Meet Miki & Sonja
The Darkroom Experience
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”
~Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Growing up in former Yugoslavia, I was introduced to photography by my father and his collection of cameras. I was given an enlarger at the age of 10, and from then on I was mesmerized by the magic of photography. My interest quickly became a passion.
In high school, I was looking for a way to earn some extra money. Instead of a typical first job, I decided to try wedding photography. I knew most couples would not hire a teenager to capture their wedding, but I had an idea.
Traditions in countries vary, and during that time, weddings in my country were photographed traditionally. A photographer was hired, but it was common for other photographers to show up, paparazzi style, and capture less traditional images. For me, it was perfect because my approach was more journalistic. I would show up at the ceremony, nicely dressed and unobtrusively take pictures from different angles. As soon as the ceremony was over, I raced through traffic on a scooter, developed the film and made 8 x 10 prints. Back at the reception within a couple of hours, I found the groom or best man, who traditionally bought prints as a gift for the bride. The pictures were always a big hit and well loved by everyone!
This way of shooting weddings became very popular, having to compete with 10 or more photographers at a time. Speed was crucial. I eventually created a team in order to be the first photographer back at the wedding. We became very efficient. One person was the photographer. The next person took the film from the photographer, hopped on a scooter, raced through downtown streets and delivered the film to the third person. The third person developed the film and made the prints. The fourth person jumped on his scooter, speed through town, found the reception, located the groom or best man and showed him the prints. It was a great way to make money, photographing 5 to 6 weddings a day, until the job became too dangerous with all of the competition.
The experience I acquired was amazing, particularly for a teenager. I’m very thankful for that time. It fueled my passion for photography, refined my skills, and led me to the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California where I met my other half in life, love, and photography.
Every summer growing up, my family took a road trip to the Midwest. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting my grandparent’s farm in South Dakota. My grandmother loved ancestry. I vividly remember her pulling out old photographs. Some had been taken over 150 years ago, and had been passed down for generations. She could look at these images and instantly go back in time, recalling amazing stories about the immigration of my relatives from Norway and all they lived through.
It only took a fraction of a second to create these images but they captured my imagination. What happened in the few seconds prior to this shot? What happened after this photo was taken? The ancestors in these photos did not know what their futures held at the time. As a result of someone capturing those moments, I can stand here as their descendant and tell you their stories.
Those summers with my family developed my deep appreciation for history and fascination with photography. As far back as I can remember I could feel a sense of magic from a single image. In high school, I loved the epic fashion shots in magazines – particularly black and white. I collected images by Demarchelier, Avadon, Testino, Lindbergh, Ritts, and Roversi, unfamiliar with their prestige at the time!
After majoring in Art Administration, Art History and French at Whitworth University, I couldn’t ignore my desire to create art. I eagerly enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, where I majored in illustration and advertising.
It Was Meant to be
Miki arrived at Brooks Institute two years before Sonja. Pursuing the same degree, they spent a lot of time in the local camera store and photo lab. It was during one of Sonja’s visits to the photo lab that they met. Miki worked there while attending school, and Sonja needed to get film developed. He was outside on his break when he saw her go into the lab. He dashed back in to the front counter to help her. With all the confidence in the world, he asked, “Will you model for me?” As you can guess, Sonja said “Yes.”
From that moment on, we were inseparable. We began working together as a team on school assignments, shared a passion for black and white imagery and the darkroom. Unknown at the time, we were laying the foundation for what was to come.
Like many couples, our story was all about passion and good timing.
Working together since college, we have naturally developed complementary styles with two balanced perspectives to represent the full scope of each moment. Like only the best teams, we can anticipate the other’s actions. Due to our close partnership and intuition, we provide exceptional coverage often unfound with a typical second shooter.
When we are not working, we spend time traveling and adventuring with our two incredible kids (and an amazing dog). We share a love for everything outdoors and exploring the hidden gems of Los Angeles.