, also by foreign authors. But it usually depends on my mood; I read more on vacation. I don’t have a favorite book.
What was the best advice you have ever received as a photographer? Do you have any advice for other photographers?
I used to always hear comments that there is no money in this field of photography and that you will not get rich. But a professor at college once told me that it’s always good to be close to capturing the dynamics because that’s what can make a photo even better. And I still stick to that today, no matter if there is an “enraged” police officer or a protester nearby. Is there tear gas in the air or a water cannon nearby? I will always be there where the “action” is happening. But there is passion—some desire to try to change something, to move something—some apparent force that drives us not to give up.
You could say that the field of photojournalism is addictive; you want to keep going back again and again, no matter how dangerous it may be. It is precisely this danger—adrenaline—that makes us even more alive. And what advice would I give to other younger colleagues? First of all, they should get good shoes; as a photojournalist, you are in the field a lot. I would also add that they should observe a lot, because by observing, they can predict the course of events and avoid unpredictable situations. In other words, they should always try to be in the right place at the right moment to capture Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment”.
Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
- Banana Kong
- Toon Blast
Top 3 websites
Your last vacation?
Last summer in Greece, I found refreshing, calming, friendly people, and beautiful scenery. Endless inspiration for good photos
Explore the photo gallery from Gašper Lešnik.