The crisis that the world has found itself in has been a shock to many of us. It has forced on us a tsunami of negativity, which impacted our mental health and wellbeing. But there is one positive thing I hear people saying and can affirm personally that it brought – that is clarity. Seeing things clearer, with a different perspective, and knowing what is essential and has priority in our lives. It is a shame that it took a pandemic to derail us out of our routines and come to this realization, but the question I asked myself now is: “What do I do with this realization?”
I thought of my friend Dino Kuznik, a Slovenian photographer who lives in New York. Dino has been telling me a few years back how he travels to the American West on these solo photo road trips as a way to disconnect from the daily routine, a way to focus and recharge with observation and immersion as his primary tools. He told me how he sees this time in this state as his psychiatrist, which fuels his mental health and wellbeing.
We always wanted to do something together, and I think this is a perfect time, where we can pair different physical and mental forms to achieve wellbeing. Yoga + observation = appreciation.
Below you can find the interview with Dino Kuznik, who also became one of BHT’s closest partners.
Tell us a bit about yourself, who you are, where you come from, and what do you do for a living.
Hey, I am Dino Kužnik, a photographer, living and working in NYC. I am originally from Slovenia, Europe and have been in the US from 2013, when I moved here for a graphic design position.
Now I am a full-time professional photographer and work in different photography fields, which are split between my personal and commercial work – they range anywhere from environmental portraits, automotive, fashion, documentary, to landscape photography.
I have been published in numerous publications online and in print, exhibited in Europe and the USA. A longer list of my past and upcoming exhibitions and accomplishments can be found on my website.
Where is your favorite place to photograph?
I am very much attracted to the American West and the desolate landscape within it – which my first book titled Shaped by the West is all about. The majority of my personal work has been focused on documenting the West, and I have explored and driven across California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. I think it is the energy of these places that attracts me and, of course, the fantastic landscape.
I do wish to travel to Southeast Asia, South America – especially the Patagonia region, is something I want to explore and Australia in the next few years.
What has photography done for you?
Photography has given me focus, inner peace, and purpose.
When did you know you would like to start with your own business, and how did it happen?
I have been photographing for well over 12 years now. I worked as a journalistic photographer, studio assistant, retoucher during my college years and have shot quite a few weddings back in the day (I am thinking of reentering the business of wedding photography here in the US). Still, after the financial crash of the late 00s, photography wasn’t really a well-paid job in Slovenia, and I was struggling. I went to school for graphic design, so I got a job at a fast-growing startup as a graphic designer in 2012. This job eventually took me to San Francisco and then New York.
It was perfect as I was able to finance my photography projects and exclusively shoot for only myself while occasionally side-hustling with it. It was quite liberating at the time. In 2017 I entered one of the biggest photography competitions in the world – Sony World Photography Awards, with a series I shot in the American West. I was shortlisted in the Landscape category, and that’s the point my work got noticed. I was getting approached by people and brands for work. Unfortunately, my 9-5 did not allow me to fulfill all of the job proposals, so I started thinking about going full-time. In 2019 I finally made the jump to fulltime photography after I got an artist visa. So that’s basically a short version of the whole story.
How did Covid-19 affect your business so far?
It wasn’t positive, to put it mildly. A lot of my jobs got canceled, but on the brights side, I was able to shift energy into some of my other skills and stay afloat. I was fortunate enough also to be named an ambassador for an amazing Australian brand of photographic filters, that has conservation of the environment as their core value, called GOBE. I have been writing for them and extended the use of my photographs, sold prints, my book, and did a few graphic design gigs on the side. But it seems like photo gigs are going to pick up in the next few months, so things are looking up.
My girlfriend’s and mine’s health was the main priority during this pandemic, so I am grateful we didn’t get sick, and I am optimistic about the future. The pandemic also put a lot of things in perspective and changed my priorities, which in the long run is a good thing. This is, in part, is why I am expanding my photography business towards workshops and fusions like this one with Bike Hike Tours.
How do you keep active in your life? Is being a sporty part of your lifestyle? What is your favorite sport?
During the outbreak here in New York, the motivation was quite low, but we did push ourselves with my girlfriend to work out and meditate at home. Other than that, I do love to ride my bike, and have explored all of the five boroughs with it – you can call it locations scouting 🙂 That is probably the sport I do the most here. But in the past, I was quite an active snowboarder and skateboarder, and while an injury is preventing me from doing anything serious with my skateboard, I would love to spend more days on the snow again.
I feel like being sporty is definitely a part of my lifestyle.
What are some items of gadgets you never travel without?
iPhone, headphones, 35mm point, and shoot camera. I also like to bring something to read wherever I go, but that isn’t necessarily a gadget.
What was the main reason you decided to cooperate with BHT?
I have long been friends with the founder of BHT Boštjan, and we always talked about doing something together. And like I said earlier, the pandemic put a lot of things in perspective. I can teach some techniques and knowledge regarding photography and observation of the environment around us that have benefited me during the span of 12 years in photography in the means to help people find inner peace and stay focused. If I can help and pass some knowledge on, that will be extremely gratifying to me. I think as human beings we need to start thinking more as “WE” and less as “I” if that makes sense.
What aspects of BHT business resonate the most within your own business?
Definitely the experience that Boštjan has and how he utilizes it is very admiring. I think we both share a lot of core values and are a good team.
Now, what’s the plan?
Let’s move forward together with empathy and compassion for one another. That way, we are stronger! 🙂 Cheers
To wrap it up, I would like to thank Dino for an excellent interview.
You can check Dino’s work on his Website or Instagram.
The Yoga and Photo experience with Dino Kuznik will be available from late June 2020 onwards. If you have any questions or want to chat more about the experience, you can also reach out to me directly, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.