Authentic Dalmatian

This summer we’ve hosted a workshop called Storytelling Through Photography.

A part of the workshop was us remembering how to tell stories more deliberately, and another part was looking at photographs that had tales of their own to tell. The third part was us going out into the city and capturing its essence through the lens of our own attention:

What do I notice about these streets ?
What stories does the city tell me, if I slow down enough to listen ?

At first the assignment seemed forced and artificial ~ living in the 21st century, most of us have mastered the reflex of taking & sharing pictures of everything that could be remotely interesting. I almost felt like it was too easy. At first I took the habitual pictures of the most visited tourist spots, the most “instagramable” areas, the most recognizable landmarks… yet for all their visual appeal, they didn’t quite tell me a story.

I started wandering into the smaller streets and slowing my pace until my attention shifted to the smaller details. The texture of the stone walls, the smell of clean laundry drying overhead, the faint sound of someone’s grumpy grandma, the quirky drawings on the filled window frame.

The plants that insist on growing in the silliest places:

The cult-like following of soccer, somehow woven in with the city’s saint:

split croatia bicycle graffiti hajduk

The more I walked around, the louder the streets spoke to me.
The conversation got more genuine, more intimate.

During the season there are thousands of things & experiences sold as “Authentic Dalmatian”, yet I think that most visitors will never get to see this place for what it is.

The real Dalmatia shines through the places that didn’t get polished up for the summer.
Like this door:

To me, this door perfectly captures the feeling of what it’s like to be here on daily basis.

The old, ornate metal design showing the rich historical heritage, the mold – a show of outdated mentalities. The metal sill added to the bottom of the door – the culture of “quick fixes”, and the undying belief in the evils of promaja (draft).

The “mail slot” is the ridiculous amount of innovation and creativity directed by locals at the most insane things. The name handwritten above it – the bold statement of ownership, as Croatia slowly regains her identity.

The fact that this radically messy, old door full of character is still there is an amazing testament to the region’s resilience despite all of its struggles.

And the fact that this door is right around the corner from the polished, busy tourist area is a delightful reminder that “Authentic Dalmatia” does exist ~ and is accessible to curious eyes and attentive ears.