The Life Of A Photographer: Nedim Slijepcevic

 

We are embarking on a new journey here at Art Of The Horse, to discover what makes artists tick, their careers and daily lives as creatives. Called ” The Life Of A _”, this month we are starting off with The Life Of A Photographer!

AOTH: Hello Nedim Slijepcevic! Would you tell us  where are you located, and where are you from?

NS: I currently reside in Richmond, Kentucky, near the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region. I am originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I immigrated to the United States 20 years ago.

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AOTH: What type of camera/equipment do you use?

NS: I mainly use a Canon system with 5D Mark IV as my primary camera body. My favorite lenses are: 16-35mm f/2.8L which I use for landscapes, 70-200 mm f/2.8L for everything equine (horse races and portraits), and 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L for the times I need to reach a little further to get that perfect horse shot. This setup works for me, and I can quickly execute the shot I need with any combination of the above without much thinking. I also use a medium format Mamiya 645, and a large-format 4×5 Tachihara paired with Ilford’s H5P B&W film for portrait and landscape photography.

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AOTH: How did you get involved with photography and horses?

NS: I was 13 when I got my first camera in 1989 while visiting Czechoslovakia. It was a Russian made “Smena.” I bought some film, took some shots, and tried to develop it at the photo store. The guy at the store told me that “there is something on the film,” but it was not correctly exposed, and that my prints would be poor. Way to crush a kid’s dream – I would have been fine with anything no matter how bad it looked. Soon the war-ravaged my country and lasted until 1995. I didn’t have the time or desire for photography until 2002 when I acquired one of the first digital cameras and started experimenting with the photography again.

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I discovered equine photography when I first moved to Kentucky in 2006. Before that, I was never really involved with horses, and my main focus was landscape photography. After exploring Eastern Kentucky, I started visiting Lexington, a “horse capital of the world”more often and became interested in horse racing and equine in general. About ten years ago, I visited one of the large horse farms where I got to interact with horses. I realized how beautiful and intelligent horses are and recognized their ability to create strong bonds with humans. I started photographing them more often, and over the years, I often found myself organizing photo trips and workshops that revolve around the horses. Equine photography is now a dominant force that guides my creative aspirations.

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AOTH: Any funny stories about your photographic adventures?

NS: Just this summer, my friend and I were visiting Wyoming and Montana to photograph Pryor mountains mustangs. I rented a 4×4 SUV in Billings, MO, that was better suited for the city streets than for the broken and rutted roads of the Pryors. We arrived at the base of the Pryors around 3 pm, which is generally too late as it takes 3 hours to get to the top. We took one of the three roads available, but unbeknown to us, that road was more suited for Jeeps and ATV’s and not for our city slicker rental. About 1.5 hours into the trip, we saw a jeep coming down the mountain, and a driver stopped to chat up with us. After some talk, he straight up told us “you’re not making it up to the top with that” while pointing at our SUV! He soon left, and my friend and I debated and decided to press on. About 20 minutes later, the road became pockmarked with craters and boulders, and my friend had to get out and guide me around the obstacles. At that moment, a local horse sightseeing outfit was coming down the mountain with their two jeeps, and the drivers gave us the stare that seemed to last for minutes. This look of disbelief was written all over their faces. As they passed us, my friend and I looked at each other, and we turned around and tried to climb the mountain the next day and to find a better road.

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AOTH: What is your most memorable experience with the horses? 

Last year I was visiting Horseworks Wyoming, a working horse, and cattle ranch in the Thermopolis area. It was getting late into a day, and I wanted to get some sunset shots with a group of 20-30 horses. The group was already riding into the sunset, so I had to run in front to keep myself positioned in-between the setting sun and the fast-moving horses. At one moment, one of the horses started walking towards me. He stopped in front of me and started sniffing me playfully while I stood there rubbing his head. He took off shortly after, and a few moments later, about 4-5 other horses began approaching me and did the same thing. I stopped photographing, and I savored the moment. Then the entire group surrounded me, and we started walking towards the sunset together. It lasted for a few seconds, and they quickly outpaced me and left me in the dust. But for one brief moment, I felt like I was a part of a heard. I know it sounds crazy, but I refer to it as “an experience” I had in Wyoming. My friend still gives me a hard time about it.

AOTH: Any advice for other photographers?

NS: I do not consider myself an expert, so I try to listen more and speak less when engaging with other photographers. My advice for beginners is to shoot often and practice post-production. Experiment a lot and follow through all “budding photographer phases” (HDR, filters, selective color, B&W, etc.).

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AOTH: Are you a full-time photographer?

NS: I am not a full-time photographer, yet. I do have a career in academia that is very important to me, so I am holding off on full-time photography. I am planning on retiring early, getting a Windstream, loading it with my camera gear, and then hit the road till the end.

AOTH: How far do you travel?

NS: I visited the West a lot, mainly Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona. Outer Banks, Nevada, and Colorado wild horse ranges are in play for the next 2-3 years. Next year I am planning on going to Bosnia to visit a wild Horse sanctuary in Livno as well.

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AOTH: What inspires you?

NS: I like horse unpredictability and playfulness. I also learned patience while photographing horses, and they made me a calmer and at peace. I owe these two betterments to them, and that sense of peace is what keeps calling me out to photograph them.

AOTH: What has been your favorite equine image?

NS: I am probably biased towards Wyoming and Montana’s Pryor Mountain Mustangs, so my favorite shot is of Irial and Oro. Irial is a stallion in his prime with a large band of 6-8 mares, while Oro is a young single stallion who was trying to steal a mare from Irial. The ensuing battle played out on the ridge some 100 feet in front of me. I took about 120 shots the one below stands out as my favorite.

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