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Podcast Episode 37: This is Aleks Kus

Delighted to have the great Aleks Kus with us for episode 37 of the This is Reportage Podcast! Based in Slovenia, winner of 7 Reportage Awards and a Story Award, Aleks was a delight to talk to, and really inspirational. Tune in today as he shares so much, including:

  • about Slovenia (and how it is the only country to have ‘love’ in its name),
  • the effect of corona in Slovenia and for him personally,
  • how he’s blind in one eye (how that happened and how its affected him),
  • his journey into weddings and his wedding motto,
  • tips for finding and honing your own style,
  • some film recommendations,
  • happiness, and what his time in hospital taught him,
  • the story of one of his Reportage Awards,
  • why he personally enters awards,
  • why communication is key,
  • knowing his wife from age 7 and why they always shoot together,
  • being a parent and a wedding photographer too,
  • his top tips for just starting out,
  • his all-time favourite image,
  • and much more…

Listen on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube and below in this post with a full transcript.

Alan:

Hey Aleks, how are you doing?

Aleks:

Hey, Alan, thank you. I’m really good, actually awesome these days so yeah.

Alan:

Aw, that’s super to hear, that’s really good. Yeah, I mean, cause you’re in Slovenia, aren’t you?

Aleks Kus

Aleks:

Yes, I’m living in Slovenia, that’s cool. It is only country in the world which has a name, in the name love if you write it down, it’s ‘love’ in the name of the country.

Alan:

Oh that’s cool. I never noticed that, I like that.

Aleks:

Yeah, it is a special name for… a lot of people know Slovenia just for this ‘love’ between the letters.

Alan:

Ah, that’s really cool. Oh a very romantic place to get married then, I guess, as well

Aleks:

Actually, it is. There is a lot of destination weddings, especially in the place called Lake Bled if you had anytime hear this place?

Alan:

I think I have.

Aleks:

Yeah, yeah. It’s very… it’s like well known place, lake, which has an island in the middle. And it is facing towards the castle, which is uphill, it’s tremendous super place.

Alan:

That’s cool. Do you do you live near there, do you?

Aleks:

I actually live one hour and a half, if there is a normal traffic, and let’s say less than two hours. It is a usually during the summer is the roads are pretty busy. So yeah, let’s say one hour and a half away.

Alan:

Cool, not bad. I’d love to visit you know, I’d love to visit some day.

Aleks:

You need to visit, you need to visit. Slovenia is a very, very small country, only 2 million people live there. And you can be in the mountains and about two hours of driving, you are already in the sea side.

Alan:

Oh, it sounds lush.

Aleks:

Yes, it is, it is. It is beautiful nature, it is very similar to Swiss or let’s say some parts of Austria but most beautiful.

Alan:

Oh, it sounds lovely. I’m gonna come sometime, I’m gonna come sometime

Aleks:

Yes, please. You’re very welcome

Alan:

Thank you That’s very kind and you’re very welcome to come over to England as well. Have you ever been over here?

Aleks:

Yes few times. The last time I was just one year ago… it was Snap festival.

Alan:

Cool, yeah in Wales?

Aleks:

In the Wales. Yes, I was with my wife we were speaker there so yeah, it’s already one year ago. And I still remember because there was a super time, super people so yeah.

Alan:

Aw, that’s cool. Yeah, I went to the first Snap. I was a speaker at the first Snap and I loved it a lot.

Aleks:

I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.

Alan:

It’s a cool atmosphere there wasn’t it? It was a lovely…

Aleks:

Yeah, I love this gathering you know we almost one week live with the unknown person and talk about everything, everyone are super relaxed and super open. So yeah, yeah, I would love to come again but unfortunately, there wouldn’t be any Snaps at this… how should I say?

Alan:

Yeah, in foreseeable future maybe I guess

Aleks:

I hope I hope but not in this formula you know, maybe some smaller or some kind but yeah, it was most beautiful time.

Aleks Kus

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. Laura is…

Aleks:

One of the best, one the… yeah, Laura is super fun and super person and actually one of the best conferences ever I was attended.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, I loved my time there as well. It is special. It was awesome. It was awesome. Can you tell us then a little bit more about this situation with Coronavirus with you because I think it’s quite different to the UK. I think for example…

Aleks:

As I know, it’s totally different. We are almost fully opened yet. The weddings are back, which is super fun. No limitations, maximum allowed people so no restrictions only in some public places there was restrictions with limit of people. But with this Monday, they raise it up to 500. So…

Alan:

Wow so that’s almost exactly the same then and weddings are just normal. Just to say if anyone’s listening to this or when they’re listening to it, we’re recording this on the 17th of June and in the UK, you know, there’s no weddings happening at all, let alone even with social distancing, you know, it’s not happening. So it’s very different where you are,

Aleks:

You know, when you start with weddings?

