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Professional Slovenian photographer Tomo Jeseničnik is a lifetime student of photography. He believes in pushing himself ever further in mastering his craft, always striving for his next image to be an improvement over his last. And believe or not, his career in photography began with blueberries!

Photographer: tomonikon / Tomo Jeseničnik
Country of Origin: Slovenia

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
I use a Nikon D2x camera and almost all Nikkor Pro lenses, from the 10.5 mm fisheye to the 300 mm f 2,8 AFS VR telephoto. I also use 3 Nikon SB 800 flash units with an Su 800 wireless controller. In the studio, I work with 3 X 500 Ws Hensel strobes and many different softboxes, cones, grids, spots and also a Broncolor lightbrush. For some assignments, my equipment would weigh more than 100 kg!

2. What do you think of photography these days?
Digital technology has brought a lot of new guys onto the scene, but on the other hand, the knowledge of photography fundamentals is decreasing.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
An archeologist!

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
During the summer holidays between my 2nd and 3rd year of primary school, I picked blueberries in the woods around my home village and sold them. Once I had earned enough money, I bought my first camera. Today at age 43, I have more than 30 years of photography experience, including 12 years as a professional.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
You should never think that you already know everything there is to know about photography. I'll keep learning about photography for the rest of my life. My personal motto is: Every photo can be better than the previous one!

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
I was one of the first professionals in my country to completely switch over to digital technology in 1999. It wasn't easy, but once you've stepped into the world of digital photography, there is no turning back.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
I'm not that kind of person, I just let the photos speak for me.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
It differs from session to session. Sometimes, I plan a session really early in advance, up to a year. But there are also other times when I just allow myself to be surprised. Spontaneous, unplanned shooting can yield some really good results.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
It is very versatile, from food photography, to still life, landscapes, table tops, portraits and street photography, among others.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
If my client allows me a lot of freedom at work, for instance for monographic books of certain areas or countries, I'll shoot whatever my heart tells me to. But most other assignments involve a lot of other people, like designers, models and advertisers, where you must work as part of a team and follow a complex check list.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
Models who think that they are world's top ones.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
As I have mentioned, my philosophy is that my future work can always be better than my past work. It means that you have to be critical of your work all the time and not fall asleep after winning a few battles.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Nature is one of the things that inspire me. Sometimes, I'd notice simple and small details that I had been passing by for many years, unaware that they existed until then. Older people, with a lot of experience and knowledge, also inspire me often. You just have to find a way to listen to them.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
I try to "wash" the photography out of my mind for a day or two. Maybe I visit a nearby forest or mountain, and usually after two or three days those creative juices are back.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
It was seven years ago, when I was covering an extremely hard and dangerous sled dog race in northern Khamchatka, where temperatures were constantly about -45º Celsius. It was one night in the tundra, when wild wolves started to encircle our camp and dogs. The wolves began to howl at the full moon, and after a few seconds all of the dogs howled back, and I felt like I was one of them.

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
That when I stumble, I am able to make an even larger step forward.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
There are at least 50 photographers from all over the world that I admire. From James Nachtwey, to Jim Brandenburg, Frans Lanting, Larry Burrows, Sebastiao Salgado, Erik Refner, Joe McNally, Andreas Bitesnich, Tina Modotti... Because they all founded their own way of expressing themselves through photography.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Don't compare your work with colleagues from the same yard, compare it instead with the work of the top photography masters.

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