Jadran Lazic, a famous photographer from the Balkans, who lives between the USA and Croatia, has visited Lustica Bay this summer to celebrate his 50th work anniversary as a globally renowned portrait photographer. We have held a fantastic exhibition in our Amphitheatre with numerous celebrities pictured on Jadran’s photos, followed by the one who visited on the spot.
JADRAN LAZIĆ INTERVIEW
Read our interview below with this enthusiastic gentleman, whose energy is so contagious, and the time flies when you listen to his stories! We have no surprise that many loved posing to his camera!
LB team: So, how is living between 2 continents?
Jadran: I live in Los Angeles but, I have a home on island Hvar in Croatia. I stay there every year for about three months. I enjoy both sides of the ocean.
LB team: And this year visit is distinct, as you celebrate a grand jubilee… 50 years of work!
Jadran: Actually, it is 52. But I rounded it on 50, so it sounds better! (laugh)
LB team: And how it all started?
Jadran: My career started in the beautiful city of Split. My father, who worked for the navy, used to work at the Galeb ship, and his hobby was photography. He passed on his affection to me. He travelled a lot on the Galeb ship, and each time he took a lot of photos. When he was back home, he would create a darkroom in the bathroom and produce photos from the negatives. I remember I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 years old, when he left me to enter the darkroom with him. So, can you imagine, my dad puts a white paper to the water, and a photo comes out? I thought he was a magician!
The first steps in photography were at school when I was in 6th grade. I started to attend photography classes throughout elementary and high school and became the photo section manager soon after attending the gymnasium.
My friends and I were always trying to get to Hajduk football games for free, as we could not afford tickets, and then I came up with an idea to start a school magazine, “Gimnazijske Staze” (Gymnasium Paths). My next step was to ask for a meeting with the Hajduk Football Club president, and he accepted. When he looked at me, the first question at the meeting was, “What do you want, kiddo?” That didn’t stop me at all as I continued, “I am the editor of the gymnasium magazine The Paths, and we have a page dedicated to Hajduk Split Football Club. I would need a photo pass to be able to follow the games, take shots and publish in the school magazine.”. He called his errand boy and said, “Give him a pass!”
My biggest joy in life and the most considerable success so far was this Hajduk Split pass! That is how it all started.
LB team: So, this is how the young reporter’s career started. We assume you attended all the games from that moment! Any interesting stories to share with our readers and visitors?
Jadran: Well, the things rolled out quickly. I started attending the games and each time would take photos which I would bring with me to the next match and showing them to other photographers. I was at the stadium for 6-7 games when I heard a photo reporter from the famous Vjesnik (Croatian newspaper) was going to retire. They needed a photographer, and other colleagues from the stadium recommended me, and that is how my love for Hajduk Split paid off many times. (laugh)
LB team: Such a beautiful story about family love for photography for sports and Hajduk Split. And we are only at the beginning! You used your father’s equipment, or you had yours?
Jadran: At the beginning, I used my father’s, and before leaving for Paris, a friend treated me with Minolta SLT 303.
LB team: How long did you stay at Hajduk stadium? When Paris came?
Jadran: I left for Paris in 1974. Before that, I stayed at Vjesnik Newspaper as a photo reporter for almost five years. I reached the top in this role, and I wanted new challenges, even if Vjesnik was the most vigorous publisher back then in the ex-Yu. I decided to go to Paris without knowing the language. Today, I am fluent in French.
If you don’t provoke happiness, there isn’t any! You create happiness!
LB team: Paris must have brought many exciting stories. Would you share some?
Jadran: I shared all of them! These are in my book, and all of them are behind the scenes! It will be promoted at the exhibition in Lustica Bay, too.
LB team: And how you came here, to Lustica Bay? What are your impressions?
Jadran: I came thanks to the recommendation of my good friend Vlade Divac, who explained that he enjoys Lustica and has property for sale here, too. Honestly, my impressions are… I am speechless! It’s like you are not in Montenegro or the Balkans. It’s from out of the world place! And I heard that this is only a small percentage of what will be developed here in the following years!
LB team: Yes, you need to become a steady guest to witness it! But, your exhibition is an excellent addition to your visit here.
Jadran: Yes, indeed. This exhibition started in June this year, at Brac island in Croatia during WTA. Then, it continued in the Museum of the city of Sibenik, followed by Split and Hvar. The island Vis jumped in during the Hvar exhibition as the granddaughter of Ivan Mestrovic called me, and she wanted to make a private exhibition at her Palace Jaksa in Vis. There is a long hall where she keeps all the sculptures she inherited from her grandfather, and she wanted my photos to be displayed there, too. This was a great honour.
It continues here, at Lustica Bay, in this great ambience, and then we go further around the region.
LB team: Getting back to your vocation, is portrait photography what describes you best?
Jadran: Yes, it is. People. Work with people indoor and outdoor. In the USA, for a while, it was trendy to film celebrities at their homes, too. I have had over 300 cover pages all around US magazines, and only around half of them is inside my book. I never succeeded in collecting all of them.
LB team: With whom you had the best relation? Any friendships formed through your work?
Jadran: Many. They come and go. I used to be good friends with Jean Claude Van Damme, Jodie Foster, and many others. Emir Kusturica invited me to the shooting for the Arizona Dream movie with Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Jerry Lewis. I have some stunning photos of Faye, and she was gorgeous. And Johnny was a musician playing in a band, a charming young man, who was smoking a lot. Great memories of that movie, even if it was the only one that I did with Kusturica.
LB team: It is not only celebrities, but your portfolio is also full of photos of many politicians, statesmen and many others. Do you write about that in your book? Is there behind the scenes on this?
Jadran: I didn’t write about that a lot. But there are photos from the wars in Iran and Iraq. And there is one story on how I managed to capture the portrait of Abolhassan Banisadr, the former Iran president. While during my visits to Belgrade, I took photos of Mitterrand, Mubarak, and Jimmy Carter. There is an exciting story in the book about the exclusive photos of Abu Abbas, the terrorist that I took. Next to him, I think Leonid Brezhnev is another great exclusive photo reportage.
LB team: Your book came out in 1979 as a first edition called Paparazzo, printed in 10.000 issues, one of the bestsellers in Yugoslavia at that time. You had another edition in 1985, called reporter. Now, in 2021 we celebrate your 5-decades of work, and we need to make a Retrospective, as you named the exhibition from 2007 that you held in 5 Croatian cities.
Jadran: Yes. From 1982 to 2020, I didn’t make any new book editions, and since 2007 I didn’t make any big exhibitions. After the exhibition in 2007, I left with over 300 printed and framed photos that were exhibited at these exhibitions. I thought about it, and I had an idea to organise a charity dinner and offer my photos at the auction where 300 people came. I invited friends and business associates, and I was selling tables but also my photos at the live and silent auctions. We collected around 170.000 USD. I donated it to the physical therapy department in the hospital for children with special needs in Split, Croatia.
LB team: Great stories! For the finish – do your children like photography also?
Jadran: Yes, my son used to love it. But I think that newspaper photography is slowly dying, as everything is turning to digital.
Dear Jadran, we wish you all the luck and look forward to your next visit to Luštica Bay, whether it is with some great initiatives or as a guest!