In what ways can photography positively impact the promotion of tourism in Croatia? The question may sound simple to answer, but nowadays photography can be manipulated in such a way that the first impression of a tourist upon arriving at his destination is one of disappointment. It happens in many parts of the world. The use of visual content, to be used responsibly and strategically, can be essential to make Croatia known around the world.
Krivica Cove and beach, Lošinj (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Now I live in Croatia, but for 24 years of my life, my only reference was what I saw on the internet and on social networks. Now that I have spent two summers here, I can attest that Croatia has the advantage of meeting the expectations of those who came with a preconceived image in their heads. Those turquoise and transparent waters that you see in photos and videos, they are like that! But the Adriatic coast of Croatia is very extensive, and to it, we must add its more than 700 islands. Imagine the number of remote and wonderful places along almost 6000 kilometers of coastline that must exist to fulfill your fantasy of an Adriatic summer. Well, a Croatian photographer is dedicated to exploring, capturing, and sharing the magic of these places with his thousands of followers.
If you have looked for photos of Croatia to corroborate what everyone is surely saying about it, chances are that you have come across Timotej’s photos. Also, if you have seen one of his photos, it is most likely that you have already bought your air ticket to spend the following summer in the Adriatic.
Lopud Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Croatia will always stand out for its history, and its stories. But being someone who has lived most of his life on another continent, I am aware of the visual impact that Croatia has on other countries in the world. Especially in these times, many friends shared with me photos or videos that they found on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, or Twitter, and they could not believe that such a place existed, and especially in Europe. When it comes to paradise islands and turquoise waters, many think of Hawaii, the Caribbean, or the islands of Melanesia. But Croatia has already positioned itself as an alternative Eden, and one that combines dream destinations and a calendar packed with cultural activities.
I find it impressive that a photo is able to motivate someone to book airfare and accommodation. I think this reinforces the idea that the world is there to be explored, and that Croatia is one of those must-see destinations in it. But for this to work as it has been working in recent years, it is necessary that all the tourism promotion forces in the country aim towards the same objective. There is the National Tourism Board, the local Tourism Boards, and why not, talented Croatian citizens who use their platforms and content to highlight their country in a showcase.
Kamenjak, Istria (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
One such person is precisely the famous Croatian photographer Timotej Gošev, who’s approaching his mid-thirties, and currently living in Berkshire, England. He’s the owner of the @timotej Instagram account which has become one of the largest social media accounts in the world by sharing travel photography and recommendations from only around Croatia. With almost 100 thousand followers on Instagram, his pictures often go viral and are reposted and shared by some of the biggest media groups such as Forbes, Conde Nast, as well as the biggest re-sharing travel accounts on Instagram such as Earthpix, Travel & Leisure, Wonderful Places & Beautiful Destinations. If you haven’t seen his photography yet, be sure to check his Instagram first. He also has an impressive guide to his top 30 favorite beaches in Croatia, you can check it here.
Dubrovnik (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Timotej shares with Total Croatia News about his special connection to his country, his photography, tourism in Croatia, his future projects, and much more.
The vast majority of your followers and all of those who have come across your photographs on social media already know you for the quality of your work and your captivating images. But few know about your personal side and your history with Croatia. How does this connection with Croatia begin? Were you born and raised in Croatia?
It’s true. A lot of people see my photographs on Instagram, and just by looking at them can say this looks like one of Timotej’s photographs. However, very few people know me personally. Remember, I am a photographer sharing photos from around Croatia, through social media, to the world. I am not another influencer showcasing my life and hoping to influence you to be like me. My goal is to inspire people through my photography to visit and fall in love with Croatia.
It’s also very amusing to me, how so many people are surprised that I’m from Croatia. Even Croatians often assume I’m from somewhere else. I was introduced to Nina Badrić for example, and she knew of my photography but thought I was a Slovenian photographer. I think it’s purely because my name, Timotej (pronounced ‘Timo-tey’ in English), is not so common in Croatia. Think about it, most boys in Croatia are named after the first four books of the New Testament Bible. Ivan (John), Marko (Mark), Luka (Luke), Matej (Matthew). My mum wanted to be a little bit more original with her Biblical name choice, so she looked further down the list until she came to Timotej (Timothy). Simple and straightforward explanation.
