As collectors of discarded goods for over 20 years, the members of the Salihović family are often seen as outcasts in their hometown of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But this family of seven approaches their daily routine like any other family: they wake up early, plan their day, and organize themselves in preparation to perform their usual tasks.

Portrait of Mila (b.2004). She is the only one of her brother and sisters to continue her education and enroll in high school. She does not want to work in the family business. She wants to make a change and develop herself.
Mila is an abbreviated from the name Samila. The Salihović family has been collecting waste for more than 20 years. A family of five children, Mila is the only one finishing high school and wants to get a job.
Mila (b.2004) is returning from school. She loves animals. Dogs she likes a little more because they are carefree like her, while cats she finds to be more cunning.

I am a documentary photographer. I find inspiration in the unknown and the feeling of possibility that is created within it and have an interest in photo stories in the form of series and long-term projects, a reality photography that examines social values”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.

Father Ahmo (b.1956) started collecting waste in 1997. At that time, the work was mostly done by Roma. Ahmo was a respected bricklayer at the time. At the very beginning, he was reserved about starting to collecting waste, but soon he saw the benefits of being his own boss. It was a good way to earn money, but today it is harder to deal with it. Ahmo likes to joke and say, people don’t throw things away like they used to.

This ongoing project entitled simply Mila started in 2014. Of the family’s five children (four daughters and a son), only Mila (real name Samila), regularly attends school. Just 11 years old when this project began, Mila has proven to be a brilliant problem solver. With her whole life ahead of her, it is uncertain how her story will unfold, but the project will continue to document her journey up until her 18th birthday.

Melvida (b.1972) is the main organizer of the collected items that they found. She sets aside goods for Ahmo, what for quick sales and what for the market. Melvida is Ahmo third wife.

My photographs express emotions and perceive people, the environment and situations in a personal way. I manage to work spontaneously and intuitively – adapting to changes in light, atmosphere and circumstances; animated by unplanned, temporary encounters with people and places in their state at that very moment”. Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.

Melvida (b.1972) poses in the market that works every Tuesday and Friday. She sells mainly clothes, toys, tools and household items.
Although Mila still depends on her parents, she makes it clear that she wants to change that soon. As a daughter, she is more connected to her mother.

The Salihović family is a Muslim family with origin from Bijeljina. Their case, without a doubt, goes to show a problem that the world is sliding into with too much inertia: While this great world thrives, making every idea that comes to mind possible, the needs of ordinary people seems to be forgotten. Their story is always overlooked and, in the meantime, they continue their lives the only way they know how.

Only 14 years old when I met Mila, even then she showed great interest in acting and playing football. She enrolled in the Agricultural High School. Now her interests are changing. Mila does not want her face to be seen in the photos. She thinks she’s not pretty enough like the girls she looks at on Instagram.
The carpet on the swing is drying. Everything that goes to the market and sells, is washed beforehand in order to increase the value.

My goal is to create a space in which the audience can feel empathy for my subjects and get involved in my stories. A couple of seemingly contradictory motives are at the heart of my practice: a desire for order and simplicity and a fascination with the small details in my subjects”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.

Older sister Sanela (b.2002) had a plan to go to high school too. She enrolled in high school to become a Hair Stylist. But she quit her education after three months. Sanela married at the age of 20 to a Roma guy. Her father did not approve of the relationship, but in the end Sanela made up her own mind and got married.

Relaying the story of a young woman is not new in visual storytelling. However, Mitar’s images show him as the silent person in the room. It is clear he has a very intimate relationship with the family as he has been following them for a longer time. This is a very coherent story of a family which is seen as the outsider within the community of Bijeljina.

The main source of income is copper collection. The highest price is always on the market. The current price has never been as high as it is this year: 17 euros for one kilo of copper.
Almedina is Mila’s best friend. Not just a sister. Mila looks to her younger sister as the more beautiful sibling. They share clothes. Mila is not a smoker, but sometimes in conversations with Almedin she will light a cigarette. She did not continue here education after primary school. Like every teenager, she considers first love to be the most important thing. She likes to say “Life is short”.

“One can say that I am often entirely preoccupied with the stories I record. This obsession with detail is sometimes embedded in my photographs that reflect the complexity of my surroundings. In other cases, I distil the extremes of visual and sensory information into bare, graphically accurate images”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.

“Getting recognition from the VID Foundation will not only help me to develop the next phase of this work, but will also help to penetrate deeper into Salihović family and Mila’s identity through a visual tool and create a unique photographic work which breaks the boundaries in documentary photography”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.