Belgrade after hours
Hanging out with Serbia’s nocturnal misfits
Street photographer Boogie has spent years shedding light on the world’s darkest corners, taking unflinching portraits of druglords, criminals, and post-war landscapes.
In a new project, he turns his attention to Belgrade Zoo – a skate crew who capture the long-lost spirit of punk rock rebellion.
I first met the guys from Belgrade Zoo skate crew around two or three years ago. We were at a party in the city, and one of them recognised me. He came up to me and showed me a tattoo he had – a portrait of a gangster – which turned out to be of my photos.
We kept in touch after that.
For me, when I think of rebellion, what crosses my mind is the British punk rock movement of the late 70s. And when I started hanging out with Belgrade Zoo, they somehow reminded me of that. They share the same unspoilt, raw energy. It’s not tangible; I can’t even explain it; it's just a pure energy. They have no specific agenda – they’re not trying to change anything, and there’s no political motive. It’s about the way they live their life: they skate, tattoo each other, and hang out.
While the crew come close, there’s definitely nothing out there that matches the rebellious spirit of the punk rock movement. That amount of energy among young people will never be allowed again – no government will ever allow it. Because frankly, that’s where the real power is.
I feel like everything is pretty controlled nowadays. We’re under surveillance, and we’re self-policing more than ever. The internet sounds like it should allow more freedom, but I’m not really sure it’s done that.
From a creative perspective, I think the internet has been counterproductive. Everything is readily available. It is harder for people to find their voice now. There are so many things out there, that it’s easy to get lost and start emulating somebody else without even realising. Everything is oversaturated. It’s hard to disconnect yourself and to follow your gut, your own path.
One good thing is that there is at least some democracy now. Everyone can be a photographer – everyone has a smartphone, and everyone can nail a good shot. I’m not against that, because quality will always rise up.
I developed my own voice by just going out and shooting. There was no internet, and I didn’t have enough money to buy photo books, but that was a blessing. I was doing my own thing and I wasn’t looking at other people’s work.
People tell me there is some darkness to my photography. That might be the case – I started shooting in Serbia in the 90s. Those were dark days for the country. It probably just stuck with me.
Now, I just shoot whatever I feel like shooting. It’s not about trying to give people what they expect; it’s about following your gut. If I feel like shooting flowers, I’ll shoot flowers.
Good shots are everywhere. I carry my camera, my point and shoot, at all times. I don’t leave my house without it. My inspiration is just everyday life. Everything is constantly changing – you’re changing, your mood is changing, the weather is changing.
This article is part of a series featuring iconic and emerging voices in street photography. Read more stories from This Is Off The Wall, an editorial partnership from Huck and Vans.