Joco Žnidaršič, an award-winning Slovenian photographer who was photo editor at the newspaper Delo for 24 years until his retirement in 1998, died on 28 November aged 84.
His iconic photographs include that of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, during a visit to Ljubljana in 1988, of pro-democracy protesters gathered in snow in the square in front of Slovenia’s parliament building in November 1988, Slovenians celebrating the declaration of independence in 1991, or the photo of President Milan Kučan absorbed in thought at that challenging time.
Among many other awards, he won the World Press Photo prize in 1976 for his dramatic photo story about a guide rescuing a horse in the mountains. Until 2016 he was the only Slovenian photographer to win this award.
In 2009, he received the Golden Order of Service from President Danilo Türk for lifetime achievement in photography and for his major contribution to making Slovenia better known in the world.
In 2017, he received the Order of Service from President Borut Pahor as one of the authors of the Slovenia, My Country campaign in the mid 1980s.
The campaign was commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote Slovenia as a tourist destination, but assumed a broader significance as it helped build the country’s modern identity and confidence just before it gained independence.
Two weeks before the country declared independence, Žnidaršič gave an initiative for a trip to Mt Triglav to raise the Slovenian flag on top of Slovenia’s highest mountain because he needed a photo for Delo’s front-page.