Leica Liker is very honored to have Mario Cuic, Munich Street Photographer, to be the first featured guest of this blog inaugural launch with a full interview.
I was aware of Mario’s work through his membership in the ‘Seconds 2 Real’ Street Photography Collective. So it was serendipity when we were introduced via the Street Photography network in Google Plus.
When yours truly, went to Munich to visit friends and family, I was able to meet up with Mario and go shooting with him as well as his friend Robert Scholz, a fellow Street Photographer. Within a short period of time, I learnt from Mario, the importance of knowing your camera like an extension of your eye and hand. The rule is not new. Andre Kertesz was the first to say it, and thousands after him. But Mario’s conviction made me by into it. And it has made me become really aware of light, exposure and the beauty of my camera.
Mario is extremely passionate about street photography. So much so that he spends nearly all his free hours and holidays devoted to roaming the streets. He told me he loved “being at one with the streets, feeling its rhythm, hearing the sounds and smelling life”. It’s what makes him happiest.
Irony and sarcasm play a major role in the way Mario frames his shots. His work always has a unique sense of Bavarian and Croatian humor. And that’s exactly what shows in his photographs. He looks for the bizarre, comical and often whimsical situations in life.
What makes Mario’s photographs stand out is these observations are taken to the next level by his juxtaposition of a situation against another situation within a scene. This man’s t-shirt combined with the water jets. Detail against detail.
Or the police made fun by the crocodiles in various sex positions. “Make love, not war” is apropos here. To put these rather small refined details together within second or split second takes a trained eye and an acute sense of what is happening around him. When I shot the streets with him and Robert, he would dart away from us for a minute and come back with a very satisfying picture that both of us had no idea was even occurring.
And if that isn’t enough, Mario works hard at avoiding clichés. To challenge himself, he also works on different styles. The latest one being “Open Field”, a term coined by Joel Meyerowitz. A photo framing several layers of action. All of the action, though separate, somehow create a single story or a single moment.
Mario sets high standards for himself. Because of his ambitions, we can be assured that there will be more unique photographs in the near future. We’ll be checking in on him for updates on his photographic journey.
Here’s my interview with MARIO CUIC:
Nick name : I don’t have a nick name.
Currently living in: Outer suburb of Munich, Germany.
Motto: How you meet someone is how you are met in return.
Street Photographer Since: I can’t really remember. I think it was sometime between the years 2007 and 2008.
Profession: Quality Control Measurement Engineer for a manufacturer of machines for Oil Hydraulics.
Favorite street camera & lens: Body: The great Leica M8 ( I like the organic look of the CCD sensor). Lenses: For 99% of my shots I use a 1976 – Minolta M Rokkor 28/2,8. I also use an old 1991- Leica Sumicron 35/2.0; Ultron 28/2.0 and Voigtländer 15/4.5 and 35/1.4
Back-up street camera & lens: Ricoh GRD III (also a great CCD sensor and lens); My latest acquisition, the Nikon V1 is a wonderful camera for subway or indoor work. It’s small, silent, and good with low lighting and has great shallow depth of field with the tiny 10/2.8 (kb 28mm) lens.
Favorite photography gadget: Thumbs Up and a bright 35mm Voigtländer viewfinder.
Favorite street food: Apple and water or leberkäse and gooood Bavarian beer 😉
Do you listen to music while shooting? No, that would cut me off from the outside world. On the contrary, when I’m in the underground metro, I enjoy the intermittent background sounds of the train rushing by. For me, it’s like music. It relaxes me, like a form of meditation.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing photos: When I am editing my photos, I listen to bands such as “VNV Nation” or “And So I Watch You From Afar”. But, when I am selecting my photos, I don’t listen to any music, because it takes me out of being able to feel the photographs.
Favorite photo software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 3.
3 Favorite Master Photographers: I like the point of view of Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray Jones and Marc Riboud.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: I like the point of view of Richard Kalvar, Martin Paar and Matt Stuart.
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I don’t own any. I prefer Books.
