Jelena Jovanovic is one of Fotolia’s top contributors. Based in Serbia, we asked her about getting started in the stock photography industry, what inspires her, and any tips or recommendations she could give other contributors.
Fotolia: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where you live, how long you’ve been a photographer, and any professionally training you’ve had?
Jelena Jovanovic: I’ve been holding camera for as long as I can remember.
I first learned about photography from my grandmother. She was a photography enthusiast and taught me about f-stops, shutter speeds, how to frame pictures, and to pay attention to details and composition.
It wasn’t until elementary school that I entered my first darkroom and learned how to develop films and photographs, and it was only seven years ago that I decided to go professional.
Fo: Your Fotolia portfolio contains a wide variety of subject matter, but what is your favorite subject to shoot and why?
JJ: I like to shoot female models. It is a pleasure to capture and present all the femininity and beauty that one woman has.
Fo: Has your time spent selling images on Fotolia shaped what you shoot? Are there some images that you know will be more popular than others?
JJ: When I started shooting for Fotolia, I had to learn a lot about style, technical quality, and – most of all – which subjects were suitable for microstock: in other words, things that sell. In order to become successful in microstock you have to develop your own unique style which will make you recognizable among many others. That, however, is a very difficult task, since you are always influenced by others’ work.
Fo: What has been your most memorable image you’ve shot and what makes it so significant for you?
JJ: This is an images from my many travels, and despite the fact that all the places I’ve visited mean a great deal to me, it’s Petra that has left the strongest impression, due to the layers of stories and scenes it holds within.
It’s a large complex, and the scenery is half-natural, half-human, all spanning different historical periods. With each step you take through the complex you discover amazing new areas that photographs cannot fully represent.
Besides that, I am also a huge fan of Indiana Jones :).
Fo: What technology do you think has had the biggest impact on your work as a photographer?
JJ: DSLR made every photographer’s life easier. Today, you can take unlimited images that cost almost nothing compared to taking and developing analog photographs.
For me personally, the biggest significance is digital art and the aid of the drawing tablet, which can turn your photographs into fantastic surreal scenes.
Fo: What was and/or is still your biggest inspiration?
JJ: Travelling and meeting new interesting people, and the works of great masters of art.
Fo: When you are working do you listen to music? Who is on your top playlists?
JJ: Yes, all the time! Mostly I listen to jazz, evergreen, and classical music. Tunes that are not too aggressive.
Playing the piano made me very picky about music. I feel comfortable with melodies that relax me, inspire me, and touch me emotionally. Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Diana Krall, Dean Martin, Bryan Ferry, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Debussy, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff…
Fo: What advice would you give to someone ready to start selling their images on Fotolia?
JJ: Besides hard work, you have to do serious market research and keep tracking trends, to figure out what is in demand. It’s always better to spend more time making one bestseller, than to waste time producing hundreds and hundreds of mediocre images.
JJ: First, I made a rough sketch. Then, I took two separate shots of a spoon and a girl, which I blended into one image. After that, I drew the milk, background, and other textures.
Fo: Do you still take pictures in your spare time, now that you do it as a job?
JJ: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” said Confucious.
That applies to my life! I always carry my camera with me, and love to take photos. I don’t separate my job from my personal life, and I use every opportunity to catch a good moment with my camera.
Fo: Thank you very much indeed for your time today, Jelena – it’s been very interesting talking to you!