Alan:

No we still don’t know, it was only two days ago that non-essential shops opened. So it’s a lot slower than it’s been for you. I guess you’ve not had many cases have you then?

Aleks:

We have only…So the thing is, there wasn’t many cases, but unfortunately, we opened the borders with our neighbors and there are new cases now. And politely or how should I say, the people start talking about second wave, you know, which could happened, unfortunately, which could happened. I hope not. I hope not. And so, yeah, we have only 1500 cases until today.

Alan:

Wow, that’s so different.

Aleks:

Yeah, total different.

Alan:

That’s great though and so you were able to shoot a wedding was it just this weekend you shot?

Aleks:

Yeah, this was my first working weekend. Unfortunately, for this year, I have only three weddings, so two left. And every other weddings are postponed to the 21/22 and also 23

Alan:

It’s a nightmare…I guess you get a lot of people may be traveling to your country to get married?

Aleks:

Exactly, exactly. I do. Most of my weddings are abroad. Usually I do 70% abroad because Austria is only one hour driving from me, which is a super cool place and a lot of weddings are there for us. And yeah, a lot of people also came here in Slovenia to have a wedding here. So I think most of them they are canceled now or not canceled, just postponed to the next years.

Alan:

That’s good. You’ve been able though to postpone most of them then, that’s good.

Aleks:

Yeah, I didn’t lose any of the weddings.

Alan:

That’s really good.

Aleks

All my weddings have stayed but yeah they are postponed.

Alan:

Right? Okay. Well, what a nightmare year it’s been, isn’t it? But next year should be good, next year should be good.

Aleks:

I hope, I hope, I hope I hope so.

Alan:

So, something you told me about before this interview, which I didn’t know at all, is that you’re totally blind in one eye, which obviously, yeah, I’m very sorry to hear about that.

Aleks:

No, no, no, no problem

Alan:

Because it’s even more amazing. You know how good a photographer you are as well. Yeah, can you tell us a bit about that then?

Aleks:

Actually, I was not saying but I didn’t speak public about this before my first conferences I attended as a speaker. Actually, this was my first time and also a lot of my friends didn’t know that I am completely blind on one eye. I’m not 100% blind, but imagine you using one lens and do it, just rotate the focus to the unfocused place, you know, it’s totally blur, is the word blur?

Alan:

Right

Aleks:

So, yeah, it is only 5% of the eye which is left. Everything happened, it was my fault back in 1970 not 1971, 997

Alan:

Yes. Oh yeah 1997

Aleks:

1997, yes sorry, sorry

Alan:

That’s okay, you’re not that old. I know you’re not that old

Aleks:

Yes, I’m becoming older. But I think yeah, it was totally my fault because we run also another business which is totally unrelated with photography, totally different. It is the business of my family. And we run… it is not a workshop we producing, at that time it was car radiators. Now they are… we produced special daters for heating cooling the machines and heavy duty stuff and I was working there helping and I used brushing machine you know for the gathering. There was a special brush with the label 6900 rpm and I was put it on the machine with 20,000 rpm and this brushing grinder explode and it explode in my eyes. So yeah, I left there my eye.

Alan:

Oh man, that’s so awful, that’s awful though that must have been. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been

Aleks:

For the moment it was because I already working as a photographer this time around it was… I was 18 years old that time so yeah, it happened in a split of a second you know that bomb and everything is done

Alan:

Did you think then that maybe you weren’t ever gonna be able to carry on with photography at that time is that what…

Aleks:

Yes, yes because the biggest problem to get used to was depth of field you know, because when you are using only one eye the things which are in depth are different if you one of… with the two eye, it’s totally, totally different. So, but during the years I find myself totally comfortable. I somehow learn a new way. So yeah, now I work without any problems.

Alan:

Well, yeah, your work is amazing.. Wow. It’s amazing. So then, so you were doing some photography at that time you were 18…

Aleks:

Actually I was starting I was starting in the basic school. I think I was, it was eighth or seventh grade. We have some class after the school with the photography because we have the one teacher as a hobby photographer, and I was attending this class. And yeah, yeah, I started there.

Alan:

Yeah. How old were you then then in that grade?

Aleks:

11, 12 maybe something.

Alan:

That’s a nice young age to get into photography.

Aleks:

Yes, it was a nice age. And it was my, my daughter was 11 also when I took her for the first wedding.

Alan:

Oh, cool. Wow. That’s great. So how did you how did you get into shooting weddings then? What was your kind of yeah, journey into wedding?

Aleks:

A long journey, a long journey. As I mentioned, I was working… starting in this basic school class as a second part, or how can I describe as add class, you know, to the school?

