A peek through the photo lense
Zvonimir Čuvalo is a qualified lawyer, former soldier, diplomat and businessman currently working at the Institute of Anthropology in Zagreb. As if he could be any more versatile, he’s also a passionate photographer with a special place in his heart for the Island of Prvić near Šibenik.
ŠIYP: Which are your favourite motifs and are they the most frequent ones in your photographs?
ZČ: A photograph is born in my imagination and the camera is just the means by which I then try to transform what is in my imagination into a pictorial record. I don’t have a favourite motif, but if I had to choose something then it would be people or an individual in his or her own surroundings, the environment which they created themselves, adapted and built for their own purpose and which also “speaks” of them.
ŠIYP: Do you prefer black and white or colour photography, and why?
ZČ: I personally prefer black and white photography, although I quite frequently take colour pictures too. When you take colour pictures you are taking photographs of colours, colours are a means of expression. Colours, although they are beautiful, can detract attention or, to put it better, be a distracting factor from the important thing in a photograph. Black and white photography, bereft of colour, leaves to the eye of the observer the very essence of the subject or object in the photograph, simple, unadorned, unimpeded by colours, expressed in shades of grey and additionally emphasised by the relationship between light and shade. It seems to me that with black and white photography I can much more easily and directly get to the important thing in the photograph.
ŠIYP: What does the island of Prvić mean to you personally?
ZČ: Prvić is an island bathed in sunshine, and when it rains and when the humid south wind blows, and when the cold north wind or when it’s a sunny day it’s the place where I most quickly recharge my batteries for the days when I am not there. I know that I can always go there, and I only leave so that I can return.
ŠIYP: In what way would you say Prvić differs from the other islands in the Šibenik archipelago?
ZČ: Prvić is the people who live there and the people who constantly return there. A complex simplicity and clearness of living on such a small island has a special charm. And there is always space for everyone, more or less, but there is. The locals are rather unique, life is hard on the island but they always look forward to seeing you, they always invite you to come and when you have to leave they always ask when you will come again. It’s something special when people look forward to seeing you and you them. That’s Šepurina and Prvić.
ŠIYP: Which view of Prvić should everyone take a picture of to remember it by?
ZČ: When someone says Prvić I have Šepurina and the church of St Jelena the Crusader in my mind. That beautiful little church to me is the symbol and guiding light of Šepurina and Prvić. I believe that there is not one visitor to the island who has not in some way taken that picture with them. While I am traveling from Vodice to Šepurina I watch Prvić but I only really see it when the bell tower of St Jelena the Crusader comes into view.
ŠIYP: What would you say a tourist must try, and what should they take home as a souvenir?
ZČ: What should they try? Everything that they see and which they like. What should they take home from Croatia? A ticket to come back, beautiful memories and smiles. Everything else will be waiting for them when they come back.
ŠIYP: How can people reach you and how can they see your work?
It’s easiest to contact me by email: email@example.com. They can see my work in my Flickr gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zcuvalo/ or on Facebook: https://facebook.com/zcuvalo. Sometimes, when I have the time I develop photos in the classic way, on black and white paper, usually 40x50 cm but I can do other sizes if required.