Mirko Krizanovic

History viewed from the edge

Our memory of significant events that occurred in the 20th century is hard to distinguish from the famous images of photojournalism we associate with them. The list of photographs illustrating these events, which we can all clearly recall in our mind’s eye, is long: It includes Robert Capa’s photo of a dying Republican soldier that evokes the horrors of the Spanish civil war, or Margaret Bourke-White’s images of the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp that attest to the suffering of millions during the Shoah. From Eddie Adams, Nick Út and Philip Jones Griffiths to Robert Lebeck and Barbara Klemm, particularly succinct photographs frequently act as emotional milestones, helping us to navigate the bumpy roads of history.

When in the early 1980s Mirko Krizanovic found a Pentax compact camera left in his taxi by a passenger, he did not yet know that he would one day enjoy a career as a photojournalist that would take him around the world. Years later, he worked on major stories as a staff photographer for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung together with colleagues such as Lutz Kleinhans, Wolfgang Haut or Barbara Klemm, where he learned the fast, precise trade of a journalist: The editorial office expected one picture per topic on its desk at the end of each day. This work approach not only trains the eye and instinct for the right situation, but is also indispensable for a photojournalist’s goal-oriented work.

Krizanovic’s topics are ambitious: Palestine, Bosnia, Romania, Chechnya, Slovenia, Lebanon, Ruanda and the USA. He has never shied away from the conflict regions of this world, even if the pictures he has published do not achieve the drastic expression that characterizes the work of many of his colleagues. They illustrate events often from the sidelines: People trying to recreate some familiar sense of normality having lost everything they owned, soldiers during lulls in combat, columns of refugees and reception camps. In many pictures, Krizanovic shows children at play and happy faces, even in the most inhospitable places.

Like many of his colleagues, Krizanovic relies on a combination of instinct, experience, fast reactions and of course luck to elicit a successful photograph from a certain situation. This gives his images a conciliatory dimension: They radiate warmth, humanity and a joy of life as well as hope for better times. A quality that already inspired the great pioneers of photojournalism not to resign themselves to the current situation, but to deliver images that strike a nerve: “That is the greatest incentive: To bring stories to the public eye and maybe, in this way, to help.”

Biographical information

1959

born in Subotica, Serbia (former Yugoslavia)

1970

immigrates to Germany

1983–1987

photojournalist for the Darmstädter Tagblatt

1987–1994

editorial staff photographer for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

1993

first solo exhibition in the Kunsthalle Darmstadt

since 1994

freelance photographer for German magazines and newspapers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin, taz, Die Zeit and Cicero

1999

receives the Kodak Photography Book Award: Group Award for Bilder in der Zeitung. Journalistische Fotografie 1949–1999, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

2008

honoured with the Photography Award of the City of Luxeuil-les-Bains, France

lives and works in Darmstadt, Germany and Ste. Marie-en-Chanois, France.