Alan:

Yeah.

Aleks:

Afterwards the middle school or high school has the same class, you know.

Alan:

Okay.

Aleks

And I was starting there as a journalist for the school paper, small school paper. I was a journalist, I covered some dances, some parties, some happening around the school. And afterwards, I was starting with studio photography, product photography. And the meantime, I was also covering the motor races and there was a start of the journalistic approach to the to the photography, I loved it immediately, it had just blown my mind. And I also had a have a friend which already have been good photographer and while I was always with one eye, you know that feeling be what should I say alert to the to the wedding business you know? And in 2005 I think it was 2005 I shot my first wedding in film that time

Alan:

Oh really on film, really?

Aleks:

On film Yes because there was only beginning of the digital and digital camera was at that time very expensive.

Alan:

Oh. Okay, yeah. What was that like shooting a wedding on film. You know, I’ve never done that before.

Aleks:

Yeah Most people never done but if you ask me, everyone should try once shooting a wedding in the film. It was you know, I know how to capture the events I know how to capture the happenings so for me, it wasn’t so stressful. but afterwards I decided to go fully weddings. But if I want to go fully weddings, I want to know everything and set my price for the first wedding like my friends have the price now so not dumping the price with the beginning. That’s how I started, yeah then I went fully in weddings in 2007

Alan:

Right so about 13 years full time.

Aleks:

15 years it will be this year. Yeah.

Alan:

Wow. Cool. That’s a good amount of time, isn’t it? That is a good amount. You must have seen a lot over that time. You must have seen a lot.

Aleks:

I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen everything. You know, actually I hate weddings. I really hate weddings as a weddings today because of their trends they want to sell what is trendy today on social media for few fake likes, you know and followers and no one thinks how the couple and their family will be looking these photos after years when there will be totally different times trends and therefore this will be representing what actually was happening on the wedding. So who why what when where are my five questions which we need to answer before we grab a camera to show the wedding with the meaning for years to be coming you know, so yeah, this is my motto now for weddings.

Alan:

That’s cool and did you always shoot your weddings in a kind of you know photojournalistic way even from the beginning or did you kind of change?

Aleks:

Actually, the only things I changed is clarity of approach to the portrait and shooting time just for the couple because I’m boring with normal today’s trend images, I always try to do something different if I can. But most of the time, yes, it is always, let’s say 70 80% is journalistic way. But in my way, you know, in my way,

Alan:

Yeah. Oh, it’s so important to do it in in your way.

Aleks:

Exactly Yes, yes, yes. I always teach in my, in my workshops, I always teach that we all have different fingerprints, you know. And if you have 10 people going to shoot the same wedding, you will get the 10 different results in the end. So it’s very important to know that.

Aleks Kus

Alan:

And that’s the beauty of it as well, isn’t it? It would be boring if we all took things the same way if we all saw the world the same way.

Aleks:

Exactly, exactly, exactly. Because it is in the human nature to create, you know, but our fear can limit our subconscious mind to copy what is already succesful so, yeah, for me it’s very important to be to shoot in my way and find my ideal couples and clients which are related to my final product.

Alan:

No it totally makes sense. Do you have any advice for maybe photographers who are listening who, you know they don’t know what their style is or they don’t really know how they want to shoot and they maybe keep comparing themselves to other photographers? Do you have any, yeah, any advice for them?

Aleks:

Yes, I have a few maybe can help someone. First one is patience, patience, patience, patience because everyone wants to let’s say they want to buy a camera today and for next day want to be successful so patience is the key here. Good communications with the couples are really, really important. And find your own way not copying others, just trying, trying, trying different things, find the inspirations in other parts of the photography for like to mention my inspirations is always in street photography and in kitchen and in cooking magazines.

Alan:

Oh really? Cool.

Aleks:

Yeah, yeah. Because they are they are so creative you know and I like this, I like this. So yeah, find your own way, find our own way. Patience, patience, patience.

Alan:

That’s great advice, man. That’s great advice. Yeah and you mentioned street photography, do you do street photography yourself or do you just enjoy looking?

Aleks:

I do but I never show in public. I just try different things, different way different approach, just trying to be patience and waiting for the moments to happen, so yeah, my training is street photography yeah because after let’s say in my older ages, I would like to work as a street photographer.

Alan:

Yeah, cool. Okay, that sounds great. You know, I’ve never tried it I need to try it. I really do. I’ve never done it

Aleks:

I find, so many same way, you know. that for me wedding and street photography is like one you know, they both have dealing with the people and the story about the people because weddings are people and stories to tell about this community of people, their family, moments which happened and the same moments you can find in street photography. Maybe they are not so emotional, but looking from the composition and light and waiting for the moments are the same.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s so true, that’s cool. You can’t see me but I’m nodding away here Yeah, that’s so cool, it’s great, cool. Let’s change tack slightly now then.