Croatian figs (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
My parents came to study in England after finishing their high school and army service in Varazdin, so I was born in the UK. But a few years later we moved back, so my younger brother was born in Varaždin. After a few years, my parents realized they could make a better life for our family back in England. So, once again, we moved back. Thankfully Croatia is just a drive and short flight away from England, so I was lucky enough to visit very often growing up. I can speak, read, and write Croatian too. I believe an Instagram account like mine, can only really belong to a Croatian, in love with his country.
Nowadays, when one associates the words ”travel photography” and ”Croatia”, one of the first things that come to mind for a lot of people is ”Timotej”. How did you get started in photography and how has the learning process been so far? Is there another type of photography that you like equally?
I’ve been into photography for as long as I can remember. Cameras and lenses, all the gear, simply fascinates me. So does the quest to snap a perfect picture. As a child, I always wanted to press the camera’s shutter button and shoot everything. This wasn’t possible, as it was still the time of film cameras, and film roll was precious, so parents couldn’t let me waste it taking fifty pictures of nothing. So you can imagine my joy when digital cameras came into existence with memory cards.
Brseč, Primorsko-Goranska (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
As far as learning goes, when you figure out how to work a camera/lens, the shooting settings, and how light affects the scene being shot, everything comes down to one’s eye for a good picture. Personally, for me, the learning these days mostly centers around training my eyes even more. If you take 50 shots, 1 can easily turn out perfect. But the goal is to be able to take 1 shot and make it perfect first time. Sometimes this means learning to be patient. Waiting. It can also mean making a bigger effort to find a unique vantage point. Doing research to find out what has already been shot where you are shooting.
I love beachscape photography as you all know, and architectural too. I also love to shoot macro shots. I really want to do more wildlife and food photography in the future.
Restaurant Mandrač, Lopud Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
What inspires you to be a travel photographer and how has that changed in recent years?
I’m in love with the Croatian coast and the Adriatic Sea. Its beauty simply inspires me to capture it with my cameras. I am lucky and blessed to be able to call such a place, my country. I want to see and explore as many spots along the coast, and visit as many islands as my lifetime allows me too. Each place is its own world. People today are so obsessed with seeing as many countries as possible, but few have had the pleasure of truly knowing, exploring, and enjoying theirs. I love going back to a place I’ve already visited, to see how it’s changing, developing, and evolving. I am constantly inspired by the big and little changes happening everywhere. The way I see it is, that there is a lifetime of exploration for me and capturing moments with my camera. There is no getting bored.
How do you manage to balance your time between the UK and Croatia? Has Brexit affected in any way the way you travel between the two countries?
I like to be in Croatia during the summer, so I can enjoy the sea and beaches. It’s where I experience the most joy. Since I got my driving license, I have been planning my life in a way so I could spend the maximum possible time in Croatia every summer. To my surprise, neither Brexit nor Covid19 has affected my travels to Croatia. I have dual nationality. Croatian and British passports and therefore was legally allowed to travel to go to either home. With negative PCR test results, I drove England to Croatia three times during the pandemic. When you have a registered photography business in the UK, going to Croatia to shoot photos is a legitimate and valid reason to travel for work too.
How would you describe the personal style behind your photography? And how about your visual style?
I want people to look at my photographs, and simply desire to be right there in the place their eyes are seeing. To imagine themselves living the moment being shown. My photos need to mentally seduce and show the essence of an Adriatic summer experience in Croatia. People think my visual style is really unique, but it’s a classic beachscape visual style used in travel magazines and by some of the world’s most known beachscape photographers for decades.
Sveta Nedjelja beach, Hvar (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
It is a beautiful summer day in Croatia, how does Timotej spend it from start to finish?
I like to wake up early. No need for coffee. I really believe in seizing the daytime. I want to be the first on the beach. Put my towel in the best spot, and go for a morning swim to truly wake up. Love soaking in the early morning sun too. Around 9 am, it’s time for a light breakfast, and then back to the beach where I’ll stay until lunchtime being as active as possible. I prefer to stay in apartments, so for lunch, it’s usually time to cook something, rather than eat out. After lunch, it’s back to the sea/beach until sunset. The afternoon is usually about exploration. Then shower, dress up a bit and go to town for dinner and some ice cream. I always end up chilling on apartment terraces late into the night, always in good company getting into deep conversations.
