Terracotta hapiness – A photographic documentary series


Študent: Luka Hernet

Luka Hernet is a graduate of the Media Production study programme at Academia, College of Short-Cycle Higher Education. He successfully defended his thesis paper in April 2024.


Diploma paper Luka Hernet

With my diploma thesis, I delved into my favorite genre of photography – documentary photography.

In the assignment, I first focus on the history and theory of this genre only. I present the first important documentarians, without whom modern documentary photography would never exist. I have by no means forgotten the works of great Slovenian documentarians such as Stojan Kerbler, Ivan Dvoršak and others.

Throughout the assignment, I repeatedly analyze the works and stories of photographers who inspire me. The questions are important questions in the chapters like: Can photography itself be kitsch? What are the foundations or goals of documentary photography? Does documentary photography have moral boundaries and ethics? What separates documentary photography from reportage photography?

After the so-called ‘theoretical part’ of the assignment, I present my opus, a documentary series entitled ‘Terakotna sreča’ or ‘Terracotta Happiness’, which was inspired by garden gnomes.

One would immediately wonder, why am I at this topic or series. What is there to document? I interpret the series as a confession of people who own garden gnomes, not so much about the gnomes themselves, because it is about the entire culture of just them.

The theme has not been explored until now and people are not talking about it. I describe my travels, feelings and findings about the series. Next to the photos, I explain my story and the stories of others who surrounded me. The series is a personal confession and the confession of local people.

Next to the garden dwarfs, I managed to capture the environment that is built around them. At the same time, I managed to create a project that I am very attached to and that means a lot to me. The project gave me new hope and motivation for photography.

On the one hand, the series also gave me confidence in photography and a strong connection with my family that I will never forget.

As a result, my search for answers to the theme of garden dwarfs has created the end result, which is a documentary photographic work or series that is emotionally charged, shrinkable and interesting. I also intend to continue with the work.

A snapshot of the student’s photography collection can be found at the link below:

Diploma paper Luka Hernet


Diploma paper Luka Hernet

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