Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am a fine art photographer with the main focus on landscape, urban, street, as well as, event and travel photography.
I was born in Klaipeda, Lithuania, a beautiful city, on the Baltic Sea coast. When I was a child, I saved for almost a year to buy a camera, which was a very rare and expensive thing to acquire at that time for a kid. I was developing my black-and-white negatives in a bathroom and printed photographs in my room at night. Since then, I started to take photographs every time I was looking through the viewfinder of the camera, and it became my habit that I have till now.
In 2006, I moved to Dublin, Ireland. In the same year, I bought my first semi-professional digital camera. I used all my extra money to go on trips around the city, eventually even to different countries. I was always mesmerized and attracted to all the foreign and cultural places I read about in the books or saw on TV, but never could visit. And, after working in fashion and tailoring industry for over twenty years, I began pursuing photography professionally.
Photography has always been and is an extremely important part of my life. I cannot imagine my life without it.
Where did you get your photographic training?
With my first camera Smena, I started my endless journeys into the darkroom where I experimented by guessing what was written on the darkroom chemical packages. This process always amazed me, and I never stopped experimenting.
Learning from the images of the master photographers and visual artists I built my first knowledge about photography as a science and art. Later, I completed an Introduction to Photography course at DIT in 2011, a yearlong Photography Portfolio Preparation course at Marino College of Further Education in 2014, and this year I completed BA Hons Photography at IADT.
I became seriously interested in photography about 15 years ago, but my first touch with photography dates back to my childhood.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
The infuence of Jan Saudek, who tought me that photography medium is very suitable for all kinds of creative ideas and experiments; Josef Koudelka’s photographic studies of the Gypsies of Slovakia and Romania; Saul Leiter’s experimental photography in color; a psychological and existential black and white images of Roger Ballen; Antanas Sutkus photographs of the changing life and people of Lithuania; Sebastião Salgado photographic projects, and many others.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
Josef Koudelka photograph ‘The Urge to See’ taken in Czechoslovakia, August 1968, when the Soviet troops invaded Prague. This image captures the significant moment of history, and provides visual evidence of the time. A hand watch in this photograph has a very symbolic meaning to me; it demonstrates the frozen time, like all photographs actually do.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
The importance of light and focus on details are the most significant aspects in photography. The project “Bus Passengersz” taught me these significant lessons.
Every day, traveling to the college and back, took me more than three hours. To beat boredom, I started to observe people on a bus. Different day – different moods and emotions: a sleepy man early in the morning, a tired women in the evening or night, a lonely passenger, friends, young and old ones – they are different but the same. Then I start taking photographs of people, patiently waiting for the right light, angle, composition and emotion while I was traveling on the bus. Since then I started to see more details and ‘trained my eye’.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
The good day could be any regular day, it depends if the light is great, the scenario of a street or landscape is dynamic or still. When I am walking to some places, then is it possible to capture a moment or two. The good day is when I can catch a good moment with my camera.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
It would be Salvador Dali. Dali was the most famous and successull Surrealist artist. His bright personality and role of mischievous provocateur played as much as his undeniable technical virtuosity. I like his avant-garde technique of montage where he systematized confusion and totally discredited the world of reality.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
I use analog cameras, digital SLR camera or mobile phone, it depends on what type of project I do. However, I always prefer the analog photography for my personal work. I am always waiting for that wonderful feeling when after my trips I am ready to “soak up” the negatives into the developer and look at what was interesting ‘caught’ and recorded on the films. This process is still magical to me.
I have a few analog cameras, and a professional digital camera for commercial work. For posting on Instagram and Facebook I use a mobile phone. The mobile phone has become my main camera on my daily journeys. But when I am going to my expeditions, I always take my beloved Holga with me (maybe it reminds my first camera Smena).
What’s hangs on your walls?
On my walls hang a couple lovely paintings, Intaglio etchings, some random photographs, and some of my experimental pieces which I use as sketches.
What’s on the horizon?
Every year I am going on long hiking expeditions. Hiking and backpacking has become a passion of mine over the years. It encouraged a desire to feel connected to the earth. This year I am going to the Pyrenees for a 360 kilometers hike through the mountains.
While working on the project “Equilibrium”, I faced major current environmental problems. Every year, I see what dramatic changes take place on the global scale. The climate change, the quality of the natural environment, including water, air, soil, flora and fauna are under pressure. Consumerism is destroying our environment. I want to show all this in my own way, documenting and shooting city life, nature, or maybe trying something new.
Next year I am planning to have a solo exhibition, along with the different projects I am working on.
Thank you Gintaras. To learn more about the work of Gintaras Varnagys please click on his name.