Vrgorac as it Once Was – An Interview with the Editor Branko Radonić

Total Croatia News

(photo: Vrgorac Nekada / Australia 1930s)
It fascinates us to see old photographs of places we know so well. It is amazing how cities change – some buildings stay, other long forgotten. Not to mention people – the way they used to dress, whole families, or particular events. All captured by often black-and-white photographs, which are being collected and shared through social media with the world.

“Vrgorac as it Once Was” (Vrgorac Nekada) is a Facebook Page administrated by Branko Radonić. Branko, a professor of history and geography was born in 1985 and currently lives and works in Vrgorac as an elementary-school teacher. For 10 years, he is actively exploring the history of the Vrgorac area. He wrote dozens of articles about the history of Vrgorac published in local newspapers, organised two exhibitions, blogs for Vrgorac.blog.hr and writes for Vrgoračke Novine and Makarska Kronika.

We are delighted to bring you a short interview with Branko about his wonderful work behind the “Vrgorac as it Once Was”.

Why “Vrgorac as it Once Was”? How did you start the FB page?

– “Vrgorac as it Once Was” was launched to popularize my project of collecting old photographs of Vrgorac and the villages of the Vrgorac region. But not only because of that. In fact, not many collectors like to reveal the results of their discoveries to the public. In my opinion, all my work is actually the heritage of my city and I am happy to present those photographs to the world. I think, it is very important to take a long forgotten photo out of the closet, to publish it and present it to the Vrgorac people, because it is the heritage of us all, regardless of who is the private owner of the photo. I want to emphasize, that this project is completely free of charge for Vrgorac people. All costs of the project are covered by me independently. Because this is more than a hobby, it is a passion. The page exists little over a year now with over 500 photos published so far. Each photo has its own number and it can be easily tracked as the project grows.-

(photo: Vrgorac Nekada / Dragljani 1942)

Where did all those great published photos come from?

– For the last 10 years and more intensively for the last 5 years, I have been collecting old photos, showing motives of the old Vrgorac and villages of the Vrgorac region. I collect them from local people, by field work, through acquaintances and social media. The principle is always the same. I borrow the photos, scan them in highest possible resolution and give the originals back to the owner. The owner of the original gets his photo back as a part of his family heritage and a digital format of the photo becomes a property of all of us via internet. For each photo, I record the owner´s name and basic information, such as what is shown on the photograph, when was it taken, etc. So far, I´ve collected over 1.500 photos from 150 people from Vrgorac region and the Diaspora living in Croatia and abroad. And the collection grows bigger every day. I collect everything, from the oldest photos from the Austro-Hungarian period to those most recent ones, taken barely twenty years ago.-

(photo: Vrgorac Nekada / Vrgorac 1975)

Which period of the history of Vrgorac is the most interesting one for you personally?

– The common fact for all periods of the history of Vrgorac, is that they are unexplored, in professional as well as in scientific manner. While I was studying, I was interested in the old history of Vrgorac, but for the last several years, I completely turned to researching the history of Vrgorac area of the 20th century.-
(photo: Vrgorac Nekada / Banja 1920s)

In your opinion, which are the top 5 best photos published at the site?

– It is difficult to choose the best photos, but in general I like photos showing the Vrgorac city, its buildings, streets, ways of life and customs. All that, which existed in the times of our grandparents, which is now almost forgotten. Of course, the most oldest photos are always very attractive to everyone. Or those taken in the period, when only very little was photographed, like from the year 1945. I always tend to involve people in this work. Often I post a photo with naming people on the photograph. Then people can name their ancestors through commenting on the FB post. Such bilateral communication complements the information about the photo and is the best advertisement for the page and this project at the same time. I really enjoy doing it.-
And we do enjoy these pictures, Branko. Thank you for finding and posting them. Check out all the photos and follow the site here.

(photo: Vrgorac Nekada / Pjaca 1975)


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