Aleks:

Let’s do it.

Alan:

This is great, I really enjoy talking to you, this is fun. What’s your kind of like? Do you have a recommendation for favorite kind of Netflix series? Are you watching much TV at the moment? Do you?

Aleks:

What is Netflix? No, no, Netflix is one of the things which it’s in the regular base for my wife. She’s constantly watching different series. But I with the series I have a big problem because if I start looking one series I want to look it from the start, to the beginning. And this can they take ages you know, so no series are not for me, I’m not a big fan of the series, but I’m a big fan of movies.

Alan:

Oh, okay.

Aleks:

I like good movies with the story with the good storytelling with the good compositional lights. So yeah, I’m…

Alan:

Cool, what’s one of your… have you watched anything good recently?

Aleks:

Recently I was watching 1917

Alan:

Oh yes, that’s brilliant. Isn’t it?

Aleks

Brilliant movie, really brilliant movie. And the Joker was another big for me not this year last year and my all time favorite movie is Aida, do you know that movie

Alan:

No I don’t. Oh think… I remember I’ve never seen it but I think I remember seeing like to see it. Yeah, what’s it about then?

Aleks:

Ah for me one of the best movie in terms of photography, capturing light composition and storytelling. One of the best I think I watch it 20 times.

Alan:

Really?

Aleks:

Yeah. Yeah, I just can’t stop watching. I don’t know why but it is for me is beautiful. You should watch it.

Alan:

Oh okay, I will.

Aleks:

It’s in full version in YouTube so no problem.

Alan:

Oh, okay cool. Well that’s a very strong recommendation that you’ve watched it 20 times. It must be good. It must be good.

Aleks:

It is good. It is good because every time you watch it, you will learn something different, you know, and you can use it next time on the wedding.

Alan:

Okay, cool. I will definitely watch it. I will definitely watch it.

Aleks:

Please, please

Aleks:

Okay, different kind of question when, when you’ve reached old age, you know, sometime in the future, and you’re looking back at your life. What would you like to think about the life that you’ve led?

Aleks:

My life is so good.

Alan:

Oh, that’s great though man.

Aleks:

Yeah, there will be… you know, I always try to be happy. I always try to be happy, I always try to have a good day and not bad days because my accident with my eye taught me so much for the future, which I’m grateful to happened seriously. So what was the… good question. Can I think and answer later.

Alan:

Yeah you can you can definitely I think that’s great, you sound so positive and so happy as well. It must have been… when that accident happened though, I mean, did you go through a kind of depression at the time it must have been…

Aleks:

No, no luckily I was I was so young and I don’t have any depressions going on at that time. The only thing which I start to think about it was people because I was lying almost one month, three weeks to one month in the in the hospital and I have seen so many tragically people there you know, with really hard stories behind I talk so much with others and there was my actually perfect months need was there, I…

Alan:

Really?

Aleks:

Yeah. yeah imagine being in the hospital in trauma for one month and you will see every day new person with an accident, and you can you can speak about out it openly and you can… It was really good time and I learned so much for the future and for my life there. One thing was I never lived the life through the money, but through the happiness if I can.

Aleks Kus

Alan:

That’s so cool. I think that just so wise man it’s so interesting. It really, really is cool. Oh great, great. Let’s go back to your photography specifically and one of my favorite Reportage awards of yours is the one where it’s a guy who looks to be sleeping in the foreground while some ladies in the background okay (above)? Yeah, I love it. It’s like proper real. Okay. Can you tell us about that?

Aleks:

Yes sure, yes sure, yes sure. This image was I think I made it in 2018. Actually the guy who is sleeping is a brother of the bride.

Alan:

Oh okay.

Aleks:

She’s getting ready in behind him if you are looking the image, there is a foreground, the guy is sleeping in the bed. Behind are the wife of this guy, which are doing the makeup for the bride which is a sister of this guy and there is also a best friend of both of them. So it was the first time actually in 2018 I switched the system from Canon to Nikon and one of the good, I now am using 850 so one of the good side of this camera, if you are in live view it has a silent shutter you know I immediately know that I can use it because the guy sleeping and if I do like a real shutter, you know like bam bam bam. I will wake him up. So the silent shutter I use open… I think is F 11 or F 10. So everything is in focus and I just move my camera to live view and do few snaps. But at the same time I saw in my LCD that there is also a TV on and I just wait for the perfect… I don’t know something happened on the TV or not and I will press the shutter. So in the end I have maybe I don’t know 50, 70 frames of that scene and one of them is this image.

