Damir Šagolj

Let us make some coffee and invite people over!

After years of visiting crisis areas and recording stories for the front pages of international publications, and having lived in Moscow, Bangkok and Beijing, award-winning photographer Damir Šagolj has settled down in his hometown.


Photos that testify to the tragedies of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh, for which he won the prestigious Pulitzer while part of Reuters, were on display in July during the retrospective exhibit, Through the Looking Glass – The First 25 Years.

- With my first solo exhibit in Sarajevo I marked 25 years of working in journalism and documentary photography. I’m glad it was held as part of the WARM Festival, which deals with modern world conflicts, and that it’s at the Academy of Fine Arts, where I spent as much time as I did at my Electrical Engineering faculty.

Sarajevo Jews

Upon returning to Sarajevo, he has continued to work at a calmer pace, which includes teaching photography at the Academy of Performing Arts.

- My focus has come back to Sarajevo and things that I fantasized about, but didn’t have time for, like the piece about Jerusalem and the fate of Sarajevo Jews, which is coming out in France in August in Le Monde.

He feels that Sarajevans have forgotten or missed out on many interesting things related to Sephardic Jews, who came during the time of Ottoman rule, and the Ashkenazi, who came with the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

- These stories are so interesting and rich that we can call them a city secret worth revealing. The residents of Sarajevo make the city special, so, as the perfect souvenir, I recommend the experience of having a talk and a human relationship with Sarajevans.

Damir says we need to do better at presenting intriguing events from our city’s history, make museums more interactive and embellish them with gift shops.

- Important stories like the start of WWI, which the Museum Sarajevo 1878-1918 looks at, or the time of the People’s Liberation War, which the Historical Museum of BiH talks about, can be better told to visitors. It’s just up to us to see what we have at home, put it in a display case, make some coffee and invite people over.

Monumental architecture

- The countries of former Yugoslavia are teeming with monuments that testify to the ideology and monumental architecture of one era. Many are in gorgeous natural settings in BiH national parks (Sutjeska, Kozara...), and they need to develop touristically so that we can all enjoy them.

Besides natural beauty, sights and attractions, like the Trebević cable car, he is really glad that Sarajevo is known as a major festival city.

- I always invite guests to Sarajevo when some of the fantastic festivals are going on: SFF, Bookstan Literature Festival, Jazz Fest, WARM (which I happen to be co-founder of)....

As for the perfect lunch, Damir recommends veal leg with somun at Mošćanica Aščinica in Dolac Malta, or pie at Žigo Buregdžinica, and relaxing in some cafes on Radićeva.