A towering figure stood before me on a sunny Autumn afternoon. We had chosen to meet at YumYum Restaurant and chat over a nice meal. His name was Toni Smailagic, a 23 year old photographer of Bosnian descent. He migrated to Florida with his mother and sister at the age of 13, and two years ago had decided to move up to New York in order to start his photography career. He now splits his time between New York and Florida. New York allows him to be ambitious and to work vigorously, while Florida allows him to spend time with his family and ease the stress of working in a big city. Lacking both a degree in photography and a background in the field, Toni started Tonismailagic.com when he was a freshman in college. I asked about his inspiration for photography; he said “I am fascinated by people and traveling. I am in love with learning about everything that the world has to offer. With photography, I am able to capture that split second of that person, the location or the mood that can never be repeated. Knowing that I have the power to create a mood and let someone else feel it, even ten years down the line, is exhilarating. I take great pleasure in calling this my career.” Toni has a keen interest in traveling and documentary photography.
Born in Europe, he has traveled through most of the European cities. The city he loves the most is Barcelona, Spain. He emphasized that “I love happy people, and the people there are so happy and joyful. Brazil as well, but Brazil is expensive; the way Brazilian people live is they make money, and then they spend all of it. I love it!” he laughed. Toni said that his next travel spot is Asia. He longs to take photos of everything that is mysterious. “I want to go to India as well”, he said. “But I don’t want to go to the tourist areas; I prefer places that haven’t been explored before, the places where real people live. I have some Indian friends and I’m always curious about the Indian culture. After that, it’s going to be Cambodia, Japan, and China.” He also expressed that “I don’t do plans. I hate planning. I don’t know what would happen for years and years. I know what I want to do, and I just want to do stuff that makes me happy. Money comes and goes. This is life, just enjoy the moment!” From what we see, Toni already has his life set!