PREDRAG VUCKOVIC'S MAXIM MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
You have seen so many of his photos and you haven’t known that he is someone from your own country who has been travelling all around the world taking photos of almost all extreme sports. "The craziest thing I have ever taken photo of was a jump into an active volcano Mutnovski in Kamchatka, which I will never forget."
To begin with, could you, please, tell us about your job, for those who aren’t familiar with it?
I am a professional photographer specialized in extreme sports and underwater photography. This is not a usual profession and few people in the world are into it. The job is associated with unusual sports and, in most of the cases, with places which are not very accessible for ordinary people.
Where do you find the inspiration for all the photos we have seen on your site, extreme-photographer.com?
I get the inspiration from everyday contemplation on specific photos because I really spend a lot of time preparing and thinking about my work. The most important thing is to be original. I create most of the situations by myself striving to take unique photos. I am aware that this is the reason why I inspire many young photographers from different countries to contact me. Speaking about being unique, there are many of my photos which make people wondering how they were taken.
Do you ever spend time resting, considering the fact that you have been travelling all around the world?
I would like to quote a good friend of mine, Chris Pfeiffer, who is a champion in stunt motorbike riding, i.e. acrobatics: the more you sleep, the more tired you would be! I completely believe in that. I try to get enough sleep, but only to recharge my batteries for a new trip. I am not a type of people who can function without sleep, so I take a rest when I have to and really feel like it!
Are you interested into "ordinary" sports or you prefer extreme ones?
Yes, sometimes, when I have a spare time, although I must admit “the ball sports” are not my cup of tea. Recently, I have been asked to work in that field, too, so I have started doing it professionally. But, to be honest, I wouldn’t do that for pleasure.
What is the craziest thing you have taken a photo of, and what have you had to do for that photo?
Hmm... There are many things, but I can single out one adventure, during which I took photos of a jump into an active volcano Mutnovski in Kamchatka. The jump was performed by one of the best base jumpers with wing suits (the special suits for flying), a Russian, Valery Rozov. The whole project took 11 days. It was a very demanding expedition, a serious project which required visiting many volcanoes in Kamchatka. I will never forget that trip, because it had been the most difficult venture ever. I am planning two projects for the next year, which should surpass this one, but we will talk about them afterwards. Anyway, in order to take these photos, I had to upgrade my mountaineering skills, attend a course for rescuing people from avalanches and take many other psycho-physical preparations, including snowboarding on the slopes of volcanoes. Physical exercises had taken a few months.
What else do you do, besides being a professional photographer?
I do many other things: I own one of the biggest fitness centers in the region and I am a publisher of the X-fitness and X-sports magazines. Besides that, there are loads of things which are part of my life. One of these is preparing and training sportsmen for extreme and sports.
Are you familiar with and do you do extreme sports you take photos of?
The great advantage in my job is that I am really into those sports, the stunts and the way they are performed. When I take photos I know what specific moments I am waiting for. I used to do many of the sports and I still do some of them actively. I have brought a lot of these sports to my country and have been one of the first people to popularize them in ex-Yugoslavia.
You have taken some photos of David Coulthard. What is he like, privately and as a sportsman?
Yes, I took some photos of David Coulthard, the last time he drove in India. What can be said about the man who achieved so much, and is professional in all respects? I had a perfect communication with him.
What was the first extreme sport you took photos of?
The first was the one I used to do as a child, BMX and bike stunts. That’s how all began, extreme sports and photography. I don’t ride bikes any more; I stopped doing that a long time ago. I made a decision when I quit and I have never ridden a bike since then. Now I feel great when I take photos of the people riding bikes.
Is there a sport you would like to take photos of, but you haven’t had an opportunity?
There aren’t many, but I would like to take photos of some sports again, and include some new ideas. I will do that, for sure! I would like to do something that nobody has ever done before. It could be the same sport again but I would like to take photos that have never been taken before.
How many photos have you taken so far? Have you got any idea how many magazines all around the world have published them?
I can’t answer the first question, but there are a large number of them. I started in 1989, and have been a professional photographer for eight years. You do the math. By the way, currently I have business relations with over 50 magazines, and up until now I have cooperated with over 500 magazines and newspapers from all over the world.
What do you do when you want to relax?
My everyday shootings of extreme sports are very dynamic; on the other hand, I am also occupied with underwater photography where everything needs to be done slowly and strictly. That makes me really relaxed. I am planning a lot of projects in underwater photography for the future.
What are you talking about, precisely?
At the moment I am trying to make connections between the shooting of specific sports using the underwater equipment and sportsmen themselves, but somewhere between the water and the air. In that way I will link two different worlds, but through extreme sports. I will also try to depict diving in completely different light, such as diving with the sharks and take photos of some really unique diving destinations.
Have you got any unfulfilled wishes? What country you haven’t visited and you would like to?
There aren’t any dreams because I make my dreams come true every day. I would like to visit France, Polynesia, Bora Bora, Tahiti, the islands in that area… Maybe that’s my dream. To go there, take photos and enjoy myself. I would certainly bring the camera with me, and the additional equipment, too... (laugh)
For someone who wants to follow your steps, what would be the first thing to do?
Many would say that getting to know your camera is essential, but from my point of view it’s the sport you will shoot.
Are the extreme sports developed and popular here?
They are on a higher level than they used to be, and they are getting more developed. Having said that, they are still far from the world standards. But the direction of improvement is what matters and one day everything will fall into its place. And that is already happening with some of these sports.
Have you ever got injured because of the extreme sports?
I am very much aware of what I am doing and where are my limits. Injuries are occasional, but never the serious ones.
Many people here think that extreme sportsmen will do anything for the show, and therefore, the extreme photographers too. Is that true?
They are completely wrong. All the sportsmen are very self-conscious and aware of their limits. The same applies to me, as a photographer, who does many of the extreme sports, through shootings. I would never risk mine or somebody else’s life for a photo, although it sometimes seems like that. In many cases it appears that some things are on the verge of impossible, and that’s what makes my photos exceptional.