Guide to SKOPJE

Skopje Jazz Festival is a magical festival


Interview with Ziga Koritnik, official photographer of Skopje Jazz Festival.

The world of jazz wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the photography that portrayed its iconography. It seems that both jazz and photography had been walking hand in hand as early as the beginning of the 20th century. In the same manner the Skopje Jazz Festival image wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Žiga Koritnik’s photographs. He has been the festival’s official photographer and a figure that the festival is identified by, and whose photographs adorn the walls of many prestigious art galleries worldwide.

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You’ve been a resident photographer at the Skopje Jazz Festival for many years, and you are one of the characters that this festival is identified by. How did your work with the festival begin?

– We began working together in 1996 when I published my mini-monograph “Jazzy-ga.” I was sending it everywhere to all kinds of festivals and it was Oliver Belopeta who contacted me and invited me to see the festival. That is how that story began. It was then when we published the first calendar. There’s magic in the air when the Skopje Jazz Festival is happening that keeps bringing me back to it.

What are some of the best concert you have witnessed there and in the same context what are some the best pictures you are most proud of?

– It is difficult to choose that as I’m attached to all of my photographs. As for concerts the list would be really long but distinguished from Roy Campbell, Henry Threadgill, John Lurie & the Lounge Lizards to Antony Braxton, Wayne Shorter, Fire!, and the list would go on and on.

As a photographer you have an opportunity to travel and exhibit your works worldwide. How people react to your photographs that were taken at concerts here?

– In the last few years I’ve been traveling a lot as I exhibit my work all over the world. For eg. In China they don’t know all of these musicians as different type of music is popular there. During my last exhibition at Zhuang, people loved the emotions that radiate from my photographs. I had the same experience while working in Ljubljana 2 years ago, when I was exhibiting at park Tivoli. The exhibition had 150 photographs. It gathered different kinds of people, not just concert goers, but people from all walks of life, and all of them were delighted by the emotions that emanate from those photographs.

Ziga Koritnik (photo by Petra Cvelbar)

What makes a certain photograph good? How do you choose one photograph among the many that you take during a concert?

– Selection is crucial and there are different types of selection. Either you can do selection or someone else can do it for you. The first selection is always by me. I would eschew all that is overexposed or underexposed, out of focus, lifeless. Over the years of experience I can see when something is extra good but in the end it’s the audience that makes the choosing. Countless of times I was surprised to see what are their preferences. It’s me who makes the decisions, but the audience is the one that surprises me from time to time regarding a photograph I didn’t think it was something special. Each photograph has its own magic and its own energy that emanates from itself.

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How do you hunt for those special moments in live situations?

– When it comes to concerts, the energy that spreads around gives you motivation and influences your decisions. I listen to music alone and it’s me alone who gathers all of these emotions that we all share. When someone is taking a solo, you divert your attention to that person. But still, you are surprised by things that you kind of expect, but somewhere in between there happens something you didn’t expect, and that gives the photography a higher value. That’s something I’d like to see happen in a photograph.

Nenad Georgievski

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