Good photography is not just about capturing a single photo. It's a life full of emotions and forgotten stories, and what better way to tell a story than taking pictures. With the advent of social networks, our whole life seems to be built on photos. Ever since our childhood they have been a reflection of real life - of joy and happiness, but also of pain and sadness.


In the past, it was believed that photography "steals" a person's soul. There may be something true about that. The photo captures what at first glance one cannot see - his "soulful" face.


Few people have heard the name of Anastas Jovanovic. He was born in Vratsa in 1817, in the family of traders. At that time the city was an important administrative center. He received his primary education from a Serb named Ognjanovic, who taught him to read. He then went to Serbia, where he was trained by a government official from Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic.


In 1837, Serbian Prince Milos Obretenovic I sent him to Vienna to study painting, graphics and lithography at the Academy of St. Ana. " He told him not to forget his native roots and the sacrifices his country had made to send him to study abroad. It is not bad to get acquainted with the different customs of the peoples, but not to forget that his native country preserves rich traditions.

Prince Milos Obretenovich I

photo by Anastas Jovanovic, 1844g.


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It was there that he learned about Louis Dager and his method of photographing, called daguerreotype. When the government of Karadjordjevic came to power in 1842, Prince Milos was forced to abdicate. But Anastas stays true to the old regime, forcing the new "strong men of the day" to end his scholarship. This in turn forces the boy to start living with lithography and in Vienna to make icons for the Orthodox Greeks. In 1846 Anastas graduated from the Academy of Vienna, mastering both photography and lithography to perfection.


After returning home, in 1850, he started taking pictures with the new method. (Written testimony from the Science Museum of Serbia points to Dimitri Novakovic, the first Serb to use this method). He was appointed personal photographer of Prince Mikhail Obretenovic.

The first photo by A. Jovanovic

self-portrait photo by Anastas Jovanovich

Photo by Prince Mikhail Obrenovich by Anastas Jovanovic

Using the new technologies of his time, Jovanovic had the ambition to create a collection of paintings and lithographs in Belgrade. Initially, he started painting and shooting. After the new invention entered the country, he began to print photographs of buildings, fortresses, garrisons, statues, and even took photographs of famous Serbs from the country's elite. The new technique was ahead of its time. The emphasis on direct shooting of the objects, as well as the selection of the right angle of the photo, showed undoubted flair of this innovator in the field of photography and its formation as a new kind of art.


Some of his works are stored in Viennese museums, while others are in the hands of private collectors. Many Serbian magazines and newspapers also publish some of the photographs taken by Jovanovic. The government appreciates Jovanovic's qualities and helps showcase his works at various exhibitions across Serbia during 1850. This inspires many young Serbian photographers to take his path.


As part of the permanent collection of the Serbian History Museum, Belgrade, are about 892 of his photographs. His most important portrait studies are: Peter II Petrovich-Negosh; Mihail Obrenovic III, Prince of Serbia; the prominent Serbian linguist and founder of the Serbian language, Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic; poet Branko Radicevic, as well as many other celebrities. The portrait tradition of Anastas Jovanovic is continued by Milan Jovanovic, who died during World War II.

Anastas Jovanovich

In 1861, Anastas was appointed governor-general of Serbia. After the assassination of Prince Michael in 1868, he left his post and retired to live in his home in Belgrade. Jovanovic is the first person in Serbia to have a telephone. Apart from lithography and photography, he is also known for his work on the first microphone.


In 1899 he died at his home in Belgrade, in the presence of his family. Until recently, he was interested and kept up to date with the latest developments in photography, and with it he captured everything that "catches" his eye. His last words before he died were: "Sorry, sorry! I was interested in everything, but now everything is gone! "


Atanas Jovanovic lays the foundation for photography. It proves that Bulgarians are among the most alert people in the Ottoman Empire. Even the strongest chains are not able to break the urge of innovative spirit.

graphics and lithographs by Anastas Jovanovic

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