Q: Tell us a little bit about your background!
I was born in Vlore, Albania. My dream, when I was a little boy, was to become a professional soccer player like my brother. Photography has always been a hobby for me but life is very unpredictable. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to do photography for a living.
Q: When was the moment you realized you have a passion for photography?
My passion for photography has been an ongoing process. It was when I moved to Canberra in 2011 that I dedicated more time to exploring it. In 2013, I commenced studying at CIT Canberra, graduating in 2016 with a high distinction for the Advanced Diploma of Photography
Q: Do you ever have trouble getting inspired? What do you do when moments like this arise?
I do have occasional drifting moments. When this happens, I tend to explore a new style or get into a new photography project that I am passionate about. It’s these projects that nurture my creative side, allowing me to play and explore my work.
Q: What would you say is the hardest thing about photography?
Photography is an infinite learning process and I find it quite interesting because it constantly challenges me. However, the business side of things can be tough at times.
Q: You won Nature Photographer of the Year with your stunning work, “Black Mountain.” How did you manage to capture nature’s strength in such an impressive (and, quite frankly, intimidating) shot? Were you afraid at all?
When I see storms coming, I get quite excited. I have to say that planning is the key to this kind of photography, but that is not enough. The weather can be unpredictable so when it changes you have to be quick in judgement and adapt to what’s coming to you. While I was monitoring the radar, I saw the eye of the storm changing direction further away from the vantage point than I expected, so I chose to screw the 70-200 lens onto my second camera instead of the usual 24-70mm. It worked well to compress the scenery and really make the lightning stand out. So, I guess that capturing “Black Mountain” derives from experience and a little bit of luck.
Q: Why did you decide on entering this particular photo into the IPA?
It took me over a year to enter this image into a competition because sometimes I am the harshest critic of myself. I had posted it on social media a few months before entering IPA and the image went viral. The impact was incredible so I thought that IPA would be the best place to enter it to allow other professionals to judge it.
Q: Apart from Black Mountain, which work of yours is tied to a notable memory?
There are many images that bring back memories, all images have a story behind it but I should say “Destiny” brings back great memories. It is the image that was awarded 1st Place in Astrophophotography category at IPA 2019. Destiny took a lot of planning and was technically quite challenging.
Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?
Winning a competition at this scale is quite important for many reasons, especially making your work visible to a much wider audience.
Q: If you could do anything or go anywhere, what would your dream photography project be?
Ok, I am going to say it even though it sounds crazy. I have never seen a proper high quality picture from the ISS (International Space Station). So that would be my wildest dream, to go to the ISS and take some pictures.
Q: What is next for you, are you working on anything right now?
There is a project that I am working on but I can’t talk about it for now, let it be a surprise!
Q: You teach photography in various workshops around Australia. What is your main piece of advice to photographers participating there?
The key ingredients to producing good photographs are dedication and hard work. Great photographs take time, so don’t rush and enjoy the journey.