Alan:

Ah, cool. It’s so interesting to hear your thought process behind that is and I love it, that image is just so real, you know, it’s something that…

Aleks:

I like real approach and real because for me the meaning of the wedding is most beautiful, and to show people how it was you know, to get the feeling, how it was, not some fake, not some stage but look, this was happening in real time and I’ve been there and I just press shot on my camera.

Alan:

It’s super, so, so good. And it’s really interesting to hear how, you know, all those people know each other really well. They’re like family or in a relationship. So it’s not just a makeup artist or something.

Aleks:

Yes, yes. Yes

Alan:

Very cool. So if anyone’s listening whilst running or cycling or anything, do head to the site, and I’ll include that image that we that Aleks just spoke about. Yeah, it’s it’s a cracker. It’s great. And speaking of which, you’ve won so many awards, including seven Reportage Awards and a Story Award from us and you’ve won loads of awards from other associations too which is awesome. What for you keeps you entering awards, you know, because everyone has different reasons. So why do you specifically enter awards?

Aleks:

A good question. For me, I’m obsessed with Sorry, sorry, I’m honest guy….

Alan:

Honesty is good.

Aleks:

Always good. Yeah I’m kind of obsessed with my images, you know, kind of obsessed. I have two folders one is my ‘Best Of’ images which has until now, I will just open… ‘Best Of’… it has 1325 images.

Alan:

Wow, that’s quite a lot of best images.

Aleks:

Another one is my favorite images, not the best one but favorite. It is 3,700 you know? I just… it is from 2011 until 2019. I didn’t include any of images from this year now yet. I hope I can but we will see because there isn’t so many weddings. So yeah, I always try to compete, not to get an award, but to see my development for the future.

Alan:

Right.

Aleks:

Sounds great, that’s sense?

Alan:

Yeah, that makes total sense. Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a really good idea of having separate folders like that actually for your favorite images. That’s something I’ve never done. I think that makes really good sense. Do you get nervous shooting weddings at all?

Aleks:

Yes, always

Alan:

Oh do you? Still? Even after 15 years? That’s cool

Aleks:

Yeah, after the 15 years after the, I think 500 plus weddings I’m still in the… not the day before wedding because I love my communication with the couple. I say the communications is 70% of the wedding, I would like to know everything about my couples, I would like to know basically all because we are all working together. And also our meetings are Always been together. And my questions are sometimes really disturbing for them maybe

Alan:

Really? What, kind of questions?

Aleks:

I asked directly, you know, everything guys, almost everything I don’t have any, breaks or the things I wouldn’t ask, I ask everything because everything is important for me to capture the wedding for them and to create the story for them. So I ask almost everything which came to my mind at that time you know this is very important for me, this is very important to me to create the process for them. And I never have been nervous before the wedding but in the morning when of the wedding I’m always have some butterflies in my stomach still, you know? Still whenever we drive to the weddings I go to my mind if I ask these okay this will happen now Okay, I need to see the people, I need to see interactions I need to see how the story will go and to be there and to press the shutter at the right time. Actually, I can describe the moments from this Saturday, the wedding was super easy, nothing special nothing stressful, super people. And after the ceremony usually they play some the band or some singer plays some music, but mom of the bride decided, to order some special guests for the singing. And the bride and groom didn’t know, didn’t know that, you know. I was watching them they start to talking about they are playing the wrong song, what was going on? And I immediately step in front of them and just wait I think I don’t know three four minutes almost all songs I just capture two of them you know just bride and groom nothing else I have so many crazy moments from that part but if I don’t know before I will miss this moment.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s really interesting to hear as well. That’s awesome.

Aleks:

And I always speak with the people when I arrived to the wedding, I always asked Mom, I invite to the separate place or some outside and ask, do you prepare something special for them because I need to know. I ask mother, father of the bride, from the groom sides from the best men so yeah, I would like to know everything in front to be ready to nail the moment.

Alan:

That’s great advice. I need to do that more I don’t do that.

Aleks:

Yes you need to, so, so crucial for weddings, I cannot describe, when I teach in the workshops, and I do a lot of these This time, I always spend three to four hours just about communications, because they are so crucial for capturing the storytelling…

Alan:

Yeah,

Aleks:

…Wedding.

Alan:

That’s great advice, man. That is great advice. And in terms of marketing for you, you know, and getting yourself out there and getting your weddings what’s been the most effective tool for you?

Aleks:

Be honest, be honest, to people. As I’ve mentioned, good communications. Until now I never market myself. Yes. I try time to time with the Facebook advertising or something else but mouth to mouth, good words are the best one. I do a lot of marketing because I want to do more three days event you know, like weekend weddings or starting Thursday until Sunday or maybe even Monday.

Aleks Kus

Alan:

Okay.

