Brian Rasic: The Life of Brian
All About Jazz: How did you get started in photography? Can you give us a brief history of your background, regarding your humble beginnings? Why photography?
Brian Rasić: I started taking pictures back in my teens. My father had a Kiev cameraRussian make, 35mmand it gave me the idea. It was like magic, taking images and getting prints out of it. Took pictures of a lot of girls and friends and all kinds of different things. In the early '70s I spent several months in Zurich, Switzerland, where I went to see lots of concerts and took pictures of the likes of Rory Gallagher, Chicken Shack, and, as I love music, I started taking the camera to concerts back home in Belgrade after that. Mid-'70s: Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Ike and Tina Turner, etc. I would take pics and make prints for my mates as a souvenir from the concerts we saw. I do not remember why, but once when I started taking pictures, there was no way back.
AAJ: How has music and music culture influenced your personal work?
BR: I believe, quite a lot. I loved the music since an early age, and it was like being in paradise when I started seeing my heroes live. Offstage, too. Taking pictures of them was almost unbelievable at first. Obviously, music has to do a lot with culture and even politics and all aspects of life. Being here in London the past 30 years surely has been a big influence on my work.
AAJ: How did you get into the photography business? Where did you learn your craft?
BR: I am a self-taught photographer. Started with black-and-white films, processing them and making prints, the whole procedure; game of light. I just needed to understand how it all works, and then it was pure pleasure. As a business, it all started when I got to London in 1979. Actually, it was in June 1980 when I got in touch with a Yugoslavian music magazine to back me up as their photographer as I applied for a photo pass to photograph Led Zeppelin in Brussels, Belgium. I did get the backing, and they did get my pictures. That was the first. Then I sent more and more stuff, met lots of people from all around the world here. Some wanted to see my work, and they liked it. Started selling pics everywhere, and in 1983 got in touch with my agency, Rex Features, that is still syndicating my work to over 50 countries in the world.
AAJ: What was the music climate in your native Yugoslavia when you began working?
BR: In all honesty, I was more into foreign groups and music in the early '70s when I was at home. I remember seeing Blood, Sweat and Tears, Mungo Jerry, but most of all seeing and listening to great jazz music at the Newport Jazz Festival that was coming to Belgrade: Miles Davis with Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Ray Charles. Local groups that I loved were Korni Grupa, Time, Yu Grupa. Then came Bijelo Dugme. But my spell of living in Zurich back in 1973, when I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time, changed my life forever. Seeing King Crimson, Roxy Music, just blew my mind. Back in Belgrade, life was good and we had a good time. It was nice in each and every way. At the end of the '70s, local music became much stronger too, and I remember seeing some memorable concerts by Bijelo Dugme, Smak, and then I left.
AAJ: What made you move to London and pursue photography?