The first memory I have from Goran is in Iraq when I was covering the invasion in 2003 for TV3. I remember I was in one of those horrible last bus tours organized by Sadam’s Regime for the foreign press that were in Baghdad. There was lots of restrictions and few times we could sneak a round. Mostly we were sold out to join the unexpected Sadam bus tours. Do not remember exactly where we were going and just remember that was a hot damn day. Everybody was tens because bombing was increasing and US troops were getting closer. The regime was collapsing. All the journalist packed in the bus were complaining. And I remember a tall guy with sunglasses and scary look. Felt he was the only guy there that do not care about the hot, the tension and the disinformation of what was happening. I thought: this guy looks so focus and concentrate in the job.
Few days later, after the horrible attack by a US tank to the Palestine hotel, I saw Goran again. The thank shoot at Reuters balcony killing Taras Protsyuk and José Couso. I was with other journalist waiting out of the hospital. Already knew Taras was dead and was waiting to see what was happening with Couso and Paul Pasquale that got badly injured too. I was trying to assimilate that Taras was already dead despite few moments ago I was in the same balcony with him and he gave me a pat on the head trying to cheer me up as he saw me worried. I was far from the crowd of journos in front of the hospital and suddenly I saw Goran, the hardcore scary looking guy, on his own crying. Paul pasquale survived the injuries but Couso died too.
Couple of months later I was back in Jerusalem and meanwhile I was entering in Jerusalem Capital Studios to go to Reuters office where TV3 had a space to work Goran entered too. Quick we recognize each other from Iraq and he offered to go together to cover an anti wall demonstration in the West Bank. During the protest Israeli soldiers ended up shooting some live ammo at the Palestinian protesters. When the clashes finished and we were in the way back he gave me the first lesson of lots of lessons I got from him. He said something like: Raul, I saw you did something stupid standing long time in the middle of the shooting. Better to take a big risk when its worth it but not stupid small risks when its not necessary.”
Since then Goran become a friend and good mentor and teacher about photography and media. Gorano, brate, like sometimes I call him become like a big brother in Jerusalem. Looking at his work and listening his advises I really learned so much about when is the moment to push the bottom with the camera or to start recording. I remember very well too how happy he was when I show him the first time I published a photo story in a magazine.
But through all this years the thing that impressed me more was how Goran never wanted to take more credit than his photos. In a moment where so many journalist and photographers talk more about themselves than what is happening, Goran that has so much to show, almost never talks or makes a big deal of how dangerous was to be there or the risks he took for a photo. His images talk by itself. The good photographers do not need to talk, just make ”click” and show the resoult.
Goran that did not had an easy start for being Serbian in a moment were Serbs were considered the bad guys, build up his career on his own taking great images in conflict areas. I learned from him how important is to be aware of choose the right moment to freeze the reality and how good he is on that in a conflict situation. Some might disagree, and despite now the level of photography is higher than ever with so many good photographers all over, I think nowadays Goran is the best combat photographer. In Libya when mostly everybody was running under the Gaddafi shells, planes and helicopters attacks, Goran always had those precise moments to look up straight and take war photos like if he was covering a sport match when everybody was running or with the head down. His last work in Damascus it’s more than impressive, it is chilling.
I do not understood why he never got more photo awards and recognition. Maybe because he did not play the marketing game of talking more than doing. Maybe he did not waist his time in social games or having drinks with ”photo world people” disguised and folded in middle eastern or far east scarfs.
Of course nobody is perfect. But the good thing is that with or without the awards everybody knows that Goran probably nowadays is the best combat photographer. This is more important than awards that at the end are only useful to accumulate dust in some boring desk.
Have a look at this video where Goran explain in few sentence his 20 years of experience covering conflict. Worth watch it.