Monday 16 September 2019

Designing a creative life together

Award-winning photographer Peter Gordon and his Croatian wife Daki Rezic give each other space to create

Photographer Peter Gordon is married to designer Daki Rezic. Photo: Mark Condren
Photographer Peter Gordon is married to designer Daki Rezic. Photo: Mark Condren

Andrea Smith

Daki Rezic (39) met Peter Gordon (37) in 2002 in a bar on Thomas Street, and teased him that he wouldn't remember her name in five minutes. Perhaps because her real name is Zdravka, he lost the bet and the forfeit was that he bought her a White Russian drink. "I liked her smile and dark skin and hair and thought she was gorgeous," he says. "I was gobsmacked when I first saw her. She seemed to think I was funny and laughed at my jokes, although most people don't."

Daki, then 22, had just arrived in Ireland from Zagreb, Croatia, to visit friends, who were also friends of Peter. After their first meeting, he popped up suspiciously frequently at social gatherings - despite living on the opposite side of the city. His persistence paid off and he and Daki started dating in 2003.

Students can choose a vocation in secondary school in Croatia. Daki chose midwifery training at 14, and then did occupational therapy at college. She came here with no real plan after she graduated, but started working in a nursing home and continued dating Peter. They had loads of fun, they say, and partied a lot and travelled. "Peter has a great smile and he is very kind, thoughtful and caring," says Daki.

The partying slowed down a little when their daughter Mia came along. She is now 10 and the couple also have a son, Matias (seven). Daki speaks only Croatian to them, and while Peter doesn't speak the language, most of the time he can tell what is being said when it's day-to-day stuff. "If we have a more meaningful conversation, we have it in English," he says.

He and Daki were married in Dubrovnik in 2012, and Daki's family, including her parents, Katija and Zdravko, and older sister Nena were there. A contingent came from Dublin as well, as Peter grew up in Shankill. He, Daki and the children now live in Booterstown. Peter lived with his mum Teresa as his parents separated when he was four. His dad Edward lived in the UK for some time and Peter now has a younger sister Emily there. His dad, also a skilled photographer, now lives in Greece, and Peter very much regards him as his photography mentor.

After completing history and politics and a master's in international relations, Peter's photography hobby took hold when he went travelling. He specialises in landscape photography and his images are visually stunning. He decided to make a career of it with his dad and they set up a company called ExploreLight to sell prints of his work. It has developed into Peter leading photography tours and workshops all over the world, and he is fully booked for international tours for 2019. The company has other tours running as well.

"Daki is the rock that keeps the family together, especially when I'm off working too much," says Peter. "We have a very similar outlook on life, and we give each other space, which is great because I think that sometimes people can try to control one another in relationships. We are allowed to be individuals in terms of what we want to do creatively in life, and we always come back to one another and are very united."

What drives Daki mad is that Peter can be forgetful and messy, and he says that's one of the cultural differences. "It's her Croatian upbringing," he laughs. "They're very tidy. One thing that we argued about at first was Christmas, because we splurge way more financially than they do there. It's much more low-key in Croatia, so what to spend on presents caused a few arguments."

Daki says that she is also hyper-conscious of consumerism and the ecological impact of it all, and explains that Easter is more fun in Croatia than here. They spend that holiday there and Christmas here. While she didn't initially plan to make her home here, she has settled in very well and loves Peter's family and the friends she has made. "Peter's mum has been really helpful around the children," she says.

Daki was always creative and loved making things, and she began making statement jewellery when the children went to bed. Peter encouraged her to try to do something more with it and Daki Daki Design (dakidakidesign.com) was born in 2016. Daki began teaching herself through tutorials and makes colourful handmade accessories like headbands, jewellery and bum bags. Peter helped her to launch her website and looked after the photography. She mostly sells online and in some shops and markets. Peter says she doesn't realise how talented she is.

He's pretty talented too, having won the IPPA Irish Pictorial Photographer of the Year in 2016 and 2017, Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2015 and 2018 and FEP European Photographer of the Year in 2013. He has also just released his third book, Dublin Salt, about the sea around Dublin. Peter searched for the perfect light and the right tide and conditions to make a collection of special Dublin sea landscapes. The book contains 50 images and aims to bridge the gap between a coffee table book and a genuine piece of art that can be viewed and enjoyed for many years to come.

"I've always lived beside the sea and it has always resonated with me," he says. "There is something about the air, the smell and the taste. It gets in your bones and it invigorates you."

'Dublin Salt' (€35) and prints are available from www.petergordonphoto graphy.com www.explorelight.com

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