Photographer Ćajić

Mića Ćajić (1934-2014) was a photographer born in Slavkovica who opened his first shop in Ljig. He learned his trade in Belgrade with a Jewish man after the war. He even spent a couple of months in Udina, in Italy so as to make his skills perfect. Mića used to say that he didn’t even see a camera in the first half of the apprentice year, but spent that time helping his master to clean, tidy, go to the market, and chop wood. His master explained to him later on why everything was like that. The whole process gave apprentices an opportunity to give up, and if they managed to go through everything, then that meant they really wanted to stay and learn the trade. At the beginning of the 1960s, he bought a shop in Gornji Milanovac which still exists to the present day. Before a photographic studio, a leather shop “Dior” was located at this place. Mića’s daughter Zorica and his son Zoran work in a studio now. Even though Zoran finished the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, he has never had a job in his area of expertise but learned his father’s trade and continued running the family business following his father’s demise. Zoran started working with his father at the age of 14, and now both his son and daughter (even though of different vocation) are helping their father – so one can say that three generations of Ćajić family have run the photography business. The studio bore the name “Foto Mića” until 1997, when it was changed into “Elit foto”, so as to have some neutral name for the generations to follow.

Mića was into photography. He used to say that a real photographer needed to include the third dimension while taking a photo – and that is emotion, besides the other two dimensions, width and length. He spent his working life making improvements and accepting novelties because the technology of photography making had visible advances.

He started using the colour photography in the 1970s. He won many awards in digital photography domain before he retired. At the beginning of his career and later on, he liked taking photos of villages, street fairs, students at schools, building houses and neighbourhoods, as well as accompanying celebrations most. Wedding photos were taken in a different way. After the wedding, or as people used to say – the marriage registration in a townhall, bride and groom would come to a photographic studio to take their photos. Family photos were also taken there, and that was a sort of tradition; then, portraits, going to the army, military celebrations, and state holidays as well. Family photos were taken most commonly in villages, where two to three generations would gather and have their photos taken. Those photographs were black and white, but then they were retouched so as to avoid wrinkles on portraits and get the best possible photo. We can call this manual and primitive process a forerunner of photoshop. Paperwork was also documented in a photographic studio. One would wait up to seven days to get a photo. First, a film had to be used fully and then to be developed to obtain a photograph. Technology has changed quite a lot nowadays. Taking a photo of a married couple has changed to such an extent that instead of going to a photographic studio after the wedding, now it takes bride and groom several days to get what they want. Besides wedding photos, bride and groom go to a chosen location a couple of days before and after the wedding and they have their photos taken. That is called fotoshooting. It is much easier today for a photographer to express himself through a photo.

All photographic equipment and production material is produced outside Serbia. In the former Yugoslavia, “Foto Kemika Zagreb” produced photographic paper and chemicals. When Mića Ćajić came to Milanovac, there were three to four other photographers in the town – Zarić, Šakota, Simić, and Mića himself.