Jelena (left) and Julia (right) are watching sunset on a pasture with their white stallion. The Mladenov family receives annual financial support from the state for the preservation of this breed of mountain horse.
The family is resting in a hayloft in the late afternoon after a long day of grazing on the pastures. Thirty sheep, five cows, two goats and some poultry are their only source of income. After a short break, the parents are going to milk the animals, and the girls will bring in firewood.
From left to right: Aleksandar, Jelena, Julia, and their friend Marijan on a pasture a few kilometres away from the farm. Every day, after school, the girls help their father with grazing, and sometimes Marijan joins them to keep them company.
Amidst the tranquil embrace of depopulated Southeastern Serbia, a serene scene unfolds. As the first light of dawn pierces, a flock of graceful geese emerges on a remote farm. Their stately gestures, shrouded in mist, seem to dance in the ethereal ambiance, carrying an air of timeless beauty. In this tranquil corner of the world, the geese take centre stage, a reminder of the untouched charm that thrives in the heart of rural Serbia.
Jelena is doing her summer homework. Next year, she is going to be in the 5th grade, and she is a little bit scared of new school subjects, so she must study and prepare.
Jelena’s exercise book, “I like to draw, and when I grow up I would like to become an art teacher.”
Jelena poses for a photo among the flowering trees as the first day of grazing begins after the snow melts on the pastures. Behind her, the snow-capped peak of Kom in the Stara Planina mountain (2016m) is visible.
Jelena holds a pair of butterflies as she explores the pasture, discovering the wonders of nature around her.
Emilija and the sisters are going to town to sell a few bottles of milk. They have regular customers, and the local milk factory also purchases the milk. Additionally, the oldest barber shop in town assists them in selling the milk by keeping the bottles so that Emilija doesn’t need to wait for customers on the street.
An old toy sewing machine.
The farm in the morning fog.
The sisters are grinding corn using a manual corn thresher. This corn will serve as additional food for the cows and sheep during the winter.
After struggling with infertility for a decade, the mother’s dream of having children was finally realized through in vitro interventions. With a mixture of hope and anxiety, she embarked on this journey, and her perseverance was rewarded when she gave birth to two beautiful twin girls. However, their early arrival meant that the newborns had to spend the first six months of their lives in incubators, where they received the specialized care they needed to thrive. It was a challenging start, but their arrival brought immeasurable joy and gratitude to the family after years of longing for children.
: White stallion in the morning fog.
Surrounded by the love of their close-knit family, the birthday celebration for the twin girls was a heartwarming and intimate affair. The twins’ smiles radiated happiness as they blew out their candles, their giggles filling the room with pure joy. The warmth of family bonds made this special day even more memorable as everyone gathered to create cherished moments that the twins will carry with them throughout their lives. It was a day filled with laughter, hugs, and the sweetest memories, truly capturing the essence of family love.
Julia rides her bike in the morning fog, and she’s still in the process of learning how to ride. She seizes every moment to practice and improve.
Julia poses for a photo in a pasture, wearing her oversized blazer, allowing her to comfortably lie down on the grass and relax while the sheep rest in the shade during hot summer days.

Stefan Pavić, winner 2023 VID Grant.
Photo by Mitar Simikić