May 7, 2009

Lietuvos Respublika

Vytautas the Great, under his reign Lithuania reached zenith of power (17th century painting)

Below is copy of a fun (albeit long) interview I recently did for a Photography School in Lithuania...

Why do you need photography? And do you need it at all?

I believe photography is my version of a diary. Some people need to write in their journals daily to track events in their life. I can't write very well, so I use the camera instead.

Probably all of your cinematics are some kind of self-portraits, right? Why have you chosen yourself as a character? Is it because the model is always there where you need him to be, or just because of the possibility to show the atmosphere and all other stuff in the pic exactly the way you see or feel it? Or maybe you‘ve always wanted a life full of tention, action and curiosities?

Yes, all of my images (including the newest femme vérite) are self portrait. There are numerous reasons for this. One is accessibility to the model. I never have to schedule anything with myself or pay myself to model. Another reason is that the narratives are very personal and close to me, so I would know the best pose or feeling for the role.

Is risk and risking familiar to you? Are you the person who likes getting seriously mixed up in something?

Artistically I enjoy taking risks. I don't listen to the crowd or critics when producing new work. I shoot what I want and how I want. I like the rewards that can come from risk. Outside of art, I am not much of a risk taker. I was when I was younger, but not much anymore.

If you had to tell only ONE story about yourself, and it should totally represent you and your essence, WHAT story would it be?

Wow, that's tough. I'm only 31 years old, but I feel I've lived so many different lives thus far, that my essence has changed a dozen times. So that might be impossible? I can tell one story about a photo of mine that might represent the series as a whole... My image a decisive moment (with body on the tracks and legs of other person walking away) is a good example of how my images are sometimes misinterprated. Not that I mind that, everyone has their own interprations of an image. People look at that image and see a tragic, perhaps grotesque narrative of murder or mayhem. In fact, depending on how you look at it, the true story behind that images is quite humorous. When I was 15, I was drinking wine by the railroad tracks with my friends. It was a hot summer day and I passed out from too much wine and sun and my friends just left me there. The railroad was not a functioning railway, so there was no fear of getting run over or it might have not been funny.

Most of your cinematics and their atmosphere are dark. Even the names of the series shout there‘s darkness all over the place. ϑ Why darkness? And why so much of it?

My images (dark, even darker, and winter) are part autobiographical and part fictional. It's no secret that my youth had it's share of darkness and trouble. I grew up in a tough, gritty neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So most of the images from those series come from stories like the railroad track story that happened there. I am also influenced by TV, Film, and general american culture, a lot of which involves the darker side of life. But who knows, maybe in 5 years, I'll be showing bright cheery images of my happy memories?

Only in the femme vérité series the atmosphere gets a bit lighter, something changes, and another important thing – a woman shows up. Why now? Is it somehow related to some point in your life, where women play a very important role?Maybe it‘s some kind of a symbol?

Femme Vérite comes along now that I've ran through tons of narratives in my memory from childhood and youth. The next portion of my life started to involve women. Moving out and living with them, learning from them, inspiration from them, and more. It's only a bit lighter because at certain times, women have also caused chaos, trouble, and sadness in my life. Again I play the main character, but this time with nicer looking legs. ;)

Exhibitions, solo and group shows, you‘re a recognized talent, award-winning photographer. But it doesn‘t look like you‘re looking too seriously to all this, you‘re not cocky or pompous. What helps you stay so simple and easy going?

Who say's I'm not cocky? I'm cocky! Haha! Well, not really. I don't understand some photographers that gain a little noteriety and then become cocky? We are photographers, not Hollywood Actors. Nobody outside of photography would know our names, but would know Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. So I guess I just don't see any reason to be cocky.

hill of crosses, Lithuania

There are not so many images posted on your website, but the ones you show there look totally finished, polished and CINEMATIC. Are you photographing so tediously, so thoroughly, or you simply manage to pick the best from your work?

I try to alternate the images on my site every once in a while. Keep it fresh or to share new work with returning visitors. I will keep 3-4 of my favorites on there permanently, but the rest change every 2 months or so.

Some works contain very bold, intriguing, and sometimes drastic details. You like provoking? And are you easily giving away to provocations?

I don't always plan my shots. A lot of my narratives come from gut reaction on scene. I just let the setting guide me into a mood and things just happen. Sometimes what happens is very provocative, sometimes it's not. Just depends on my mood.

What‘s the most frequent thing in your every-day life? And what‘s your daily routine?

I'm a family guy with a four year old son, a loving wife, and a 14 year old step-son. And believe it or not, I have a day job from 9am-5pm. As much as I might like to think selling $1800 photographs will pay my bills monthly, it's not a real option. I tend to shoot on weekends or during my lunch breaks.

There are intervals in music, dots in literature, and what is silence, a pause in photography? What could it be?

Music is continuous and reading is continuous, but photography is still and silent. I think the stillness in a photograph should cause the viewer's mind to continuously think and make their own judgements instead of being guided along as it is in music or reading. At least that's what I like to give the viewer. A stillness in time that makes them wonder what happened or what will happen.

Is there a thing you know about photography that our students might not know? Maybe it could help them to develop as photographers?

Perhaps I may have something of interest? It involves seeing things clearer and trying to see things differently. Someone once explained trying to find a good photograph with this great comment... Drive a car one mile from your house. Now go back and this time you be the passenger and let someone else drive the route. You will be surprised what you missed while you were driving. Now take it further, walk that same mile, now see what you really missed, you will probably run out of space on your memory card.

And your last, but not the least word to our readers, our students.

I would say to let your imagination run wild, don't worry about rules or what is considered good or what is considered bad. Those things may influence or inspire you, but they should not guide the way you truly feel and see things.

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