Croatian town of Osijek is well known for its BMX scene. It has one of the biggest skateparks in Southeast Europe, and it's home to one of the best European contests - Pannonian Challenge. The town also provided more than a few great riders, but also some great extreme sports photographers. One of them is 24-year old Marin Lončar, a talented and hard-working photographer whose eye-catching work has already put him under the spotlight.
First of all - when did you start with the BMX and extreme sports photography, and for how long are you into it?
Marin: Since I started riding, I was photographing here and there. First, it was for the forum, then for the Facebook, but it was nothing serious. I was never thinking about composition or any other aspect of photography; I just wanted to have a photo or a video for sending to potential sponsors. Later, one of the friends from the skatepark bought a DSLR but didn't really know how to use it. I started to read some stuff on the internet and watch the tutorials on the Youtube, and eventually, he "borrowed" me his camera. So, it was the BMX that got me into the photography and videography. For me, to catch a perfect moment of some trick, or to capture the video the way I imagined it, is just the best feeling ever. I just can't describe it with words. After that, I kept picturing and recording everything in the park. After some time of money saving, I bought my own DSLR, so after a few years, my friend got his camera back. Thanks, Veca<3
Could you mention some role models or photographers that you look up to?
Marin: One of my role models is definitely Samir Kurtagić that kicks ass in the photography world. Every time I see one of his photos I am like – “wooah!” Composition, shadows, colors... every aspect is brought to perfection. It’s not just about trick or portrait; his photos tell the story. I also have to mention Milan Babić, my friend from Novi Sad who works wonders with shadows and composition. When their photos pop up on my Facebook feed, I get pretty stoked. I’m always happy to see their work.
How different is the BMX photography compared to the other forms of it?
Marin: I think every type of photography has its own diversities. In BMX world, I think the most important thing is to know the tricks, to know which leg comes forward and which side riders naturally spin on. Without BMX knowledge it is really tough and rare to catch a right moment. Every trick requires different positioning and depending on the trick I choose the side and angle to take the shot from. The same goes for skateboarding and other extreme sports. When I shoot skaters in our park, I always ask them where is the best to stand because I’m not really familiar with skate tricks, and I don’t know the difference between regular and goofy.
So far you have done many contests, including Pannonian Challenge. How does an event like that look from the angle of a photographer? How much of strength, coffee, energy drinks and adrenalin is needed to cover such an event the proper way?
Marin: Requires a lot of strength and will, especially when you are out in the sun for the whole day in the middle of the summer. What is unique to contests is that you cannot prepare yourself for every trick and every element, so I try to figure out what tricks will riders do on which element. Of course, it comes in handy to know styles of rides. I try to watch the training sessions before the shooting. It happens quite often that I need to run from one side of the park to another, so I can get the shot I need.
We have seen your photos from skatepark in Osijek, from Bukovac Bike Park and many other places in the Balkan region. How important is the location for you, in which way it influences photos and can it sometimes be additional inspiration or obstacle?
Marin: Of course, the location is important, and it determines everything. Bukovac Bike Park is one of the most beautiful places for photographing BMX or MTB. Natural beauties there add up something special that you can’t find in the skatepark or on the streets. It happens a lot that, for example, that a poll of a spotlight in the skatepark comes in the frame, so I have to try and use that in a way that is pleasant to the eyes. On the other hand, there are situations where I really don’t know where to stand and what to do, but I think that’s normal. It’s not always easy. Persistence is important!
What is harder or more challenging, to photograph an event where you are limited in time and number of shoots or some pre-planned session with riders? What are the main differences between those two?
Marin: Both are challenging, but I think the contests are much harder to photograph. You are limited with time and space. If you miss the trick, you've lost it. The run goes for a certain amount of time and if you get the trick on camera – great, but if not - there are other riders, so you have to move on and focus on them. The pre-planned sessions are much better because they're more relaxed to work. We have plenty of time, and if the rider feels confident about the trick, he can do it as many times as needed for me to get the shoot. Of course, there are also bangers, where you just don't know if the rider will be able to repeat the trick, and whether you'll get another shot. In that case, there is always pressure for me because I know I HAVE to take that shot right. Both things have their own advantages.
For your photography, how important is who the rider is, and is there anyone you prefer to shoot and work with?
Marin: The rider is not that important, actually. In my opinion, more important is to make everyone feeling good during the session and create the atmosphere with no pressure on rider or photographer. Of course, I enjoy photographing pro riders more, because their tricks look amazing and surreal. I can name a few riders I enjoy photographing, like Marko Žido, Tomzi, Matej Žan, Poki, and Ranteš. I like to photograph all the riders actually because everyone brings their own style into photos.
Talent, vision, hard work or equipment? In your opinion what is the most important?
Marin: Vision and hard work are crucial in every aspect of life, not only in photography. Equipment is also necessary because without proper gear you can’t put into practice what you have on your mind. But I wouldn’t say that gear is as essencial as vision and hard work. You can have the best equipment there is, but if you don’t have an idea and if you are not willing to put time and effort into your work then it’s not gonna happen. In the end, it’s all about taking photos, taking photos and taking more photos. The more, the better.
Year after year you manage to develop and make progress? How do you see yourself in the years to come? Are there any projects you would like to work on? Maybe tour with riders?
Marin: BMX photography and videography is what I’m most interested in. Also, tours with riders or individual projects for BMX brands or contests are something I’m aiming towards and my ultimate goal. Anything that has to do with BMX or other forms of extreme sports - I want to photograph and film it.
With skateboarding and freestyle BMX joining the family of Olympic sports, do you see any chance for the professionalization of extreme sports in Croatia in next years? I mainly think about riders, but also about other professions that gravitate around it, and of course extreme photography.
Marin: We were always looked upon as some crazy, problematic kids because people do not see extreme sports as actual sports. I think the fact that skateboarding and BMX are joining Olympic Games will cause a lot of changes. People will realize that you need to put as much hard work as in other sports. Olympic Games are the best thing that could happen to these two extreme sports. People will slowly start to look at it as a sport, and I think we can expect investments, new skateparks, and education of kids.
Apart for BMX and extreme sports photography we all know you for, is there any other aspect of photography you take part? Do you have some work or project you would like to share with us?
Marin: I like every type of photography, depending on the moment. I’m not strictly doing just one kind of photography, like portraits or landscape. I take photographs of things that I find pleasant to the eyes or affect me in some way. You can see all of my work my Tumbler on Instagram. Also, check my YouTube channel.