Aleks:

So I tried to do different… to market myself in a different way. So I approach a lot of… I work a lot with… sorry, sorry. I confused. I work a lot with wedding planners.

Alan:

Okay, cool.

Aleks:

Yeah.

Alan:

Do you enjoy working with wedding planners?

Aleks:

Yes, yes, yes.

Alan:

That’s cool, and that’s helped get those kind of longer, kind of bigger weddings then I guess.

Aleks:

Yes, in the future. I would like to have five to 10 weddings only, but all of them will be the bigger one.

Alan:

Yeah, that makes sense, that makes sense. Cool. Okay, let’s let’s change tack slightly again, if you could choose one day in your life to live over and over again like Groundhog Day, I mean have you seen Groundhog Day?

Aleks:

Yeah, of course.

Alan:

Yeah, I’m so glad I love that film. I love it. Yeah, if you could choose one day which day would it be?

Aleks:

Can I say my life?

Alan:

That’s good, that’s lovely yeah

Aleks:

But if I need to choose one day, that will be two days when my girl was born Larissa for the first time and Stella second. Yeah, definitely my two perfect days.

Alan:

Oh, that’s lovely, man, that’s really nice. How old are they?

Aleks:

15 and 17.

Alan:

Wow. All right, cool. What’s it like having you know old teenagers then ?

Aleks:

You know we never had any problem because we are so connected as a family, we never argue. With my wife, we are together almost… we know each other from seven years old…

Alan:

What, your wife really?

Aleks:

Yeah, yeah because we were neighbors, almost neighbors. She was living in a part with… how to say but this, a lot of places, a lot of flats in the building

Alan:

Oh like a multi-storey or?

Aleks:

Yeah, yeah she was living there and I was living 100m near the house.

Alan:

Wow and you were friends from seven, that’s amazing

Aleks:

We are friends from seven but later on we just… our path was like I was going to Ljubljana to school and she was staying in… And after I think it was we were 19 year old, we came together and until now we are together and we never fight. We decided to never fight always speaks openly, politely and we never fight and this, we also teach our girls So, we are connected… everything we can say everything is open to discuss so Yeah, perfect.

Alan:

That’s very cool.

Aleks:

It will change a little bit because now the other one is already in Ljubljana for two years abroad schooling and the smaller one Stella will follow her. So next year we will be home alone.

Alan:

Oh yeah.

Aleks:

That will be our next chapter of our life. So we will see how it goes.

Alan:

Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be great. It’ll be great but it’ll be strange, won’t it be? Just the two of you again, it will be strange.

Aleks:

It will be a little bit strange. But as I mentioned, I work on so many fields, and my day is pretty busy all the time. So, yeah, it will be different.

Alan:

Yeah. next chapter, next chapter and do you always shoot with your wife as well?

Aleks:

Always, always I was only two times alone. And I was so, so misery, you know, I just miss her, I miss her. A lot of time, she’s just there you know, not shooting but is with me. I always can have someone to speak with them to I don’t know, say if something bother me during the wedding, if something is not okay as I feel not good or something. You know, I always have someone. So yeah, it was only two times and never again, never.

Alan:

Wow, that’s cool. I think that’s quite an awesome story how you knew each other from seven, been together for 19 and work together and you don’t argue at all it’s amazing

Aleks:

But we work together in all our companies, you know, not just in photography also in my parent’s company. Yeah, so yeah, we are basically 24/7 together

Alan:

It’s awesome. It’s romantic. Cool very cool. Okay Aleks what’s something, it’s a strange question but I quite like it, what’s something that you really love but that most people seem to hate?

Aleks:

Oh, good question hard question, strange question.

Alan:

Yeah, I know it is a strange question. Or you can think of it the other way around. What’s something that you hate that most people seem to love?

Aleks:

What I hate? I hate concentration. Oh, no, no, no, no, what I hate. I hate basically, nothing.

Alan:

Yeah. You do sound very positive.

Aleks:

I don’t hate, I always have something to say you k now, but I never hate. I just say I will never hate no one you k now and nothing and try to be in that way. Ah, I can speak I can close off, think about everything if you want you know, but not hating, not hating.

Alan:

That’s cool. Good way to be that’s a good way to be cool. . Let’s go to something else can you tell us something that you’re really bad at?

Aleks:

I’m really bad at… oh yes. Writing, writing is I’m very bad because…

Alan:

Oh really

Aleks:

Yeah, I also have a… writing with the hands you know, not typing with the computer writing, because I also have dyslexia, very strong one. And my hands wasn’t meant to be writing with, so I’m really catastrophic at that, yes.

Alan:

Okay, that’s funny and have you made… I always find this question interesting. Have you ever made any really memorable mistakes maybe in shooting weddings or in business or in life? You know, any mistakes?