It has happened to me on several occasions that I have decided to put my camera aside so as not to miss the experience. How do you manage to consistently create content and live in the moment at the same time? Do you have any advice for other travel photographers?
It’s actually very simple for me. When I go to a place in Croatia, I am not going there to take a picture. I am going there to enjoy the experience and moment of being in a place which brings me total joy. I live the moments fully with my camera at home, or in my backpack. After I enjoyed the place, explored it, I come back with/take out a camera. Also, I don’t live from making social media content and I don’t have any pressure to create content. My advice to travel photographers is that when you decide to shoot a place, make a decision to spend at least 1 week there. Don’t follow the content creator crowd, and a lot of Croatian photographers, are doing this, in that they go to a spot for a few hours with the purpose of taking a photo and then off to the next location.
Brela, Dalmatia (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
A photographer was telling me how they photographed every nice spot on Korcula Island in 1 day. Don’t make this same mistake. The world’s most famous beachscape photographers, when shooting a particular area, commit to spending a whole summer season there, chasing the billion-dollar shot, as we say. I can’t commit to a whole summer in one spot yet either, but everyone can do 3-7 days. 1 to enjoy without smartphones and cameras at least.
It could be said that you lean more towards photography of landscapes and places, but would you like to also venture into a type of travel photography where you can also highlight the Croatian people, their traditions, and their customs?
My focus is the Ljeto (Summer) in Croatia. The goal is to photograph and show the summertime experience. Naturally, there is a lot of landscape shots. But if you have been following me for a while you also see the entire summer experience. If I go into town at night and see a cultural dance, or traditional outfits, if I like what I see, I will photograph it. But right now, the priority is to show beaches and nature, accommodation, and things one can experience when visiting Croatia in the summer. I am showing what my audience wants to see.
Town of Rab (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
However, if Drago Sopta retires, I would gladly like to venture off and take over as the photographer of the Croatian National Football team and take pictures of the guys playing football. I believe in myself as a photographer, and my ability to shoot in a variety of styles.
It is said that there is an excessive amount of drone images to visually promote Croatia and that they do not accurately reflect the possible experience of a tourist (for example Izvor Cetina or the Croatian islands from above). But you manage to combine both images with a drone as well as those from a personal point of view. How can both promote tourism in Croatia?
Look, Zlatni Rat Beach shot with a drone, from above, looks like one of the most beautiful spots in this world. It’s unreal. Then you come there, stand on the beach, and you can’t really see it from the vantage point the drone did. So you now have two options. The first is to get upset, choose to be negative, and leave disappointed, as many do. Or you can think about it, and say to yourself, I’m standing on this magical beach full of shape-shifting pebbles, surrounded by perfect water, and enjoy the beach all day. Every destination spot in the world that looks good from above is excessively photographed with drones. Those saying it doesn’t accurately reflect the tourist experience are a very small minority, and they are there for the wrong reason in my opinion. I believe you need both to give the true picture to someone. Let them know what it looks like from above and below. Balance is key. I like to show how it looks from ground level and from the sky.
Otok Vrnik (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Many content creators avoid bringing discussion topics to their feed to avoid losing followers or getting into disputes with them. But in addition to visually promoting Croatia, you also take the time to raise awareness about caring for the environment, such as animal rights and the situation about smoking in Croatia. Is it necessary for content creators to be ambivalent in that regard? What responsibilities should someone with so many followers and a lot of reach assume?
I always speak my mind. From day one on Instagram. I have my opinions, and my account is a space where I can share them as well as my photography. I don’t expect everyone to agree with them and that’s okay. Does Croatia have a smoking problem? Yes. Have tourists noticed it? Yes. Is it destroying our beaches? Yes. A lot of what I highlight are facts and truth. Common sense. It’s already been said by others, and it’s very much connected to keeping Croatia’s land beautiful and not destroying it. I don’t live from Instagram, so if I lost all my followers tomorrow, it does not affect me in any way. As for disputes, occasionally some arise, but surprisingly not a lot. I think the things which I’m highlighting are things the overwhelming majority of my followers agree with me on. We all want to keep Croatia clean and beautiful for generation after generation.
One Table Restaurant, Hvar Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Regarding the promotion of tourism in Croatia, what aspects and efforts made by the national and local tourist boards in the last two years can you highlight?
