The Under The Influence series has been a rewarding expedition. But, I’m not just talking about myself discovering great photographs and photographers. Unearthing the photographer’s biographies has been a surprisingly intriguing and joyful task.
I’ve always been a fan of biographies, particularly reading about the lives of historical figures. I loved going into their lives and learning how they came to be the important, or infamous, men and women whose names resonate through time. However, when I began researching photographers, I did not expect to be that drawn to their histories, their stories. But I was quickly proven wrong. Vivian Maier immediately comes to mind when I think of intriguing biographies. Lewis Hine, Robert Capa and Weegee are others that come to mind. And there’s photographers with incredible stories that are working right now, still writing their own biographies. One prime example is the photographer known as Boogie.
Who is Boogie?
Boogie, who’s real name is Vladimir Milivojevich, was born in Belgrade, Serbia. But back then, in 1969, it was Yugoslavia and living was peaceful. However in the 1990’s, war and poverty rocked the country. Boogie shot the streets during this time and nurtured his own style, without any training. And just like the decline happening all around him, his settle was very raw and very real.
Boogie was granted United States residency in 1997 via the country’s Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery program. In 1998, he moved to New York City. Since then, he’s been tearing up the world of photography. He’s done projects on drugs, gangs and even skinheads. He’s shot on the streets all over the world. Boogie has also shot commercial work for clients like Nike, Puma, Lee jeans and Element skateboards. He was featured in the street photography film, Everybody Street. His work has appeared in numerous publications, from The New York Times to even Playboy.
He’s had five books published and a sixth, in Jamaica, is said to be in the works.
How did he influence me?
Boogie’s work is indeed compelling, but the strength it’s not limited to his projects like Gangs and Drugs. It is in his street photography as well. When I look at his work, it seems to go beyond descriptive trends like gritty, real and raw. Boogie’s photography is *immersive*.
I’ve really come to love the more intimate-feeling street photography. Work that makes you feel like you’re not only in the scene, but familiar with it. That there’s a connection, or relationship with the subject or with what’s going down in the image. Like maybe, just maybe I’ve walked the same street and seen it before, but the photograph finally made me see it the way it’s meant to be seen.
Boogie’s photography isn’t “fly on the wall”. It puts you in the thick of it, sometimes to the point of feeling uncomfortable. A nervous energy. And it’s not just because there’s a gun pointing back at you. Boogie has bottled up the rush of being a street photographer. The fear and awkwardness I felt early in the adventure of street and the resulting exhilaration of taking the shot… Boogie brings it back. It really is inspiring.
In keeping one eye in documentary and the other in street, Boogie finds a sweet spot that’s more satisfying than sneaking a shot of a passerby. His images motivate me to mix it up with the people we snap in our communities. It doesn’t necessarily mean something as sketchy as hanging with gangs or junkies. I think it also means spending more time learning about the people where i shoot. More time observing and less time worrying about the next shot. Soaking up the neighborhoods and the usual subjects in them.
I want to slow it down and enjoy the ride. Spend as much time out there as possible so I can put myself in the shot when I take it. So I can be immersed in my surroundings. And that will put anyone who looks at it in the shot as well.
More about Boogie on his website at http://www.artcoup.com/blog/