Aleks:

Yeah, a lot of missed opportunities. Because I’m passionate also about business. But I always made my head change, weddings, for me, are not the business because they are because we are to connect it with the clients, you know, and we are selling an art which for me, I don’t use, like business, even in the end is some profit, some money. But for the real business, I have another job and other things. So yeah, I love to invest in some new business or some motors a lot of times help with some DS if I can, and there was a lot of missing…

Alan:

Opportunities?

Aleks:

…Missing opportunities, yes, yes yes, too much, too much. Yeah. Because you know, there is so much things going on around us and the time is one of the biggest problem, it is always less not… I will be really happy that the day will be twenty seven hour long, but unfortunately it isn’t so yeah, yeah. A few good opportunities yeah this is it.

Alan:

That’s cool. Yeah, it’s really interesting as well. And I like the way you mentioned happiness again there and it’s something that I just really enjoy talking about… the whole concept of happiness really. So yeah what is happiness to you? You know what does it mean to you to be happy?

Aleks Kus

Aleks:

It will be funny now, but I will say directly for me happiness is to be happy in the bus and not crying in the Ferrari

Alan:

I’ve not heard that, that’s that’s very cool.

Aleks:

Yeah, yeah because I I look at life a little bit different and happiness is something I really miss from anybody you know? And it is …the time is so short and the life is so short and the accident happened it can happen in any time so we need to be happy during all time.

Alan:

So interesting yeah I so agree man it’s like oh really enjoy talking to you, it’s cool. How have you found because I think this a subject which a lot of people are quite interested in, obviously with you being a parent

Aleks:

Yeah.

Alan:

How have you found it over the years? You know, balancing being a wedding photographer and your other business interests as well as being a parent you know, has it been difficult?

Aleks:

Stressful, stressful because I’m also very… the words which will be hard to… I will describe. I’m very worried about my daughters, you know, I always ask them be safe, watch on the road, watch on the car. And yeah, this is my biggest, not biggest but a huge pressure on me and traveling so many times during the year and be away from them. It was stressful when both of the girls was younger, these days it’s much, much, much easier, much, much easier. One is because the older one live in Lublyana, you know, and the youngest one was always home alone. But it is much better now than it was in the past.

Alan:

Okay

Aleks:

Yes stressful, stressful really stressful. I couldn’t imagine… maybe this was related because the date, the time when we become a parents we were really young.

Alan:

Okay

Aleks:

Let’s say younger you know not so young but younger. Yeah, I think we had 23/24 when Larissa was born. So I couldn’t imagine being I don’t know, 30, and have a small one and doing the destination weddings.

Alan:

That’s so true.

Aleks:

I just couldn’t, but I constantly think about that because I know a lot of my friends and yeah, I respect them.

Alan:

Yeah, definitely I agree.

Aleks:

Definitely.

Alan:

What would be because a wide range of people will be listening to this you know some people who have been shooting for a long time some people are just starting out what would be your kind of top tips for people who are just starting out in the industry you know, right now.

Aleks:

Don’t let your ego drives you.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s cool.

Aleks:

Because ego is, is a big problem of our industry, huge problem as I see so many times. Forget about ego. It is… you are not a wedding photographer for yourself but always for your couple. Always and you are always shooting for them not for yourself. Even you need to shoot 100% for them and 120% for yourself because this 20% can lead you to the next job, you know. Yeah, ego is the one of the biggest problem so forget about this try practicing as much as you can and try to find where you find most comfortable if you find your most comfortable shooting weddings in a PJ styles so in a photojournalistic style, do more of that and show only this type of images if you’re trying to be I don’t know mix of them try to be a journalist and try to do some creative portraits if you want to be most of the… if your plan or your concept is being a wedding photographer, as today’s trends, show only this nothing else.

Alan:

That’s great advice, I think. Yeah, top stuff, man. Great, cool. Imagine you’ve just shot a wedding, What is the first thing you do when you get back home?

Aleks:

Open a beer and drink it?

Alan:

Yeah.

Aleks:

No joking but I do that. Yes. I always… when I came home I always drink one beer.

Alan:

Aw cool, yeah.

Aleks Kus

Aleks:

When I drink the beer going into the shower I always copy immediately my stuff to the backup and when I go sleep I do a second copy, that’s it. That is my number one tip. I’m so… I think you asked me before what is most stressful during the wedding is being let’s say in other parts of the world and carrying around a camera with already shot the wedding you know. So you’ll have a images for the clients and you have a gear and you are in some desert.

Alan:

Oh Yeah

Aleks:

And you know, this is stressful. I’ve never been relaxed going to the destination because I already knew what is in front of me.

Alan:

Right, Have you ever had any kind of data loss or anything?

Aleks:

No, no, no, I knock it on the wood, I knock it on the wood.

