INTERVIEW WITH… GORAN PETKOVSKI

We are back with our interviews and today we present a Macedonian photographer, Goran Petkovski. He was born in Bitola, Macedonia in 1966. In 1973 he and his family emigrated to Toronto, Canada.

Though he had strong interests in history, literature and the arts, he ultimately chose to study painting and sculpture and graduated from the Toronto School of Art. His body of work, expressed through the disciplines of reportage, portraiture, and street photography, reveals a character that is at once thoughtful and passionate, gritty and lyrical, and tender and probing.

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When did you start to think about photography?
I didn’t begin thinking about photography until I was 30 years old, and it all happened quite unintentionally while I was on vacation in France. I stumbled upon a photo-book on Paris, with images by Eugene Atget, André Kertész, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others, and somehow everything made an significant impact, for some reason I felt I understood why they framed the way they did, or waited for the right moment.

What does photography mean to you? and which kind of photography do you like more?
The camera is a strange device. Looking through the viewfinder I am once removed and twice as close. Photography for me means an impulse for life. The photography I like most is when I am absent from the photo. For this reason I am always drawn to street and documentary photography. Street photography in particular is important, because of the way it challenges me. Walking for hours on end my, state of mind is changed, I feel utterly submerged in my environment. It’s a different consciousness for sure.

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When you take a portrait, what is important for you?
Trust, without any hesitation that, is what I want to establish between me and my subject. And only if I choose to be as vulnerable as them will, I get their trust.

Do you think it’s important to follow a school to learn how to shoot?
As for myself, I haven’t had any training, just trail and error.

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What’s the photo you want to take and you never did?
There was an opportunity recently when, a young woman sitting across from me, next to her boyfriend. She looked in my direction but was not seeing me. She was so engaged with something else.

What’s your photo-mission?
To reveal my world and myself, without me being apparent in it.

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A friend of Goran, wrote this about him:

Admitted to a mental hospital claiming to be a kernel of corn, a man is cured of his delusion and discharged, whereupon he sees a chicken and rushes back in, gasping, “There’s a chicken outside!,” to which his psychiatrist replies, “But you know you’re not a kernel of corn,” “Yes,” he says, “I know it — but does the chicken know it?” This paradox of illusion underpins Goran Petkovski’s photography; his body of work, expressed through the disciplines of reportage, portraiture, and street photography, reveals a character that is at once thoughtful and passionate, gritty and lyrical, and tender and probing.

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