Q & A With NJ Photographer Zlatko Batistich

1. What kind of photography do you do?

I’m a wedding, portrait and event photographer based in Cresskill, New Jersey. Cresskill is a suburb about ten miles from New York City. I’ve been photographing weddings since 2002, mostly in NJ, NY, CT and PA, and occasionally farther away.

2. What is the origin of your name?

I’m originally from Dalmatia on Croatia’s coast — where the Dalmatian dog originates. My name is derived from the word zlato, which means gold. When I was little, I lived in Stockholm, Sweden for a few years before moving to New Jersey at the start of first grade. 

3. When did you start doing photography?

I’ve always been a visual person. Before photography, my greatest passion was drawing. My love of photography started in high school as I photographed for the school newspaper and yearbook. I spent many hours developing film and creating black & white prints in my home darkroom. I still love black & white photography, although I do it digitally now.

Some pics of me over the years.

4. Did you study photography in school?

I attended New York University for a year and took a portrait class with a photographer in Manhattan. I then transferred to the University of Chicago where I majored in philosophy, and also took classes in photography, aesthetics and the history of art. I then attended Cornell Law School where I earned a J.D. degree. While at Cornell, I photographed various events and had a solo exhibit of my art photography. After law school, I worked as a lawyer but continued photographing for fun.

5. How did you start photographing weddings?

In 2001, I was inspired by the work of Denis Reggie. He is the photographer who transformed wedding photography with a more natural style known as wedding photojournalism. Denis is know for his lengthy list of notable clients, including Vera Wang, John Kennedy Jr., Martin Luther King III, and Caroline Kennedy among many others. In 2002, I traveled to Denis Reggie’s studio in Atlanta for a 4-day workshop on digital wedding photography. After the workshop I began photographing weddings part-time. In 2004, I left law practice and have been photographing full-time since then.

6. What makes your photography different?

I value authentic moments and authentic emotions above all. For me, the magic of photography is how it draws from reality and transports us to a time, place and feeling — more vividly than our memories do. Our memories of events sometimes even merge with our photos of those events. As a result, authentic documentary photos hold a special value for me. While I value portraits very much, I put extra effort into the unposed photos.

 

NJ Wedding Photographer
A wedding guest made this instant photo of me at work.

7. What is your photographic style?

I love photos that authentically represent the way things looked and felt, without being over-stylized. Wedding photography has had many trends that came and went. When I look at wedding photos of past generations, I see that the photos that captured real moments tend to look timeless and beautiful, while photos that were over-stylized with effects tend to look dated. I hope you’ll see in my photos a natural style:  creative, but not forced. I feel that photography works best when it is “the art of real moments” so I generally practice wedding photojournalism (link). When shooting, I’m genuinely unobtrusive, not directorial. I have a low-key, quiet personality that fits in easily at a wedding or other event. I try to be an attentive observer — capturing real moments as they happen.  

That said, I also love photography that is consciously artistic and not necessarily a dry representation of reality. The rules of photojournalism (no Photoshop, etc.) don’t apply in wedding photography. So there is room for artistic interpretation and for emphasis on beauty, aesthetics and style over just plain factual storytelling. 

8. What three words would sum up your style?

Artistic, emotional and authentic. I strive for all three of those elements, not necessarily in that order.

9. Do you ever direct your subjects?

Yes, I do give some direction for portraits, partly to create them efficiently, and partly to give helpful suggestions when appropriate. I avoid anything that looks cheesy or awkward. Although portraits make up a small portion of the photos, they’re important for family historical purposes. I’ve written a page (link) about wedding day portraits — with many examples. Camera-aware portraits (like Matthew Brady‘s portrait of Lincoln or Steve McCurry‘s Afghan Girl) have always been a part of photojournalism and documentary photography, and naturally co-exist with purely undirected, unscripted photojournalism.

10. Do you have any reviews online?

Yes! Please see reviews by previous clients on these sites:

Once you have been a client, please follow up and leave a review on these sites. Thank you for all reviews!

11. Do you do photography full-time?

Yes. While photography keeps me very busy, I’m also a husband and a dad. My wife and I have two sons.

12. Do you photograph anything other than weddings and portraits?

Yes, I photograph various special events, including bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, birthdays, corporate events and charity events. For the past four years, I’ve photographed openings at the Milk Gallery in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The gallery has exhibited the work of noted photographers in photojournalism, art and fashion, and attracted many celebrity guests. My page titled Celebrity, Art and Fashion (link) shows some of this photography.

13. Why do you have multiple Instagram accounts?

It may be better to show each type of work in its own account. So I have accounts dedicated to Weddings, Portraits and Events. This way people can follow the account or accounts that most interest them. Or visit this page to see posts from all three accounts: Latest on Instagram (link).

14. Do you teach photography?

I occasionally offer personal photography lessons (link). In 2011-2013, I helped author and fashion designer Carolyne Roehm transition to digital photography. Ms. Roehm is the author of more than ten books on topics such as gardening, interior decorating, flower arranging and party planning.

15. Which camera do you recommend?

I mostly use Canon cameras. I’ve also used Sony. FujifilmNikon, Leica, Olympus and Pentax cameras. The cameras in smartphones have gotten so good that they meet most people’s photography needs. But for specialized work, dedicated cameras with interchangeable lenses still offer an advantage. Tell me what you’ll be photographing and I’d be happy to offer some photo gear suggestions!


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Special Praise

crystal plaza wedding
“Wonderful wonderful photos…  I’ve looked at about 100,000 photos this week (week is still young) and these are clearly the best!  By far.” — Ira Berger, Photo Editor at PEOPLE magazine, on Kathryn and Eduardo’s wedding photos.

“You will be ‘very satisfied’ with this New Jersey pro, who received nothing less than perfect marks from brides. ‘He was marvelous,’ raves one bride, and ‘captured perfect moments.’ But don’t wait to check him out — this photographer photographs 40 to 50 weddings per year and books up quickly” — The Knot.

angel orensanz wedding
“Well, I felt like transported to a world of dreams and pure beauty. I never saw our building in this out of this world light and atmosphere…  If you created such beauty and purity it means that there is a transcendence there.” — Al Orensanz, Director of the Angel Orensanz Center, on Rebecca and Jonathan’s wedding photos.

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Portraits Instagram:  @zlatkoportraits

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