Featured Artist – Polona Avanzo

Our newest featured artist is Polona Avanzo.  She lives and works in Slovenia and loves to include an element of humor or quirkiness to her images because, “I believe everything in life is easier if we are able to laugh at ourselves and bizarre situations.”  You can find out more about her on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

boy on jungle gym - Documentary Family Photography

In your submission application, you mentioned that you were trying to bring more of this style of family photography to your home country. What do you think, culturally, will be the biggest barriers/resistance to having this style of photography welcomed there? How would you characterize the family photography market where you live?

In Slovenia there is a strong wish to have a perfect family. Parents would do everything for their kids and want them to accomplish many things. Sometimes it is hard to accept that they are not perfect and embrace the beauty of everyday mess. Another thing is the concern about what other people think looking from the outside. It is common to hear “what will neighbours think”. We don’t like to broadcast our imperfections and want to be seen as perfect.

There is also the difficulty of letting a stranger in our homes to document our messy house. I often hear “sorry about the mess in the house” when everything is perfectly fine and tidy for everyday life. Families in Slovenia usually clean the house for every visit they have.

Otherwise the Slovenian family photography market is still mostly leaning towards posed photography in a photo studio or in nature. People prefer to buy a professional camera for themselves… and then use it on auto 🙂 I feel like the photography profession is sadly not respected enough as it is a case with most services opposed to material goods.

kids dance on shore - Documentary Family Photography

What situations do you struggle most with capturing? And what is it about those situations that you find most challenging?

I struggle the most with intense moments – arguing or crying. I get the feeling that I am not welcome to capture this moments and have the urge to try and help the situation. Even with my own kids I had to overcome this feeling and accept it as a normal part of everyday life. They are moments that I also want to remember.

kids watch while butter is cut - Documentary Family Photography

Your framing and use of layers in your images is fantastic! Are you purposely seeking out these compositions? Do you find yourself shooting a lot of frames, or do you just sit and wait to capture that one perfect moment when everything lines up beautifully? Do you have any advice for others who wish to incorporate more depth in their images?

Yes, I love layers! I think they give some depth to the photos. Especially when I succeed in capturing different actions in one photo I feel I told a better story. Usually, when I see something interesting is going on, I quickly take some photos so I don’t not miss the moment. When I get the chance to calm down a bit I will look for a better composition. A lot of times I find the best spot and wait for everything to line up perfectly. In many cases it pays off. Sometimes you have to be a small fortune teller to predict what everyone will do next. Observe, predict and wait.

kids play in curtains - Documentary Family Photography

I love the sense of humor and quirkiness in your images. Do you feel like you see the humor of your images as you shoot or is it something you recognize and curate as you cull and edit? 

I love humorous moments. I believe that with humour and a smile everything is easier, especially if you are able to laugh at yourself and your mistakes. I guess this mirrors in my photos. Usually I know that a photo will be funny or good the moment I take it. And I work hard for it. As I mentioned before – I see the moment and I want to capture it in the best way. Things rarely surprise me in post production.

kids play in cage while adults watch - Documentary Family Photography