Sumeja Tulic, b. 1985 from Sarajevo, Bosnia
Coming Up Strong: How did you get into photography?
Sumeja Tulic: Spontaneously. My friend gave me his mother’s old analog camera and I started fooling around with it.
CUS: Did you study, or are you currently studying, photography? If not, how did you learn?
ST: No. I never studied anything art related. I’m very sure that I have a long way ahead before I can be thought of as someone who learned it.
CUS: Tell us a little about where you live. How does your city/country/current location have an effect on your work?
ST: Well, I am Bosnian and I live in Sarajevo. Bosnia is known for the war that took place in the 1990s. Both my profession – human rights advocacy - and where I live have a profound impact on me. I try not to depict where I come from and what I do in my photographs. I think that shooting the heartbreaking issues that have unfold after the war require more skills and sensibility than I currently posses. I have a tiny heart.
CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
ST: I had noodles. Currently, I am staying in a hotel in Stockholm where they serve noodles for breakfast. I never have noodles for breakfast at home, so I am having it here.
CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?
CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?
ST: Many wonderful emerging photographers and good cinema.
CUS: Who are the people in your photographs?
ST: Usually my sister, my friends and strangers.
CUS: Your favorite subject to shoot?
ST: Lately I have developed a fascination with cracks and streams of water. There is something subtly erotic and profound to it.
CUS: Do you find that you take the same approach when shooting strangers vs. subjects you know?
ST: Well, I am not an expert and most of the shots happen without a preconceived outcome. With people I don’t know I need to be either fast or to summon up courage and ask them to pose. I wish I were more courageous, or less afraid of being rejected.
CUS: Coffee or tea?
ST: Definitely coffee. I never understood how some people do not drink coffee ever.
CUS: What are you favorite local hangouts?
ST: I don’t have one. I enjoy cafes frequented by the older, pensioner population. There, I feel like I am visiting a foreign place.
CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?
ST: I’m probably dependent on my phone and computer, but would definitely leave them behind in case of an emergency evacuation.
CUS: Who are your favorite photographers?
ST: I don’t have a favourite one, but a friend recently told me about Vivian Maier. It is not that her photographs or style overly takes me as much as her life story and her work together are so wonderful.
CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true? What are your thoughts on digital vs. film photography?
ST: Definitely, not everyone can photograph. Everyone can record the reality, but that is something different. My thoughts on digital vs. film photography are hardly innovative, so I would excuse myself from elaborating on this. I prefer the later.
CUS: What are your thoughts on photography and the Internet (for example, mass amounts of images being uploaded every day via sites such as Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…)?
ST: When you come from a culturally disadvantaged place, where major cultural institutions and art galleries are closed, the endless stream of photography on Internet is a sweet treat. Of course, you have to do so much of curating.
CUS: Do you think that the Internet (as opposed to a gallery or any other art institution) is a legitimate place to showcase photographic work or do photographs have to be seen in "the flesh" to be fully appreciated and experienced?
ST: These days, the concept of legitimacy itself is constantly challenged. When put in the art sphere it becomes even more challenged. I think that beautiful and striking photographs reach and influence the observer no matter what the medium for observation is.
CUS: What are your favourite books and films?
ST: I don’t have favorites. Currently, I am reading the Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. A good film that I recently saw was Jim Jarmusch’s Permanent Vacations.
CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?
ST: Eartha Kitt.
CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?
ST: Always have an extra roll of a film with you, and keep going to different places.
CUS: What are your plans for the winter? Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or exhibitions?
ST: My biggest plan for winter to find a suitable apartment to move into, and to have few days of doing nothing in bed. Other than that, I need to start working on my Iran project.
CUS: What do you hope to achieve with your photography? Do you foresee photography as a career in your future?
ST: I have no expectations with photography but to continue to enjoy it.
CUS: Our last interviewee, Samuel Bradley, wants to know: Why are you doing this interview?
ST: I love to be asked.
CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask the next interviewee?
ST: Where do you keep your rolls of film?