Twenty Years

Bosnia and Herzegovina, or BiH in short, left a big impression on me. I started my first real job in Bosnia. I met my wife in BiH, and both my children were born during the time we lived there (even though they were born elsewhere). It was a formative time, and a time that was exceptional. Bosnia had just come out of a civil war, the first European war since WWII. Thousands of people had been displaced and the cities were ravaged by wanton destruction and ethnically motivated hatred.

What has changed 20 years later? Some say, not much. Others point to new buildings, the improved infrastructure, new shopping malls and a stronger economy. It is probably in the eye of the beholder but I found that much had changed and a lot hadn’t. To illustrate this, I tried to photograph what I had photographed first: street scenes, people, buildings, urban landscapes.

In 1997, I only had one roll of black and white film with me – 36 frames to document a ravaged city. I drove around forever to find a laboratory that could develop the film, impatient to see the results as soon as possible. Inevitably, the lab, which was really a post-war shoestring operation, did a poor job with the development and the images all looked as if they had been taken in the 19th century. To emulate the look in 2018, I photographed in black and white and toned the images down with a moderate silver filter. They are digital and therefore exist also in colour. But I am intentionally not using those: I want to juxtapose before I want to show the new. Consequently, the theme is: 20 years, 1997 to 2018. The comparison starts with the next post.