Film or Digital ? For street photography, I use only digital. For private shoots, I always love to use film. For this simple reason: I’m just not interested in taking on so much work to develop, scan and process film.
If film, what type of negative? For color: Fuji Astia or Fuji Provia. For black and white: Fuji Neopan withTetenal Emofin (two component developer)
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? I like any time because the light is special at any moment of the day.
Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? It all started when I bought myself a book about Mark Ribou. It was then I began my love for photography and humanity. Through photography, I found myself often coming in contact with people. Since then, hardly a week goes by when I’m not out shooting the streets of Munich. However, street photography is not the only type of photography I make. I love to shoot on specific themes. For instance, between 2008 and 2009 I only took photos of people in our U-bahn, the underground metro. It isn’t specifically street photography, but it is a another way of communicating visually. It helps me develop my sensitivity when I shoot different subjects and styles. I feel if you only shoot street photography, after a while, you lose the ability to find the decisive moment. You don’t “see” anymore.
What motivates you to photograph the streets? There is no ‘big’ motivation. It’s really a mixture of interest in humans and photography and to capture the decisive moment.
What I also found wonderful is when I visit an exhibit of mine, like the last one in Berlin with Seconds 2 Real. I saw how the people stood in front of my photos which made them smile. That motivates me a tremendous amount. It means a great deal to me.
Favorite street photography city: Munich is my home base. It’s where I feel good and where I make most of my photographs. But I also like to shoot in other cities. Every city and every human has their own uniqueness.
What inspires your photography? I am mostly inspired by photography and movies. I have been shooting for five years, with my friends, on two ‘No Budget’ movies. I hope those films will be completed this year.
What do you look for in a good photograph? At a certain moment in time I try to capture different layers consisting of the comical or bizarre, some kind of message, proper composition and most of all, it communicates. The photograph should be self-explanatory without the aid of any text, except of course journalistic documentaries. As for themes and project series, the photographs must have some connection with each other and support the general feeling of the theme. Or at least they must work together for the larger story.
Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Good shoes, good mood. Keep the head clear so that you’re open for everything in the street.
Best single advice on how to improve your work: Be interested in other photographs and photographers. Not necessarily to compare or even envy, but to be inspired by how they work and learn from them.
Best single advice on how to edit your work: If you work in Photoshop, then use the LAB Color Module a couple percent to raise the saturation. This will help improve the flat digital colors. That’s the only tip I can give because I pretty much shoot everything “in-camera” with the correct exposure and framing. I do almost no post processing except for what I just mentioned.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Consider what you REALLY WANT TO SHOW from our world and how you visually want it to look like.
What’s the best moment in your street photography career? The best moment in my career is: Each time I push the shutter button and capture 100% of what I envisioned.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? Up until now, I have not had any “worst moment”. But occasionally I run into security guards or subway security who want to know what I’m doing. That’s when I try to be friendly to them and speak with a calm tone. I’ve found when you are nice to people, you usually get what you want. Especially if you let them feel like they have everything under control. Then you are often allowed to continue shooting. This is my “Gandhi strategy” :).
What projects are you working on? I have some small projects such as my “Trainspotting” underground metro series which I hope to one day finish. I am also doing a portrait series with a specific theme based on my interest in people. But that will take a while :).
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I don’t have a specific plan. What comes, comes. I just want to photograph. To have a plan and achieve it, one must advertise and be able to sell one’s self very well. It’s not my world. I don’t have anything against others who want to do it. Everyone has to do what is right for them. I love my photographic life the way it is. Not too much and not too little. There has to be a balance. But most of all I have to have fun with it!
Congratulations on your upcoming exhibition titled ‘Fascination Street’ in Vienna with the collective Seconds 2 Real. Check out the up-coming Vienna exhibit here. Are there other exhibitions planned in the future?
There are more exhibits planned with other street photography groups, which I can’t really reveal. Because, I don’t want to spoil it :).
Leica Liker wants to thank Mario Cuic very much for the interview and advice given here.
Check out Mario’s gear under “Liker Bags ‘n Gear” in this blog.
Even Mario’s self portrait has a sense of humor.