Through The Lens

January 16, 2013, by Dan Grant

Throughout this year, Modelresource will be devoting much of its attention to the photographers we see taking a greater stake in the industry in the years to come.

We're designating 2013 the year of "The New Crew"

Marko Mijailovic


  • @mrkmfoto

  • /mrkmfoto

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  • mrkmfoto

    Your bio mentions sneaking away with your parents' camera when you were younger, and photographing landscapes - features which now have their own section on your website. Why the jump from still life to people?

    I think part of what I loved about shooting landscapes (and other inanimate objects - albeit to a lesser extent) growing up was their uniqueness. No two landscapes were alike. In my younger days I guess my mindset was something to the extent of "people are everywhere, this landscape isn't." It wasn't until much later that I realized (or rather, discovered) that people, too, are unique and no two are alike. It was after that realization, which took me entirely too long to come to, that I became enamoured with the idea of shooting people.

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    Landscape, by Marko Mijailovic

    Since I started shooting people, around the age of 18, I haven't been able to stop and currently devote far more time to shooting them than landscapes - something which I plan on shooting more of over the year(s) to come. When I started working with agencies, I felt it was the perfect way to combine my love for capturing the uniqueness of people with my love for beautiful things. I was no longer just shooting my friends, family and interesting people, but now unique beautiful people.

    The one thing that leaves me still wanting to dabble in landscapes is this: When I shoot a person, that's it, the whole package is in front of you (it might not be the 'real' them, but it's them). But when I shoot a landscape I feel it's very ambiguous and leaves a whole lot to the viewer's imagination. What has happened here? How old is this place? Did it always look like this? etc.

    You have a good mix of male and female subjects on your site. Do you develop a different mindset when you shoot guys vs. girls?

    It's very individual and isn't based on gender, to me. I find those first few moments when the model walks onto the set are the most formative in regards to what sort of mindset I approach the shoot with. In those first few moments, I go through a few different personalities (kind of like Jekyll & Hyde) and based on their reaction will decide how to proceed. In general though, there's no difference in my approach towards shooting either gender.

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    LEFT: Liam Hickey (Ford), by Marko Mijailovic
    grooming: Anna Barseghian (Ford Artists)
    RIGHT: Lane (Peggi Lepage) by Marko Mijailovic
    beauty: Shawnna Downing

    Which photographers most inspire you?

    Oh boy, this might go on for a bit...

    Growing up, I would not have been able to throw a single photographers name out on the table. Heck, it wasn't until about three years ago I started noticing who shot what and even then I just learned the names of the photographers whose work I liked the most. I still had a very "naive" eye at that point, though.

    My very first inspiration in fashion photography was Mario Testino. There was something about his photos that seemed to make them come to life more than anyone else's. They just popped out off the page. He's able to capture humans (in a simulated or natural environment) in such a way that makes you feel like you know them, but also as if though you're there with them, just behind him. It's very intimate. The two words that I personally think describe his work the best are "vibrance" and "life." All of his work is just so full of those two things. It was the liveliness of his work combined with the fact that you couldn't walk a block in any major city without seeing one of his campaigns that inspired me. I wanted to be that guy that shot all those gorgeous Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, etc. campaigns that littered the billboards of every major city on earth. He was my first major inspiration and still continues to be a big one.

    Soon after learning who "that guy that shot all those awesome Michael Kors and Versace ads" was, I learned about who "that lady that shot all these 'paintings'" was. Annie Leibovitz. Her work over the last decade or so has been nothing short of "master painter" calibre. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, they are -- simply put -- works of renaissance and baroque art. The light, the tonality, the composition, the atmosphere she creates, etc. All like something a master painter creates with his brush on a piece of canvas. While I'm a big fan of her early work, it's this later work that makes her one of my influences. The sheer grandioseness of what she creates along with the emotive qualities of it all are what get me. A real visionary, in my mind. From her brilliant Louis Vuitton campaigns to her work for Disney and Vanity Fair, it's all absolutely brilliant. Taking on a shoot of that large a scale frightens me to no end, but I guess years in the business, budgets the size of a small country's GDP and an army of assistants will lend some confidence and let the mind roam free.

    It was quite a while after I started noticing names that I came across the one who is today probably my biggest inspiration. I can't remember how or where I learned his name (though it wouldn't be hard to find), but Paolo Roversi was "it" for me. Maestro. Leibovitz creates renaissance and baroque pieces of art, Paolo creates timeless pieces of art. His work has an aesthetic that can't be matched. Beyond his recognizably ethereal aesthetic, one can really feel that the image was created by the soul of a real artist; an artist in the truest sense of the word. There's something to his work that nobody else's work has, in my opinion. A lot of people attribute this underlying, but so obviously present "something" (that can't really be defined or explained) to his camera and his technique. Large format Deardorff camera + long(er) exposures coupled with either daylight or HMI's and the best (and most unique) models on earth. I know it goes much deeper than that with Paolo and these are simply physical objects he was provided with to express what's inside of him. Earlier on, in the first question, I mentioned how when I capture a person "that's it" and while it might not be the real them, it's still them. In Paolo's case, I feel he always is able to capture the real subject, be it in the famous black and white portrait of Natalia Vodianova everyone has come to know him the world over for or one of his commercial jobs, such as the Guerlain, Lanvin or Hermes campaigns. While the models are in those images to show the product and bring the viewer into another world, I feel he still captures the "real" them. It's a very unique trait about his photography, so honest and deep -- something I definitely aspire to. Paolo's influence on me goes much deeper than aesthetic, which is very shallow in the grand scheme of things, but is everything in this industry. As such, I don't think you could ever see his influence on me; it has more to do with feeling.

