“The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.”
Born and raised in Sydney, Mary Pilas moved to Zagreb Croatia in 1992 after completing her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Music and French. With an interest in photography, Mary attended courses at the Zagreb Photo Club to improve her skills. However, due to work and family obligations, she hung up her camera for many years. After completing The Camino de Santiago, a large network of ancient pilgrim routes that stretch across Europe and come together at the tomb of St. James in north-west Spain, Mary once again took up photography. She loves to document ordinary people and everyday scenes, and shoots mostly in black and white.
What is your favourite quote that resonates with you the best?
Definitely one by Robert Doisneau which inspired the name of my Instagram account, @the.marvels.of.daily.life: "The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street."
When did you start getting interested in photography?
I have always been interested in photography but my love for it was rekindled after completing the Camino Portuguese in 2016.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In everyday situations on the street.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
Definitely the old classic photographers such as Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliott Erwitt...I also love documentary photographers such as Don McCullin, David Turnley and Peter Turnley...
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
I would say that it hasn’t changed so much but perhaps evolved and improved. I have always loved street photography and still do.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
The streets of Zagreb, Croatia.
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
Despite what people say, I think equipment is important, e.g. how well the camera performs at high ISOs (I love to do night photography so this is quite important to me), how fast it focuses, etc. So although I don’t believe that equipment will not make you a better photographer, it does help you to capture your vision.
What characteristics do you think you need to become a photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
I think that Elliott Erwitt said it best - “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
Yes, I am actually a musician by trade.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Yes, I am working on capturing Croatian traditions on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage. It’s going to take a while but I am in no hurry to complete it. I have so far captured two of the 14 items on the list 🙂
If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
To see more of Mary's photos of the streets of Zagreb and to keep up with her latest projects, follow Mary on Instagram and view her portfolio here on the website. Our thoughts are with Mary and the people of Zagreb after a strong earthquake recently shook their city causing widespread damage all amid a coronavirus lockdown.
All photographs are the property of artist © Mary Pilas.