Alan:

Yeah, I do that all the time.

Aleks:

No, I never I never. I always try to double check everything. When we came back to hotel, let’s say or Airbnb, I immediately copy my cards to the external drive. And the one drive is with Irena and cards are with me or just separate,

Alan:

Right okay.

Aleks:

Yeah, always, always double checking everything.

Alan:

Yeah Oh, that would be a nightmare, wouldn’t it? It would be a nightmare. It would be a nightmare

Aleks:

Couldn’t imagine. I don’t think about it

Alan:

Let’s touch wood again. My wife bought me a wooden iPhone case because I touch wood all the time. And now I’ve got wood on me all the time, which is really handy.

Aleks:

Yeah.

Alan:

Aleks, what’s more important to you if any of them are more important to you, composition, lights or moment?

Aleks:

They’re all important for me but moments are first, composition, light are second, because I couldn’t… If I asked, if you speak like this, couldn’t decide… light or composition because for me are the same, you know, but when I’m teaching I always say moments, light, composition.

Alan:

Right. Yeah, that makes sense, totally agree. Cool, man. I think again, it’s flown by so quickly. It’s so lovely talking to you. I’ve never spoken to you before and it’s just so nice, man. It’s just so interesting. I’m going to ask one more… okay one more question. I know this is probably a really hard question as well but can you think of a certain photo that you took that’s had some kind of lasting impact on you perhaps that…

Aleks:

Yes.

Alan:

Oh okay, that’s great. Tell us about that.

Aleks:

Yes, yes, yes. Again, it’s connected to my family. I was shooting my cousin’s wedding back in 2014. And there was a scene (above) where on the picture were my mom, my aunt, my grandma, my wife, Irena, and both of the girls and they are perfectly balancing, the composition is strong. And yeah this is my all-time favorite images, and only one image I love, only one. I ha– not hate my images, but I always find ‘Oh, I could do this better. Oh, I could do this also better’ or in terms of editing or composition or light, I always find something, something which could be better.

Alan:

Oh, really? Wow, that’s so interesting because on one hand, you seem so happy and so positive, I would have thought that you would be just really happy with your work because it’s so good as well. You know,

Aleks:

I’m never happy because I try to shoot my best wedding when I go out, you know. I always shot like… I say, ‘Okay, I did this, okay, I’m really happy with this story but I know I can be better, I know something could be better’, you know, but there is so many so many things which need to become connected not only me, also people, and the energy and the vibe of the wedding and place and everything needs to work together to get out the best results and I hope I will never, never do that. It’s always driving me for the future.

Alan:

That’s so true, isn’t it? It keeps us on our toes and makes us, yeah, get better and better at things. Yeah. makes our next work be the…. I mean, our best work will be the next wedding hopefully, I guess

Aleks:

Yeah, exactly

Alan:

That’s cool. I love the way when I asked you about is there a certain image and an image came to your head straight away. It’s very prominent

Aleks:

Yeah, I don’t know. I just love this image. And actually, this image opens so many… filled the gap for so many questions, which I couldn’t answer before. And it was it wasn’t just after the wedding, but like years after the wedding, you know, when I became more… shooting more meaning with meaningful weddings, you know. And now I always speak about this image because it’s representing everything what the weddings means for me.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. Awesome. Oh man, Aleks, yeah, we’re just gonna cut through to the end but that was so good. Thank you so much. It’s been so interesting talking to you. I loved it.

Aleks:

Thank you.

Alan:

Oh man, thank you for your time. Anyone who’s listening you know while out, do head to the site and I’ll include lots of Aleks’ work and the specific Reportage award that we spoke about earlier and links to his website as well.

Aleks:

Awesome.

Alan:

Oh man, thank you. It’s been so great.

Aleks:

Thank you so much Alan for opportunity. It was nice to talk with you. And I hope we see each other soon. My plan is to came to Doc Day if I could,

Alan:

Oh, that would be so fab, it will be so good to meet you man, it really would.

Aleks:

I have missed this year but I my plan is for the next year for sure

Alan:

Oh, that would be awesome. I really look forward meeting you there and I’ll get I’ll buy you a beer.

Aleks:

Thank you.

Alan:

Awesome you stay safe and yeah, keep well and I’ll hopefully meet you soon.

Aleks:

Awesome.

Alan:

Bye man

Aleks:

Thank you so much. Bye bye.

Alan:

Bye

***********************************************************

We hope you enjoyed our Aleks Kus interview!

View more of his work on his website or here on his TiR profile.

If you did enjoy this today, check our other wedding photography podcast episodes.

Deadline for our next round of Awards is soon! Submit by 23:59 BST on 24th July 2020. Not yet a member? See all the benefits and join us.

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