A former pioneer in extreme sports in our region and a great photography-lover, a 35-year-old Belgrader is today one of few chosen ones who record worldwide the craziest sport feats one can conceive. In a country made of contrast and contradiction, normal is more often than not unusual. Or at least, it is not accepted the way it should. What is unnatural and unreasonable often wins over what is supposed to be normal, and those who recognize natural in other people are still in the minority.
As far as Predrag Vuckovic is concerned, extreme has been natural. Since he was a boy. He did not wish it to be otherwise, but he wanted his boyish love to remain an obsession. And a profession. And this is not the end. There are not many people who have more than one obsession in their life, and there are even fewer of those who live all their passions at their most. But he managed. And such an outcome is prehaps extreme, but only in the country from the beginning.
In some other countries, one’s talents and abilities are recognized and supported. Thus, Predrag Vuckovic is today an official Red Bull photographer, in his department named Photofiles – for those who are less acquainted with this, a selected group of people who follow all the activites related to the sportspeople who are being supported and sponsored by the Austrian giant and who record them in a unique way, the way the events themselves are.
The connection between the 35-year-old Belgrader and the part of Dietrich Mateschitz‘s company related to photography is extreme sport. Vuckovic is one of photographers who follow different events worldwide which must be spectacular, unique and weird in at least one their segment. Whether it is a competion in throwing paper planes or a base jump into the crater of an active volcano, in comparison to which, the Formula 1 race may seem as indescribable boredom, Pedja is no stranger to anything, since he himself is into extreme sports, and for many of them, he was a pioneer in former Yugoslavia. Therefore, he thinks that he sees all these events in a way other photographers are not capable of, and that this is his advantage for which, for three years now, he has enjoyed great confidence in Photofiles, but also among the sportsmen who, often, explicitely ask for him to record their exploits with his camera.
– I started with ice hockey, was a junior intrenational. After that, I fell in love with BMX, then with water sports, skate, bike, rollerskates and rollerblades… I was good at everything which has nothing to do with a ball! I brought many of these extreme sports in this or some other bigger country, and, even today, I am into most of them – Vuckovic says. – That is my advantage. I understand the point of an extreme sport, I know which moment is the most important one to be recorded. In my photo, when it comes to, for instance, some jumper, one must see where he was, where he was during the jump and where he will get. A shot is successful only if an observer from it can understand why some action is extreme.
Vuckovic is esteemed by his clients for some other reasons:
– I am the only one who works with more than one camera at the same time, and they know to respect that, particularily because most of the actions related to extreme sports usually last only a few seconds. The best example is the mentioned base jump. The preparations and arrival on the location can even last a few hours, then the fitting of my equipment takes an extra hour, only to see that the jump into a volcano or, for example, from the top of the Dolomites, in the stage important to me for the picture frame, happened in the blink of an eye. And there is no makeup. But, it has never happened to me not to bring from the session the very thing for which they put confidence in me. That is the reason why I am enjoying a good reputation with all kind of extreme sports photography.
There are a lot of them, but Vuckovic got attached to extreme sports which Red Bull follows. One thing, however, causes his satisfaction upon mentioning, and it represents maybe his greatest love…
– Underwater photography… Outdoors, everything happens in a millisecond, you have to follow everything, you mustn‘t miss anything. And underwater – it doesn‘t exist. Everything is peaceful and slow. That is the balance which sometimes I‘m looking for and which makes me feel fulfilled. By the way, I‘ve been into diving for 18 years and it certainly is my favourite when it comes to sports.
But, sometimes Vuckovic cannot resist the need for the adrenalin increase…
– The Cayman Islands and the diving surrounded by sharks – you know right away the goal of the story. – My first encounter with sharks under the water… Uh! Such an encounter may be compared to something extra-adrenalin on the surface. You are looking at something which is behaving in an unpredictible manner and, why doing so – it thinks! A beautiful experience.
Vuckovic says that he is totally fulfilled with respect to photography. He is also into studio photography, but…
– I am the owner of a gym and a fitness studio named “Extreme Gym“, and for eight years already, I have been publishing my own magazine about fitness, X-Fitness, and that‘s why I have to be into studio photography as well. Get me straight, I wouldn‘t do it if I didn‘t like it, especially since I have the need to do this in a somewhat different way, but the unique photos which I want to create have to include travellling, climbing, harassment, bribing the skyscraper and TV tower keeper in the case of a totally illegal jump… without that, it would all be boring.
Due to the nature of his job and the people he follows, Vuckovic often finds himself in awkward and dangerous situations, for which he could, without hesitation, allow himself some fear. But, still, that fear is never present.
– I work with professionals, and I consider myself to be a professional as well. The limit is well-known, and it won‘t be crossed either by them as sportsmen, or by me as a photographer. The limits must be observed.
In his activities, he has his girlfriend‘s great support, who is often his companion on his trips and who stoically endures the sessions that can last up to a few hours.
– I‘m glad she understands the job that I do. She is always by my side, and she often helps me carry the equipment across some never-never land, where even my best friends wouldn‘t go with me…
Therefore, from what has been said, it is obvious that Pedja must observe the main thing in his job in a different way.
– I look through the lens even when it is not with me! I know in advance what I want to have in my frame. If I can‘t imagine the picture in advance, I don‘t turn my camera in that direction. I don‘t ever wish to think, “It can turn out to be good…”
Vuckovic‘s close friend, the top photographer from the USA, not long ago, observing Pedja‘s opus of photos, asked him where he found his inspiration. Vuckovic‘s explanation was simple:
– I observe everything with different eyes. From a seemingly unattractive comeptition “Paper Wings” to my favourite base jump, especially the one on Kamchatka. Fifty per cent of photos are taken thanks to the preparation, the second thing is the matter of a moment, and the photo is finally created of itself.
Vuckovic has decided to work differently. Whether he managed to, the people from over 50 magazines all over the world and a few renowned world agencies, which have also chosen his services, may wonder. He has done his job in more than thirty or so countries in the world, and most engagements were carried out owing to Red Bull Photofiles. His calender is pretty much filled in for the current year, and, along with some well-known destinations and events, there are also some extreme actions which are wrapped up in secrecy, the way the people in Red Bull love doing.
– That‘s why I can‘t have enough of the cooperation with them – Vuckovic smiles enigmatically. – After all these years and numerous adventures, they can still surprise me with some crazy idea. I look forward to it!
Those who do not believe can visit Pedja‘s presentation at www.extreme-photographer.com. That is what, not long ago, one of his friends did, a famous British lawyer, whose statement a lot of mortals would agree with, and likely those who could finally wake up and realize what extreme is – completely natural, “Looking at your photos, I enjoy and try to realize how much adrenalin there is, how much excitement. I have understood that the most exciting thing that can happen in my office is – to cut myself on paper…”
Article by: Dejan Potkonjak