I don’t see anything the National Tourist Board does, and as the majority of the tourist sector in Croatia, see them as irrelevant, and a waste of taxpayers’ money. The Local Tourist Boards, on the other hand, are great. I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of them now. It’s hard to keep everyone happy, but they are doing their best. I can say and see they are finally embracing social media, and valuing its importance more than ever. Making sure they have a strong social media presence, as well as using people like me, and other Croatian photographers to showcase their tourist regions to the world.
Žitna Beach, Korčula Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
In what aspects do you think the promotion of tourism in Croatia should improve? Is there something you can criticize?
The biggest issue I noticed is the relationship between the local tourist boards, and the locals working in the tourist sector. It seems everyone is against the tourist boards and everything they do, with only a small minority pleased. I’ve been to places, and I like to talk to locals, and the moment they find out I’m involved with the local tourist board, they don’t want anything to do with me! Why? Well for starters Local Tourist boards should have nothing to do with political elections and political parties. The tourist boards should exist to serve the tourist, those offering tourist services, and they should be neutral. Also too many tourist board employees, naturally have friends working in the tourist sector and thus drive tourists to only use their services. I think you can guess what kind of issues that can create. The tourist boards should be the pride of the local tourism sector. A fair helping hand, letting the tourists know all their possibilities. Show them all the options on offer, and let them choose which to go with. I also really think it’s time for an official tourist app, where everyone in the tourist sector can list their tourist offers for free. Create it with taxpayer money. Tourists can use the app to find out and search for everything. Beach information. Boat rentals. Taxi numbers. Available accommodation. In 2021, one shouldn’t have to go to a tourist office for information anymore.
Badija Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
In what ways can photographic content contribute to effective tourism promotion in Croatia? How important is it?
People travel to different places in the world for different reasons. Everyone is looking for something specific. An image they have seen either in a photo or video usually serves as the primary mental motivation for doing so. They want to see that image with their own eyes. I have always argued that people come to Croatia first and foremost for the natural beauty of the sea and beaches. The old towns. Natural parks. I loved our old tourist slogan, the Mediterranean as it once was. So, before booking a flight or hotel, people want to know what the particular area they are potentially going to visit has on offer. I have been the first Croatian photographer to share certain places in Croatia on Instagram for the very first time, and the response was, we had no idea this place existed.
I’ll give you a personal example. I grew up spending summers around Zadar. Since I was a kid. Only recently as an adult, I discovered one of the most beautiful spots in Croatia. Vrsi, right by Zadar. I never saw this spot advertised anywhere. So I never went there. Some beaches like Zlatni Rat were advertised everywhere, so normally, I went there, and it was crazy crowded. By showing a little bit of every place, you are now giving people the choice to go to so many places.
Stiniva Cove, Vis Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
If you could describe Croatia to your followers as an ideal travel destination, based on five unique aspects, which ones would you choose?
1. Raw natural beauty everywhere. 2. The crystal clear blue water. 3. Safety. We are an extremely safe country for tourists throughout the day and night. One of the lowest crime rates in the world I believe. 4. Quality of food and drink. 5. There’s something for everyone.
Is there anything in particular in Croatia that catches your attention and would you like to investigate further? I have seen that at some point you inquired about the history of abandoned stone houses on the Croatian coast and islands. It is really a fascinating subject.
The abandoned stone houses are a sad story. I really hope the property ownership laws change soon. They are killing Croatia. A lot of people say it’s impossible. But I believe there’s an easy fix to it if you apply common sense. Pass a law, that every property in Croatia within 2-3 years has to have one owner owning 100% of it. No more multiple owners, owning small percentages. If some owners can’t agree on a deal between themselves, it goes to auction among all the owners, and the highest bidder gets the property. Why hasn’t this happened? I hear lawyers in Zagreb make a killing on these property disputes. I also think Croatia has a serious waste management problem. Especially on the islands. I’ve heard shocking accounts from those who live on the islands about what really happens with the waste tourism generates. I think the situation is worse than many believe. And if that’s really true, we need to do something about it. I truly believe the world sees Croatia as a clean country where natural beauty can be seen in abundance which is its biggest selling point. The land is really ‘Lijepa Naša’ and it needs to stay that way.
