Photography—it’s all about passion, skill, and commitment. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a professional photographer is like? Every week, we ask a 500px photographer to document a day at work, giving you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at their shooting schedule and techniques in the field.

This week, we’re spending an entire day following portrait photographer and retoucher Maja Topcagic. Her standout fashion and beauty portraits have taken our photo community by storm—with a legion of over 30,000 followers on 500px and 100,000 on Facebook. What else can we say—this talented 24-year-old has a keen eye and knack for capturing timeless style in her images, from chic vintage-inspired glamour shots to effortless, bare-faced closeups in natural light.

We think it’s about time you get to know this Bosnia and Herzegovina-based photographer a little better. Ready to step into her world, and see how she spends a full day’s work of shooting portraits? Read on!

24 Hours with Maja Topcagic


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 5.26.12 AM

9 A.M. My alarm goes on. I am not a morning person, so I turn it off a couple of times. Then I get up, and have a two cups of black coffee to start the day. I have to have an hour alone to be fully awake.

10 A.M. Now I plug in my camera battery for charging, and pack up the stuff I need for my photo shoot. I prepare my rucksack with my Canon 5D Mark II body, 85mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses. I always bring my silver aluminum 40×40 cm portable reflector. Then I put in some props, like clothes or hats needed for the shoot. Sometimes I bring a tripod, and an extra memory card.

11 A.M. I spend this time listing all my ideas on my iPhone to remember all the shots and everything else I want to achieve with the model, and to make sure I don’t forget something. I often turn an alarm on my cellphone to remind myself of something during the shoot.

12 P.M. I head out to the location of the shot which I’ve arranged with the model. I don’t work with make-up artists or hair stylists. I prefer to capture natural looks. I usually tell my models to apply only little bit of make-up.

1 P.M. I meet the model, and we walk over to our location. We talk a bit. I try to tell some jokes to create a comfortable and relaxed situation for the model. The shoot will be starting soon.

2 P.M. We shoot about for an hour, and then we move to another location. I rarely change more than two locations. Usually, I don’t mind if people are walking all around me as I shoot in a public place. I’m either on the ground shooting, or on my knees, or the model is in some kind of strange pose. I’ve gotten used to it. Now it’s just funny when people stare at us, and take photos of us with their mobile phones.

3 P.M. Time for a break! We head to the nearest cafe, and have a cup of coffee. Sometimes, I forget to take a little break, because I don’t want to stop taking photos. Since it’s winter time, I can’t take my love for photography too far—I have to stop or the model will turn blue. But after a coffee, we continue with the photo shoot very soon. I frequently work with people who like photography as I do, so that these long hours of shooting are not a big deal. It’s a real pleasure working with creative people, because they enjoy it as much as I do.

4 P.M. Shoot continues in a different location, and an outfit change for the model.

5 P.M. During the summer, I can shoot until 7 o’clock in the evening. My camera and I love that golden hour. But since it’s winter right now, it’s time to head home. Whether I walk home or take a tram, I already immediately begin looking the images I’ve taken on my camera. I start to pick some favorites and begin retouching them on the way home.

6 P.M. I’m home! I sit down by my computer immediately. I can’t wait to copy my photos to my hard drive! I jump around because I’m too impatient to wait. Because I work as a retoucher, I don’t know what I love more—photography or retouching. Maybe I love them both equally.

7 P.M. The retouching process begins. I put my favorite Wacom tablet in front of me, take the pen in my hand, and start working. When I have the entire day free for taking photos and retouching, I sometimes forget to eat or drink. I often find myself eating once late in the evening, just to take a break from editing all those photos.

8 P.M. I keep editing.

9 P.M. Editing some more photos, while the rest are being published on 500px and my Facebook page.

10 P.M. Maybe I could edit this one too.

11 P.M. Wow, I did not see this one. Never mind, I will edit this one too.

12 A.M. I have to go to work tomorrow? It’s okay, it’s only 12 midnight. Still too early for me. No big deal.

1 A.M. I love these quiet hours after midnight. During this time, my creative mode is on, and I get more ideas. I work and study at night. Night is my favorite part of the day!

2 A.M. I have edited about 15 photos. I yawn from time to time, but I continue to stay in front of my computer. I keep retouching until 4 or 5 A.M. When I feel my eyes hurting and fogging up, I turn off my computer.

All in a day’s work for Maja! We hope reading about her day and some of her tips have inspired your own portraiture work, whether you’re shooting from the street or in a studio. Want to see more of her stunning portraits? Scroll down!

To see more of her striking photos, follow her on 500px. You can also visit her official website, or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Got questions for Maja about her images, techniques, and process? Leave a comment below!

Check back next week for a new installment of A Day In The Life featuring another awesome 500px photographer.