Roberto Pavic is an award-winning photographer who specializes in landscape and concert photography.
Based in Croatia, No Echo first encountered his work earlier this summer while hunting down a killer photo of Biohazard's Billy Graziadei that he shot.
After looking through his other work, we knew we had to ask him to be part of the site's ongoing Photographer Spotlight series.
Where were you born and raised, and were your parents into the arts?
I was born in Zagreb, Croatia and I'm still at the same place 41 years later. But in terms of concerts that's not the best place you want to be, so I traveled almost whole Europe just to shoot some bands and to be part of some great show/festival. My parents were not into any kind of arts, but they have great taste of music and that's probably main reason I'm shooting concerts.
What was your first musical love?
My first real love was Alice Cooper. I was 10-years-old and that was my first concert I attended, with my parents. I was listening all kind of hard rock and heavy metal music because of them. In early '90s all of those bands, especially metal bands like Metallica, were at the peak and most of them should visit Zagreb, but we had war in Croatia, so nothing of that happened. So, next 10 years was just about listening music.
I was growing and my taste has changed, I wanted something more aggresive, I wanted more energy, so I started to listen punk, trash metal and hard core. In late '90s there was a light at the end of a tunel, bands started to visit this part of Europe again.
So we had Body Count in 1997, Slayer and System of a Down in 1998, bands I really like. I was always in first row, in mosh pit, but at that time I couldn't imagine that in 20+ years I will be in backstage with them.
In 2016, I was in backstage with Slayer, as official photographer of their concert in Zagreb, Croatia. I remember their manager just said, "you have 2 minutes with them, you can do whatever you want." I took few photos in 60 seconds and spent next 60 seconds chatting with them (no fucking selfies). Those guys are real professionals and that was amazing feeling!
20 years later, from the first show in Zagreb, we had Body Count once again. I was at the show with my son. He was the youngest person there, so his uncle Ice-moutherfucking-T invited him in backstage after the show...
What is your camera and post set up?
Most of the time, like 90 percent, I shoot with my fisheye lens, sometimes from the photo pit and sometimes from the crowd. I want every single person who is looking at my photos, to feel the atmosphere. I don't like regular portraits, because they are dull, in my opinion. So, fisheye, close combat, in mosh pit sweaty people, beers in the air, that's what I like.
I avoid something like 70-200mm lends, but sometimes they look good. But most important thing is how to process them. I like to add some clarity, contrast and extra light in Photoshop. Also, every single photo is edited individualy, no way I could process 30 photos with one preset in Lightroom.
Who are some of your favorite bands to shoot?
It depends, becuse there are 2 types of photos I really like — shooting bands that have great production, lights and they look really good on the stage (Rammstein, Metallica, etc.) and shooting at "small" venues bands plus crowd. Hardcore shows, especially Terror, Madball, Biohazard, Agnostic Front are something special if you have guts to go in the pit and take photos from that perspective.
Punk Rock Holiday, festival in Slovenia, is great place for shooting — no barricades, always great line-up, 50+ bands and always great atmosphere. If you know some guys from the band it's even easier to have great photos, because they know you, interaction is much better.
I was really lucky and spent some time with Ignite during their European tour and we have some really cool photos. So, it's really hard to choose favorite band....
If you could go back in time, who are some bands that you would have loved to shoot?
Definitely Metallica 1991 in Moscow.
Is it getting tougher to carve a space out at venues since there are so many people shooting these days? How do you feel about that?
It depends, if you are shooting hard-core there's always enough space for everybody and competion is always good, pushes you to go forward. If you want to shoot from the crowd probaly there won't be 10 photographers there, only 1 or 2. But if you want to shoot best bands in the world, there's too many problems.
Problems with promoters, like Live Nation, problems with band managers, and even sometimes with the band.
Also, I have a problem shooting bands in other countries, because we don't have so many good shows in Croatia. They won't approve accreditation for media from foreign county, they "don't have anything from you." So, instead of quality photographers, on big festivals, you have 70-100 all kind of photographers, with all kind of equipement. That's not good....
Who are some modern-day photographers that you admire?
My first pick is, always, Javier Bragado — great angles and great comunication with the bands. His photos are always top quality. Croatian guy Stipe Surac, official photographer for Metal Days and Punk Rock Holiday, so you can enjoy in his photos on their pages. Lucas Englund works amazing job with Parkway Drive photos, colors and those double exposures are really something.
If you had to pick one of your photos that best encapsulates why you love shooting bands/artists, which one would it be and why?
After 10 years in concert photography it's hard to choose just one photo, but one photo of atmosphere during the Exploited show was really special moment — face of the guy in the middle, his eyes, other guy boots in the air, crowd completely wet and sweaty, screaming faces all over the place — that's it!
Follow Roberto on both his concert/music photography and general photography pages on Instagram.
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