Petar Kujundzic

Petar Kujundzic

Based
Beijing, China
Born
Belgrade, Serbia
Status
Photographer
“If your passion is photography, it is not going to be easy but don’t give up, keep taking pictures and learn from every single mistake.”

Beat

Over the course of my long career I have covered absolutely everything: war zones, riots, sport, fashion … you name it. Currently I am not shooting as much because I am in charge of Reuters picture coverage in Greater China, which includes managing my team and a lot of admin work. But I still enjoy taking pictures very much, when time permits.

One Shot

. Krsko, Slovenia. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic
A Yugoslav army officer defuses an anti-tank mine planted by Slovenian forces on the highway near Krsko July 2, 1991.
“Admitting that you have a favourite kid is one of the biggest parenting taboos, right? That’s how I feel about choosing my favourite photograph. I’ve taken many pictures that I like but my favourite would have to be my first well-published war image, which hit front pages around the world. The image was taken during a ten-day conflict in Slovenia (Former Yugoslavia). It was pretty intense and dangerous.”

Profile

My father was a medical specialist photographer so my memory of photography goes way back to when I was a little kid. His cameras, a darkroom in our apartment in Belgrade, the smell of chemicals, safelights… All of that was a part of my life since as long ago as I can remember.

It was a privilege having a father who was a photographer. I learnt basic technique from him.

I learnt the essence of photojournalism on the go, by making mistakes as well as learning from my senior colleagues who unselfishly shared their experience and knowledge. The beauty of this job is that I still learn every single day.

I always wanted to photograph sports. My mom was an employee of “Politika,” the oldest daily newspaper in the Balkans, so she was in a position to ask one of the top sports photographers at the time to take me to a soccer match and give it a go. Before the game I was taken close to the goal post and was told: “stay here and take pictures when they get close enough”. The home team won 5:0 and I was lucky enough to be on the right side and get many good pictures.

The story that left the biggest mark on me would definitely be the nearly 10 years of conflict in my own country (Former Yugoslavia). I was already with Reuters for more than two years when the first conflict started and it was absolutely natural to continue taking pictures and do my job.

Covering war is a difficult job but covering war in your own country is twice as difficult. Your world is falling apart but you have to keep an unbiased approach while your family, people you know, your friends and all of your compatriots suffer. On top of this - and apart from the fact that covering war is a dangerous business - you might be considered as an enemy just because you belong to one of the groups involved in the conflict.

I love nice pictures. I enjoy editing images taken by other photographers just as much as I enjoy taking photos and editing my own stuff.

I don’t think about my audience, I just want to produce the best possible images that will tell the story. My goal was always not to do anything to disturb or influence an event or subject in front of my camera.

My biggest lesson has been to avoid emotional connections and cover events from a neutral point of view, which can be difficult sometimes. I also learnt that things are not black and white, that there are good and bad people in every single part of the world without exception.

There is one special person in my life without whom I wouldn’t be what I am today - my late wife Marina, my biggest passion and greatest supporter for many difficult years in the past, especially during the conflict in our own country. By taking care of our kids and of me, she gave me a chance to fully focus on my second biggest passion, photography.

I would like to tell young people: every single person has talents, the question is if and when you are going to discover your talents and if and when you are going to start developing them. If your passion is photography, it is not going to be easy but don’t give up, keep taking pictures and learn from every single mistake. Just remember that the sky is the limit as long as you are fully committed and work hard.

Behind the Scenes

. Belgrade, Serbia. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Reuters photographer Petar Kujundzic takes pictures during clashes between supporters of Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic and opposition supporters in Belgrade.