Welcome back to First-Person Shooter, a photo series that offers a brief vantage into the world of compelling and strange individuals. Each Friday, we give two disposable cameras to one person to document a night of his or her life.
It wasn't easy to reimburse Luka Marjanovic, a Bosnia-based newspaper deliveryman who documented his morning route using two disposable cameras we sent him. PayPal, Quickpay, Venmo, Square, and every other service refused complete transactions with Bosnia for various reasons, though that probably shouldn't have come as a surprise. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a complicated country with a rough history, still reverberating from the shock of a war and genocide that raged just over 20 years ago. Recent reports estimate that unemployment across the country today is over 40 percent.
Luka, however, likes his gig and is thankful to have the work, even despite his early call time. Every morning, seven days a week, he wakes up around 3 AM and heads to a hospital complex where a minivan drops off the morning papers. After picking up his share, he spends the next two to three hours delivering the news on bike throughout Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital city.
"It leaves me enough time to pursue other things," he told us after sending back his exposures. "I have been considering a 'career change' lately—it just seems there's nothing better to do around here right now, you know?"
Luka photographed his delivery route, the run-down buildings that are omnipresent in certain areas of the capital city, and a bunch of Bosnian dogs he saw on his morning. He also answered some questions about what he documented.
VICE: What was your day like?
Luka Marjanovic: I woke up at what was supposed to be 5:30 AM, but daylight savings kicked in on Sunday morning, so I lost an hour. I went to pick up the newspapers, then got a flat tire [on my bike] during the delivery, so I had to walk a little and use a trolleybus.
Did it matter that you lost an hour of time?
Not really. I can start as early as 3 AM, but my wake up times are getting worse the longer I'm on the job. Customers don't mind by now :)
Do you get paid by the publications themselves?
It used to be like that, but now we get paid by the number of subscribers per address, so we can carry less but still earn about the same. It's mostly senior citizens on my line, so it's mostly one paper per subscription.
I noticed some older people in the photos. What about them caught your attention?
This one old guy saw me taking photos, so he wanted to get his story across to me. A couple of streets around his house were no man's land during the war here, and the buildings in that area got completely destroyed by the artillery. His house happens to be next to one of those [areas], and parts of it might collapse. He's in the danger zone. The community is doing nothing about it. Most of these buildings are from the 19th century and are under the state protection as cultural monuments.
Are the rundown houses typical throughout all of Bosnia? Or just in the area you deliver to?
Well, it's from the war that went on here in Bosnia. Lots of buildings have been, let's say 'fixed.' But some not so much, or not at all—especially some neighborhoods. There happens to be lots of those fixed buildings in the area I deliver in.
What do you mean by fixed?
General house renovation in Bosnia is financed mostly through donations. But most of that money ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and greedy businessman. If [the buildings] weren't completely burned down and shelled, they would just get patched up. Most of the 19th and early 20th century buildings got their facades completely redone, but in a such inadequate manner material-wise and sloppy [workmanship] that it's an embarrassment.
What are the conditions of the country like generally right now?
Well, there is no political consensus between the national leaders because Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multinational state, and every year we only have about 27 percent of the funds needed for the country's total budget. The economy is that weak. Unemployed is at about 40 percent, but people still get by somehow.
Do you like delivering papers?
I would just like to point out that despite it being a paid job (not even a part-time job—it takes me a little over two hours and it pays better then most low-responsibility jobs here in Bosnia), it also does a great job of keeping me fit and making me get up early every morning. It leaves me enough time to pursue other things, too. So I've been sticking to it for a little while. I have been considering a 'career change' lately—it just seems there's nothing better to do around here right now, you know?
What did you do after you finished delivering?
Got a coffee and relaxed with the Wills Jeep in the History museum—that jeep was made in 1941.