Otok Vrnik (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Connected with this issue are the party sailing trips such as The Yacht Week. Everywhere they go, they leave so much rubbish behind it’s unreal. In the sea. I’ve seen it. Again and again. All the locals I meet in the entire tourism sector as well as those simply living in the spots The Yacht Week comes by, wants these party sailing holidays banned. It’s beyond me how this hasn’t happened yet. Whoever is giving them the green light to continue summer after summer needs to be put in the spotlight.
Besides being a travel photographer, do you also consider yourself a travel journalist? Many content creators upload their photos or videos and that’s it, but you like to include reflections, chronicles, and recommendations alongside your images. Is it something that you are interested in developing further in the future?
I grew up reading travel magazines like Conde Nast, and I currently collect travel-themed coffee table books full of pictures with text. There’s always a story behind what you see in a photograph and something to learn. I do consider myself an excellent writer in the English language. People have noticed this, and this past year, a few travel magazines and a national airline, asked me to write for them about Croatia, as well as showcase my photography to their readers. I hope more people will ask in the near future. It’s something I love doing.
Čikat Bay, Lošinj Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
What does your Instagram profile look like on a summer day in Croatia? How do you usually interact with your followers or people who need help or recommendations?
During the summer the plan is to share 2-3 posts a day. The pictures being posted are usually what I photographed 1-2 days prior. Also, because we are in the summer season, many of my followers are currently in Croatia, or about to visit. This results in a crazy amount of questions. I used to answer every question without fail in previous years, but with an increasing number of followers, it’s impossible sadly. Remember I’m not getting paid to do this. It takes a lot of time. This summer I was receiving roughly 300-500 messages a day. A lot of people also don’t read the caption in my posts and then send messages, for example, asking what’s the name of the beach in the picture I just posted, without making an effort to read the caption where this has already been stated. This is very frustrating. However the questions generally are usually based on recent posts, so I try to answer a lot of them in one of the next posts or stories.
Bol, Brač Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Besides photography, what other things do you spend your time on? Do you have any other interests or hobbies that are just as exciting?
Out of the summer season, I live in England, so when I’m not working, I really love to play sports. I play football, basketball, volleyball every week, competitively. Then there’s gym and lap swimming. I’ve always been into cooking too. So, always trying to master certain dishes and learn new ones. In the summertime, besides photography, it’s very much every activity connected to the water. I’m a big water sports lover. I love diving. I’m a very active individual. I love the company of friends too. I’m a very social extrovert that likes to laugh a lot.
What next projects do you have planned? What are the next steps in Timotej’s life and career?
Oh, I have a lot of ideas. Some are already slowly turning into reality. I would love to see more art stores around the world selling my prints of beautiful beachscapes from around Croatia. At the moment it’s just a few in England. As well as being a good photographer, I also believe in my ability to capture video, so expect to see some epic short films soon. I’m also already working on my very own coffee table book taking you on a journey around Croatia’s coast and islands. I’m really excited for this. I have the photographs and text, and just need to find the right publisher to make the dream come true. Lastly, due to demand, I think I will slowly get into trip planning. So many people want me to plan their visit to Croatia. I’m honoured.
Pritišćina beach, Vis Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Your talent as a photographer, and your Instagram account, have resulted in many collaborations over the last few years. What’s your favourite one so far? Is there one you would really love to do in the future?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. I love them all. This past summer I did a collaboration with Valamar Hotels. Had the chance to visit all their hotels across Croatia over a period of 6 weeks. It was amazing. Shooting the hotels, rooms, beaches in front of the hotels. The facilities. Loved every second. The sailing collaborations are always unforgettable too. What would I love to do? Shoot Villa Sheherezade in Dubrovnik. Or shoot a mega-yacht in Croatia. I dream big.
Lopud Island (Photo: Timotej Gošev)
Finally, are you planning to ever move to Croatia permanently?
If you ask me, “Timotej, would you like to live in Croatia one day?” The answer is obviously going to be a definite yes, yes I would. However, I wouldn’t want to live there throughout the whole year. I can see myself living there between April and October. I’m the type of person who dreams of having multiple homes. At least two in two different countries. But in life, you should also never say never. If the right opportunity arises, who knows, I might end up living in Croatia all year long. Living there would give me the chance to photograph Croatia during all the seasons, and not just summer.
For everything you need to know before planning your next summer vacation in Croatia and all these magical destinations shown in this article, be sure to check Timotej’s Instagram account and our new guide to everything Croatia, Total Croatia, here.
If you don’t have Instagram, follow him on Facebook.
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