    These three photographers are my biggest influences, but there are several others as well - big names, small names, unknowns...

    How does their influence find its way into your own style (if at all)?

    I find that of those three, Testino's influence might be the most prevalent and viewable in my work (maybe because he was my first influence). I try to capture my subjects in as intimate and lively a way as possible. It's more his energy I try to bring to the table as opposed to his aesthetic, generally speaking, though when shooting more luxurious stories I'll try to approximate that as well. Another thing I find I have in common with Testino is that we both seem to be portraitists before we're fashion photographers- something which I hate carrying the title of, but have come to terms with.

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    Alanna Whittaker (Ford / Chantale Nadeau), by Marko Mijailovic
    Beauty: Erin Heather

    This year I'm focusing on the newer photographers in Toronto. Who, among the others, are you most impressed with, and why? (you can name more than one if you wish)

    Petra Collins. I've even written to her expressing my admiration for her work. It's her ability to take me, as the viewer, to another time and place through her images. Her work, despite being shot in current day and around the city, makes me nostalgic for a time and place I never lived in. It's quite amazing and refreshing what she does with a camera. I also love that she shoots all-film. It undoubtedly posses a character which is robbed by digital- a character that only helps to further her unique aesthetic, I feel. It adds to that nostalgic feeling. Another thing I love about her is her choice in subjects- they all seem so raw and free. Maybe it's also that fact that our bodies of work are so different that I'm so attracted to her work.

    The comment I hear back from models is that your playfully combative attitude is a big part of what happens on set. Care to comment?

    Ah, I knew this would come up one day, haha. Going back to the question regarding my mindset when shooting guys vs. girls... a lot of it has to do with those first few formative moments. I'll gauge, based on what little I'm given, what they're comfortable with, what they're not comfortable with, what they're into, etc. They're very crucial, those first few moments. Sure, a lot of times people will warm up to you and that's great, but I determine how the shoot will go in that first little bit immediately after meeting you.

    I also feel that approaching a shoot with that kind of attitude and carrying it on throughout the shoot immerses my subjects more into what they're doing and makes them more at ease. That level of professionalism that they're taught to bring with them, which still remains, is somewhat lowered and allows for their true selves to come through more. I want their personality in the images. I won't ever shoot someone in a way I feel doesn't fit them, even if it looks good. I like it when I can talk to the models, get to know them, be playful, become friendly, etc. It makes for a much more relaxed, but still professional, environment.

    In which magazine would you most like to see your fashion photography appear?

    My ultimate goal would be to see my work in French and Italian Vogue, if shooting women. It's the dream for every fashion photographer, isn't it? The only thing is that I know I don't shoot Vogue style work at the moment. What I mean by that is that I don't really shoot much luxurious high fashion stuff which is so synonymous with those publications. They're the epitome of all things fancy and beautiful. It's an aesthetic that I am slowly trying to grow more into because it's what I'd ultimately like to shoot one day. I'm in no rush, though. Once you've become a steadily contributing shooter for Vogue, you know you've made it, in my opinion. There are various other publications I'd love to see my work in (like i-D, Dazed & Confused, V, Harpers Bazaar, etc.), but French and Italian Vogue are the absolute top.

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    Sindy (Ford / Chantale Nadeau), by Marko Mijailovic
    styling: Amarsana Gendunova (Judy Inc)
    beauty: Wendy Rorong (Plutino Group)

    If speaking about mens magazines (since I shoot men just as much, if not more, as women), L'Officiel Hommes would have to be my top pick for magazine in which I'd most like to see my fashion photography appear. I like that, despite being a publication with as wide a reach as it is, it still has a very free feeling to it. It doesn't seem to be afraid of being more 'experimental' unlike other mens publications, such as GQ, for example. The images are unique and interesting works of art. Even if it's a stark white background with a pretty boy in front of it being shot with a flash, it's got a significantly more authentic and artistic feel than most other magazines I'd like to shoot for.

    Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion?

    While I'm all for rebirths and reggae, I'm a kid of the 90's so definitely Snoop Dogg.

    You have one video on your website (the lovely Adrien, from Spot 6). Plans to do more with video in 2013?

    Motion picture is something I've been meaning to work more with for a while now, but the sheer amount of work I've been able to do around stills is keeping me from advancing with those ambitions for now. I've got some great ideas in mind that I'd love to shoot and will definitely work on a few pieces this year, so stay tuned for that!

    What about you would surprise people?

    I think most people would be surprised to know that music is actually my main interest. I grew up in a very musical house, with my mother immersing me in classical piano since I can remember. Started taking lessons and was classically trained in it since age five (have all the certificates from my exams to prove it!). I stopped taking lessons around the age of 12, but still played at home. I was never good at theory, but could always pick things up by ear or by seeing someone place a piece.

    Around age 15, I got my first electric guitar and took lessons for a year. I started writing songs around that time and haven't stopped since. The only reason I've never pursued it to the same extent as photography is that of the 100+ pieces I've started, I've never finished a single one. I've recorded quite a few samples of my music and people always have a hard time believing it's me singing/playing, which is always cool. It's something I'd absolutely love to go places with, but not being able to finish a song is especially bad as you can no doubt image! Photography has distracted me a lot from music, but it's still what I feel the utmost passion about in life. I find the utmost solace in it.

    Check out Marko's Soundcloud page

    Anything you wish to add?

    Retouching skin is the bane of my existence.

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