Impressions on Some of the Iconic Photos of Bosnia and Herzegovina



Surely, a lot of people have a lot of beautiful things to say about this iconic photo of Meliha. A young woman in heels, hair and make-up in place, walking back home from work, passing an armed soldier, chins up and unaware of being photographed. She is reported to have discovered this photo only when she was delivered a copy of the magazine where this Tom Stoddart photo was published years later. The photo apparently captured the real Meliha with all the empowering elements of being a woman when everything around you is coming down and the future is bleak. Some women carry this superpower of going the extra mile in their fights against the challenges and Meliha is one of them. The fact that it is not a fictional photo takes it to another level of admiration for me and for her to be able to enact the pose years later by her will is great to see.




Bosko and Admira

This one is a heartbreaking love story that is shared between a young couple who was lucky to have found and loved each other against all odds in wartime and went to death together arm in arm. Though I understand why their last photo would be made public, I object to use it here or even view it as I believe it’s as private as their love. True love should be remembered, cherished and like in this case, commemorated in its best form with the best memories only. The background story can be read everywhere but my point is seeing their last photo is too private and difficult to take and this couple deserves a better highlight for their true love connection.





We know war is a cruel thing and it aims to destroy all that it can; be it humanbeings, buildings, history, economy, pride, everything… This image of the bombarded Mostar bridge tells me a lot not because it is our ancestors who built it in 16thcentury but because of the inhumane response that was given centuries later to Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han’s Ahidname for Bosnia (Ahdname) in which he ruled the following: “ No one will inhibit the people or their churches, no one will bother them, they will live in my land with no hesitation. Even those who flee will be safe.

They shall live in our land without fear and will settle in their churches. No one, including me, my vazirs, obedients or anyone from the public shall touch or hurt them, their belongings or churches. I swear to the Creator of the Land and the Skies, Qu’ran and the holy Prophet (pbuh) that as long as these people are in my obedience, they will not disobey commands written here”

Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han probably never guessed the apple of his eye would be targeted in the “modern” era…





An “Influential” Photo

Probably the last thing I’d like to do to earn a living in this world is to be a war photographer. Witnessing such a horrific scene is one thing and passing it on to your employer for publication is another. I have always had a dual feeling about war images like this one, which undoubtedly deeply saddens me but also makes me think that a victim’s reality is a money-making commodity for the media. This image is listed in Time’s magazine’s “one of the most influential photos of all time” collection. Do I need to say more?




Winter Olympics


The Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo shortly before I was born so the hype built around it is largely unknown to me. I’d have probably never known that the city hosted this event back in 1980’s if my friends had not mentioned it to me like it happened last year! To my surprise, this event has been unforgettable for them and a proud moment to cherish. The Bosnians are exceptionally at good terms with winter and nature sports hence the passion I suppose. I hope large-scale sports events or maybe another winter Olympics takes place in Bosnia in near future, I’m sure it’ll be as glorious as the Film Festival which highlights the city’s name and brings it to forefront every year.



Bosnian Coffee


We cannot escape granulated coffee, all the machined coffee, the heavy mugs, the coffee chain foamy mixtures, the vase-like cartoon cups although we’d want to, sounds so effortless. When I see a photo like this, I see effort. You don’t press a button, you brew the coffee. That’s effort. You prepare it for someone you want to sit down with and talk. You cannot haste that chat. That is effort, too. You make and serve in copperware, mostly in decorated ones. Again, effort! Okay, maybe not yours, but the coppersmith’s. You serve in a small cup with no holder. It can be too hot to hold. Again, effort! It is our type of enjoying life with some special effort provided at all stages by just coffee…


Written by Merve Gul for Sarajevo Times











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