Šećerlama, in the entrepreneurial world with a camera

There are many young people with a vision of a quality future in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are only a few that dare to make a first move and step into the world of entrepreneurship. Those courageous, young visionaries are well aware of the difficulties, but they are also aware of their own potentials, their desires and most importantly – their faith in the ultimate goal. One of them is Arnej Misirlić, a young man who was brave enough to start his own business story in the field of photography and video production.

787: How long have you been interested in photography and directing?

* It has been six years now. May 1st, 2010 was the day I got my first camera and when my love for this job began. And you can tell that the love is real since I can remember the date of our anniversary, although it coincides with one well-known holiday.

787: What makes you unique among many great photographers in Bosnia and Herzegovina? How did you manage to find a place for yourself in the profession?

* Well, to find a place for yourself somewhere you have to be either the best or different. I was trying to be both. In a certain way, my wedding photography specialization and method of working, processing the photos, accessing the tasks, etc., was not present in our market until I showed up. So that was the element of difference, but it was certainly necessary to provide quality as well. It is important to always strive to be better, if not from others, then from your past self. And now, looking at some old photographs, that improvement is quite vivid; through the jump from a couple of years ago to today and even only throughout the last year.

787: Which was the deciding moment for you to start your own business?

* Somehow the things evolved naturally. In one moment, while I was working on a campaign as the PR person for a big company for two weeks, I realized that I'm not the type of person who wants to work weekly for 40 hours for someone else, and that I would prefer working for 100 hours per week, but for myself and for something I truly believe in. And that’s how the whole story began.

787: Tell us something more about Šećerlama!

Šećerlama ... Šećerlama should talk for itself, but okay – I will put in a good word or two for it. It's the concept of a western wedding studio. The key part of it all are high quality, unusual and cool photos, which I can achieve thanks to the newlyweds. But, another important part of Šećerlama is my approach - getting to know the newlyweds before the wedding, so on their wedding day, their photographer is their friend. That is why I get that pure emotion in the photos. One of my colleagues told me something that might describe Šećerlama in the best way:-"Šećerlama is a synonym for love!"

787: As a wedding photographer, you've certainly experienced many beautiful moments; can you tell us any anecdote?

* An anecdote I vividly remember happened with my longtime friend, a Physics professor at Obala Gymnasium, and his chosen one, a Math professor at the same school. While we were taking wedding photos of them in the Sarajevo’s City Hall, in one moment he leaned on her lap while sitting on the stairs, and I took a photo of that moment. Soon after, he raised his head, looked at me and said:

"You know what the best thing about marrying a mathematician is? - You can always count on her."

787: How long did it take to register Šećerlama and what difficulties did you encounter in this process? 

* Šećerlama is still in the process of its final registration. The biggest problem that people from my branch face is an obsolete nomenclature of vocations, professions and crafts. So, to start photography-related business in those nomenclatures as main professional activity is recorded activity of producing negatives for which you would need to finish a secondary school for photographers. Also as precondition you would need to have business premises. Because of those reasons, most of my colleagues, including myself, have to come up with some solutions that will allow them to register a firm at their apartment’s or house’s address, because we do not need a business space when we're doing 90 percent of our work in the field. But, with a help of friendly officeholders, I managed to find the solution and I’m in the process of registration of my company.

787: How do you see the relation between the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and young people who would like to be entrepreneurs?

* So, lately there are certain incentives that make this leap into your own business easier. But there are many problems; starting from losing your student status when you start a company, high contributions and payouts, and this overall relation as if we were here for them and not the other way around. And indeed, it all seems scary for someone who wants to jump into business. Our even bigger misfortune is that a very small number of people even want that.

787: Do you have an advice for young people with the idea and desire to start their own business?

* Do not wait for everything to sort out on its own. Get started with what you have and work on the solutions for your problems as you go. In the business, things won’t always go as planned, but you have to learn to take the best out of every situation.

787: Who is your biggest support?

* Well, the cliché answer would be my parents, but they really are my biggest support. They are my first control of the quality of the photos and my entrepreneurial endeavors. They are the first ones I sit down with and explain what I have imagined and, then, I hear what they think about it. Somehow, they were my support throughout this whole strange journey, even in moments when I was neglecting my studies just to do photography, because I believed in it. They believed in me and what I did, too, although it was contrary to a basic parenting instinct – finish your studies. Of course, besides my parents, there are so many friends who are also my initial control of the quality of photography. I send my photos to them, they give me their honest opinion, and then I publish the photos. Also, there are couple of colleagues with whom I have an excellent relation and we help each other in the work and apart from it.

787: We know that you have filmed Jala's music videos and the presentment of the B&H team at the Eurovision Song Contest. What is it like to be part of such positive projects, but also to engage in the video production?

* I’ve known Jasmin my whole life and we have been hanging out intensely in the last four to five years. We started, grew and matured together, and now we went to the Eurosong together. In fact, being part of such projects is a great honor and an even greater responsibility. Though, my favorite projects regarding video production are always with Jala. I’ve known him for so long and we have this trust-based business relation, so with him I have the complete creative freedom to implement what I have imagined and that’s what I appreciate very much.

787: Can you tell us something about your future and planned projects?

* In the upcoming period, the focus will be on the Šećerlama Studio and the development of the idea, and possible expansion into video production and making films of the weddings. I'm currently in the process of equipping the studio for my personal needs, and, possibly, for renting as well. Also, you can expect some videos this year.

Arnej led us to the conclusion that the original idea, with the right support, will and mantra "no giving up" can become something successful entrepreneurial endeavor. We hope that his story will motivate and encourage individuals not to wait for things to sort out themselves, but to find solutions to potential problems through work, on the way to their goal.

Authors: Marija Pudarić & Edina Velić