January 16, 2018
Hello Dino and welcome! Please introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography and how your full time profession effects your photography work.
“Hey I’m Dino Kuznik and I’m from Slovenia, Europe. I have been living in the US for about 5 years, first in San Francisco and now in New York. I work as a graphic designer in Manhattan but spend most of my free time photographing, more so for myself and my personal projects/travels than anything else. I do some gigs on the side here and there.
I think that my profession as a graphic designer affects my image making. So I kind of “design” an image so to speak – of course not every photograph, but I think it shows in a lot of my photographs. I take quite a few photos of vintage scenes and I think being born in the late 80s and growing up in early 90s has had a visual and musical effect on me. Road trips mostly on the American west, really attract me, but when I am in the City, a lot of times I search for interesting urban landscapes or subjects because doing so really de-stresses me and it gives me focus. So that is why I photograph whenever I can and travel toward creating a series or to document the surroundings that attract me.
My grandfather was an amateur photographer and still shot on film when I was growing up. He also had a huge collection of National Geographic magazines from the 60s onwards. We used to spend like an eternity watching the photos in the magazines. I was always shooting on holidays when little, but that wasn’t really my priority back then. I actually really into photography when I got a digital camera for the first year of college. I would be shooting everybody and everything all the time – so my roommate probably hated me:) Shortly after I actually got a student job as a studio assistant, journalistic photographer, and retoucher. So from there it kind of grew and morphed into what I do now. So I have been in photography for about almost 10 years, but only until I would say 3 years I am doing it in a direction and way I like.”
Could you elaborate and talk about how these 3 years you’re finally doing and taking photos in the direction you like? Is it the subject matters that you like to shoot? Also what kind of camera do you use, film or digital?
“When I moved to California, we would always go on road trips. I was always taking photos on these trips and I think from that it kind of evolved into what it is right now. Before that I did a lot of stiles and I was kind of all over the place to be honest.
Also I was wandering around San Franciso a lot, first to shoot street but then I kind of started to get interested in empty spaces and started noticing things I would usually miss. So this walks around town and a lot of traveling organically evolved my way of seeing and shooting. I never really though about it tbh, it just evolved from shooting a lot.
I have a bunch of film cameras, but I mostly use a Pentax 67. I also love the Ricoh GR1s, Leica M6 and the medium format point and shoot Fuji GA645Zi. I recently bought a Nikon D850 (before Nikon D750) for the gigs I get on the side. But for the most part I shoot on film yes.”
What photographers are you influenced by?
“I definitely got inspired by a lot of photographers, so yeah some of my work definitely has that. But I would say mostly the street photography I do. The inspiration are especially Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Martin Parr, Alwx Webb.
I also very much like the works of Todd Hido, Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Vivian Sassen, Joel Meyerowitz and manny more. There’s also so many good photographers on Instagram these days, to name I few I follow regularly Coddy Cobb, Reuben Wu, Hayley Eichenbaum, George Byrne, and many more.”
If you had to choose your number one place to visit and shoot, where would that be?
“I really like Arizona visually, but California would have to be my top pick, as it just have so much to offer, not only visually. I hope to move back in the future. But I still have some states on my radar that I want to go to in the short future, like New Mexico, Utah, Michigan and so on.”
What is it about California that beats Arizona for you? Do you usually prefer shooting dry landscapes, like the desert, or places like Arizona/Texas?
“It’s has probably something to do with me living there for a good amount of time. I have found memories of that time, although I would probably never move back to San Francisco, I do see myself living in Los Angeles in the future.
Yes the desert and desolate landscapes are very attractive to me. So that’s why I keep returning to the American West. I think that will change in the future, when I oversaturate myself with that aesthetic, but for now I really like it. Hopefully I do a New Mexico road-trip and series soon.”
I want to ask you about this particular photo that you took. Could you explain the idea behind this shot and why you took it with the stop sign? There’s another photo that shows people taking pictures of the rock without the STOP sign, what made you want to shoot this scene with it?
“This photo was taken on my trip to Arizona last year. I parked my car at the visitor center there and saw this scene when I walked out. I always like layered images – elements in the foreground that form a visually compelling composition with the background, and this image is a good representation of that. The stop sign separates not only the background and foreground visually but also in more contextual manner.
The red stop sign brakes the lovely and typical American landscape … it is immediately noticed. You can apply this visual analogy to a lot of subjects in real life … but instead of doing a visual analysis, I rather just leave that to the viewer.
You know I usually take quite a few shots of a scene that I like. That shot with people in the scene was taken, when I was waiting for people to clear out out of it. But I usually like empty spaces more, hence the wait.”
Congratulations on being put on the short list for the Sony Awards, could you talk about what this experience was like for you?
“Thank you! I was super happy for the shortlist. It was a much needed confirmation that I am doing something right (I am usually very critical and if I spend a lot of time with my work, I eventually start thinking it is shit). It was amazing to have my work exhibited alongside one of my all time favorite photographers Martin Parr and so many other great artist that partook in the competition. Just insane.”
Any photography projects/series you are working on currently, or upcoming?
“I am working on 2-3 projects, and putting together work from previous years. I will be lunching my website soon, so expect to see some new/old stuff on there. I am also in the stages of planning on where to go in 2018 … I still want to build my American west portfolio with a couple of trips to California, New Mexico, etc. I also have a few other, a bit different ideas I want to realize (whole book of them tbh – as I write every idea down … even if I have it at 3AM in the morning), which divert a bit from my usual style. But it’s too soon to talk about that, as it is just an idea. For now.”
Thank you Dino for this great opportunity to talk to you. BTW I’m sure a lot of people are wondering the same thing about something which is – Any plans for a photo book in the future? Or perhaps prints of your work?
“I do want to make a book in the future, but I am very meticulous about my work and what to show, so that may take a while.
I will be unveiling my updated website soon and with that I will also be offering some limited edition prints yes. Stay tuned. Thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed your questions and answering them!”