Sacred Place: A photo story

For the new Iliya collaboration, the author Lucija Bogunović has captured a series of photographs featuring our collection of silk scarves. We have known Lucija as an artist for some time now. We appreciate her unique sensitivity in photography, which is raw yet gentle and warm at the same time. Her protagonists are often friends, grandmothers, or women in general who surround her and with whom she shares a common language. She is connected to her home, the place of her origin – Ploče. A town nestled in the Neretva Valley defined by water. The Baćina Lakes, the mouth of the Neretva River, and, of course, the Adriatic Sea surround the city. So, this series of photographs taken for Iliya is, in a way, connected to the place Lucija comes from.
Here, she tells the story of her home, the concept of time, and inspiration.

1. How would you describe your work? How did your journey in photography begin?

I don’t know how to describe my work; I think it’s more necessary to ask others. But what I feel most about it is intuition. I believe that most of my photographic works and creations come from there. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m starting, but I listen to an inner voice that guides me further and further, leading me to certain themes, aesthetics, fields of interest, and so on. Whenever I start a new project, especially in photography, there’s not much preparation beforehand. I trust the process and let it take me wherever it decides.

My journey in photography began around the age of 12 when I got my first mobile phone with a camera. I spontaneously started taking photos and editing them using the phone settings available at that time. Gradually, with the help of my parents, I began saving money for my first digital camera, later for a DSLR, and a few years later, I received my first analog camera as a gift. With the first developed roll of film, a love was born that hasn’t stopped to this day; in fact, it has only grown. Now I use digital photography only when necessary.

I must mention that Zorana has been my favorite model from the very beginning. Her natural beauty, spontaneity, and ease of posing have matured in parallel with my personal style, and I think we are the perfect duo when it comes to fashion photography.

2. What inspires you?

Many things inspire me, but most of all, it’s everyday life. In photography, I find the greatest inspiration in people, bodies in relation to their surroundings, and the creation of their mutual compositions. That’s what excites me the most in photography. Stylistically, I think I have two opposites; one is total trash, imbalance, and the other is something exactly the opposite – harmony, refinement, and peace. On the other hand, when I engage in other media and projects, everyday life still inspires me, but in a slightly different way, the seemingly insignificant aspects. Something that happens in the in-between spaces, in everyday gestures, and living spaces.

In my recent works, I draw inspiration from the concept of home. Growing up in various locations, changing houses and homes, the sense of structure and stability is somewhat elusive to me. Now I am trying to build it from the ground up, and as I construct it, I reflect on the importance of a permanent physical residence, especially in the process of growing up, a privilege unfortunately not afforded to many for various reasons.

I am interested in the differences between people, stories, experiences, and associations on the same theme but from different perspectives and media. Currently, I am working on my thesis, which revolves around precisely that. I somehow feel that I will linger on this topic for a while because the question of home is a fertile subject, and it can be approached from various angles and positions.

3. What is the idea behind this photo story? What is your connection to the location of the shoot? What made this location interesting to you?

The idea behind this photo story also emerged intuitively. It felt most natural for it to happen precisely in those locations and with Zorana. The locations are Baćinska lakes and the Mouth of the Neretva River, where we, along with other friends, spent countless long summer hours and witnessed many sunrises. We never ceased to marvel at the beauty and charms that surround us, often exclaiming in moments of admiration our familiar phrase: ‘My goodness, where do we live!'”

I have a special connection with Baćinska lakes through long warm summers spent with my closest family, especially my grandmother, with whom I have a very close relationship. She reminds me and continually teaches me about the simplicity of life and its values. We often sit by the lake, and she endlessly recounts anecdotes from her life that I have heard many times before but would gladly listen to again.

On the other hand, I am attached to the Mouth of the Neretva through many moments of adolescence, wild times, and friendships. One of the most beautiful things there is when you jump into the cold Neretva, which, with its flow, pulls you to the point where it begins to merge with the sea. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world because, from the icy river, you gradually feel the warm rays of the sea, which, at that moment, seem like the softest embrace in the world until it completely envelops you.

At both locations, the nights are exceptionally special. As there isn’t much light or street lighting, the stars are mirrored in the water, and when you lie on the beach, you feel like you are floating among them. I could endlessly talk about the enchanting moments of these places.

4. How do you perceive Iliya? What inspired you while taking the photographs? With which scarf could you identify the most, and why?

For me, Iliya is in one word – harmony. Ena has done a wonderful job composing her art and love for watercolors and collages into a new silk product. And I can sincerely identify with any of the scarves. During the photo shoot, Sky Blue felt closest to me, while currently, it’s Black and White. Perhaps it’s because, in these winter days, I like to have colorful and vibrant outfit combinations, and that scarf balances them out.

5. The concept of time is often a theme in your work, is it significant here as well? How do we perceive it?

In my works, among other things, the concept of time and recurring fragments of life play a significant role, so it’s no wonder that it has woven its way into this story as well. Somehow, it spontaneously happened that each scarf has its part of the day. Thus, we began the shoot with the Oval Nude scarf at around three in the afternoon on the little beach opposite my grandmother’s house at Baćinska lakes. The sun was at its strongest, and its reflection on the lake created a beautiful contrast of golden hues and greenery. A bit further away, it was time for the Black and White Bark scarf. In an environment with countless shades of green and earthy tones, we chose it precisely because it stood out and created a perfect color balance.”

Our last location was at the Mouth of the Neretva River. Everything aligned; we arrived at dusk, and the sun had already disappeared, causing the sky and the sea to merge into one in beautiful blue shades. The green sandy beach and the black outfit complemented the decision for the Sky Blue scarf, which naturally blended into the scene.

6. What is your favorite memory from the project?

While we were taking photos, my dog Ama was with us, constantly jumping into the frame and wanting to participate in the shots. Zorana skillfully positioned herself so that Ama would be behind her, and we managed to avoid her appearing, but she was there, just not visible. Sorry, Ama!