Bruna graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and is currently based between Croatia, Paris, and London. Her ability to capture witty yet raw images is what escalated her career as a photographer to shoot for SSAW, CR Fashion Book, Dazed and Confused, Arena Homme +, Dust, and many more.
This interview took place via Skype between Tate in New York and Bruna in Croatia
Editor: Paulina Rozenberg
TVPS: Hello Bruna! Tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are today.
BK: Well I got my first camera at 14; at first I was shooting around here in Split, Croatia, where I grew up. When I started shooting, I immediately knew that it was something that I wanted to get into deeply. I entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. I studied photography there where I lived for five years, that's how I learned about magazines and books and fashion, things like that.
So in your opinion, were your experiences in school paramount in your development as a photographer?
Not really actually. Maybe school just helped me with some technical stuff, but really the best thing about it was the access to connecting with fashion students, because it's really a fashion academy. The Royal Academy of Fine Arts is famous for its fashion department. Meeting and talking to those students was so valuable because it opened up my point of view on everything.
What’s your most important learning experience?
With every shoot, you learn something, especially at the beginning because it’s so new. Also in exchanging ideas and experiences with other photographer friends, and things like that, you learn. I didn't really have one big thing that happened to me it was more of just a constant evolution.
Why did you choose 2DM to represent you?
2DM was actually the very first agency to represent me. We have a good connection, so I just stayed with them.
What does it mean to be represented by an agency and how do they help you develop your career?
Well, you can always talk with them, and they’ll give you advice while looking at it from a business perspective, which can be really helpful. In the sense of what is a good job for you or not. Sometimes something may seem like a bad job, but it can bring in some options, you know?
The agent is the one who should take care of you, they're looking at what’s going on, and they have a good idea of your development and what direction you’re heading in. Basically, they tell you what you should do and what you shouldn’t. There’s always someone to take care of the money and the contract aspect of the shoots. Talking about money can always be tricky, so agents are a big help in that department.
What’s important to you when working with a stylist?
At first, when I check out their work I need to like the way they style. I need to see something that interests me. Then I look at our relationship, we don't have to be best friends, but there has to be positive vibes and the same level of thinking about the shoot.
And for a casting?
I really need to like them. When I say that I don't mean that I have to be attached to their personality before, but I do need to see something in it that's really interesting and intriguing. I often do casting online which I hate because you can’t really get their personality from that.
I think models can bring a lot to the shoot with their personality. The way they act is something that's inspiring to me while I work because I always leave my shootings a little bit open. I don't come with a 100% finished idea of what I want to have. I have a main base, a main idea and then when I come to set, and I meet the models, I try to understand how they are, how they move, and how they talk. I like to have as much reality in my pictures as possible, and so I try to bring out the personality of the models in every shoot.
Being a female photographer do you think that makes you have a different perception of the guys that you shoot versus a male photographer?
I’m not sure. I have a special kind of view with the guys. Let's say this; I shoot more guys because I observe them more and I'm more intrigued by them. I also like to shoot girls, but I have to say that guy models are more inspiring to me.
Why do you think film is becoming more and more popular among younger photographers?
I think that they’re experimenting. Film can never be replaced by digital photography, and they probably like the feeling of the film. Film is much better for documentary photography and creating emotion. When I’m shooting, I don’t use digital unless a client really wants me to because they need to have the images right. 90% of my work is film, even editorials. Some commercial jobs too actually.
Are there any challenges for shooting on film rather than with a digital camera?
Not really, it’s just a different way of working. First of all, nobody on set can see what I'm shooting, so there isn’t any sort of live selection. I definitely have to be more focused on every image that I shoot because I only have a certain number of frames. With digital, you can shoot as much as you want, and then you can look at the images right away and change your mind, but that can actually make it really hard on set. With film, you don't know what you get, though, so there is always this thought of, "I hope there are pictures on it when I come home." Like, imagine there is nothing. You come home from the shoot then, nothing. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet.
With the rise of social media and sites like Instagram, so many people call themselves “photographers,” do you feel the need to put forth extra effort to keep up the status of professional and fine art photography?
Yes, there are many people shooting in similar ways and copying each other, it’s happening a lot more than before. People can do whatever they like now. If they want to photograph in that way, okay, but I think if you are a true professional you progress in the business. What is good is going to stay and what isn’t disappears after sometime; you can’t just copy forever.
How does the fashion world influence your photography?
When I started doing photography, I didn't think about fashion. It wasn’t really my first goal. I got involved with fashion after I started to do work for Dazed, they wanted some of my personal work to mix with fashion, so that’s how I got involved with it. Even when I’m shooting fashion I still don’t really think about it; it’s just part of the finished product.
Also, I like to be a bit distanced from the “big city” because I believe that every environment influences your work and your style. The things that you feel and what you see everyday are reflected in your work, subconsciously or otherwise. I like being away from fashion sometimes as it doesn't really exist in Croatia, at least the fashion here is nothing like the fashion from London or Paris. It’s so different here. I like the combination of going between a small town and a big city, and I love to live in Croatia because that’s where I’m from, my family is here, and we have great weather. The quality of life is great, it’s a nice contrast from the city, but I like going back and forth between both environments.
Do you think there’s a strong community of young photographers in London or Paris?
No, not really.
Who are your favorite photographers?
There are so many, but I really love David Sims.
What do you feel makes your work stand out from your peers?
I don't really think about that, but people tell me that I have a certain kind of style. I don't know what to say about that though because I just see it as my work. It's hard for me to observe my work from an outside perspective because I’m obviously so close to it.
Do you have a definition of success?
I think my definition of success it to be satisfied with my work. I mean, everybody has some idea about what they want, and the point of art is just to be happy, to be working, and to have nice projects, that's about it for me.
Do you see your work in nature helping your fashion work, and vice-versa?
I'm always shooting stuff that inspires me. I don't think about the “next level” or anything. I shoot things that intrigue me. I like the combination of nature and fashion in my work because it can create something really lovely. I don’t really combine the two or use one to help the other with a lot of initial intention; for me, the process is just about going as I feel, I don't plan anything out much.
What advice would you give to someone who looks up to you?
Well, if they have a passion for photography I would tell them to just create work and to do their thing. They have to find a way to do it, maybe it's not always a straight line to success, but if they really want it, they will find the best solution for creating work that satisfies them.