Mr. Hasanefendic, can you tell us something about yourself?
My name is Mirza Hasanefendić. I am a photographer born and raised in Sarajevo, but what’s interesting about me now is the location of my new home, which is Los Angeles. That is where I’ve been living and working with my wife Lamija for the past 4 years.
You are a keen photographer. How did you get to where you are today? Do you have any interesting stories to share with our readers?
How I got to where I am today? Well, to be honest a lot of things had to happen to make me what I am now. I grew up in an artistic family. My father is a famous painter whose paintings are even kept in the vaults of Vatican gallery as precious art, many members of my family have made their careers in music, art or poetry. So it wasn’t so strange when I chose my life path to lead towards art. You never know what little coincidence will define your life, and for me that was when I failed my photography exam by accident. Because of that, I had to spend months in the dark room, really focusing on that art form. It made me fall in love with all possibilities that photography can offer, especially with the coming of a new digital age.
Having obtained BA in graphic design, logical next step was to pursue career in an advertising agency. I did just so and spent few years working for international clients like United Nations and Coca-Cola. But, as time moved on, I also moved away from graphic design and transitioned completely to the exciting world of commercial photography – and never looked back.
Can you tell us about the hardest time in your career?
Well, I think the hardest time in anyone’s career is when there are no job prospects or any real challenge that presents a possibility of “closing shop” so to speak. For me, that was the move to LA. It is hard when you land on a new continent and try to start over. But what I learned in life is that every challenge is a possibility to grow, so I adjusted, and meeting new people is now a joyful and optimistic experience. Out of that hard time I gained real friendships, fell in love with this city and it’s people, and have a new appreciation for life. Take every day as they come and get to know people because they will surely surprise you in the best possible way.
Was it difficult for you, being a Bosnian, to prove yourself in USA?
Surprisingly it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. We were welcomed from the moment we landed, and have not had a single awkward or uncomfortable situation in the four years we have lived here. It took time to get to know people, because without people you can’t really do or achieve anything. People here are incredibly kind, open minded, curious and above all friendly. The concept of networking is really amazing. When people meet for coffee and talk, there is no talk about politics or any other topic that could make the other person uncomfortable, but instead they share experiences and their expertise so if the opportunity arises you know just the person who could do that sort of thing, so you can refer them or their services. It is not bragging to talk about all of the stuff you can do and are good at, in fact that is encouraged. I enjoy socializing because there is always something new to learn, and to share as well.
How did people react when you told them that you are Bosnian?
Some know where Bosnia is, and surprisingly know a lot about our history. Many don’t, but most know about Sarajevo because of Mrs. Angelina Jolie and Mr. Brad Pitt.
How did you manage to become one of the best photographers in Los Angeles?
Moving to LA, and in a way starting over was a huge challenge, but that’s where your work starts actually working for you. Moving from Europe to LA is the very pinnacle of the concept “get out of your comfort zone”. I love this city and everything it stands for. To me, LA is a state of mind and it had taught me a lot, but I am still learning. Business, presentation, a way of life, way of thinking. It has helped me get my everyday job as a University Photographer. Then I had the good fortune to meet a lot of creative and friendly people. And when the opportunity presents itself to work on interesting projects you should jump on it, at least that’s what I did. A lot of collaboration and personal projects helped to get my name out there. That’s actually the only thing you can do – do your best and hope it gets noticed.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Five years, if you had asked me that 5 years ago I wouldn’t have even dreamt about the life I have now, here in LA half a world away from home. But what I can say now, from this point of view, is that future looks exciting and filled with possibilities. I plan on further improving in product photography because it is turning out to be just right for me. So, I will never stop learning. And of course, everything that goes along with it – investing in new camera gear, studio and lighting equipment and few accessories. Hopefully more exhibitions, and let’s see where the road takes us?
More interesting photographs can be seen on Mirza Studio.
Interview by Zejna SY