Today we are please to share the work of Emilija Petrauskienė, Emilija was chosen as one of the 2019 Rfotofolio Selections.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in 1981. I am living in Lithuania, Vilnius. I have finished medical school and am now working as a full time family doctor. From childhood I have been always around arts, crafts and gardening. I love making beautiful things, but have never had any special training, so this has been only a hobby.
Where did you get your photographic training?
My interest in photography started in very usual and cliche way. When my first child was born I got a present from my husband – a new fancy DSLR with some lenses. And he encouraged me to learn some photography basics. I Joined a community on social media and started learning. I am really thankful to the group of people with whom we traveled this “learning how to shoot” way. Soon after learning all the basics I switched to analogue, as having the film in hand and seeing the image there was the thing I preferred more than pixels on the computer. I hate post-processing, as you don’t know when to stop improving the image. Then I had a course in fine art photography with G. Trimakas – one of greatest masters of fine art photography in Lithuania. I call him my teacher.
Why do you create?
This is my way of mindfulness. I am always trying to escape into beauty in my head and try to express it in many ways around me – my home, garden design, beautiful pictures, flowers in a vase or smile on my lips. This is I think a kind of defense after full time working as a physician. I get too much of pain, complaints, sadness, anxiety in my everyday, so creating kind of “pink world” around me to relax there. I am aware that this is kind of a naive way of thinking, but this makes my mind sane. Actually I think we all need to have more beauty and positive thinking around us. It makes us all more healthy, not only our minds, but body also.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
I am always inspired by 15th and 16th century Flemish painters, old scientific herbaria in lithographs, postwar Scandinavian designers, especially painter and illustrator Stig Linberg, “classic” fine art photographers like Karl Blossfeldt, Joan Fontcuberta, Sally Mann, Irving Penn, Jan Bulhak and plenty of others.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
I think it would be Joan Fontcuberta “Herbarium” series. I can’t choose one picture.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
It is a very difficult question. Maybe it would be the simple landscape image from Italy. At the first course by master G. Trimakas, he asked the participants to show their portfolios. At that time I was already pretty good at composition and other technical stuff, shooting on film with Mamiya TRL camera, so pretty “proud of myself”. But while looking through my pictures the master seemed not interested at all – sunsets, spiderwebs, dewy meadows, family snapshots.. But at the one photograph he stopped and said that “this one is nice, I like monochrome pictures”, though it was shot on colour film. That picture seemed nothing special for me – dull and colour less. Much later I understood the meaning. This is about the different moment you try to show, about the mood. Copycat cliche postcards don’t show the mood. And that photograph seemed to have the mood.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
It would be if I made 3 or 4 good plates. When I start my day with a mistake and thrown away a plate I usually know that I should stop at the moment. If I try to fix the mistake, then more and more plates go to the trash. There are “bad” and “good” days.
Please tell us about the work you submitted for the Rfotofolio Call.
The work I submitted is from my ongoing and the key series “Silver Garden”. This series is my recreation of a childhood garden on wet-plate. Like a herbarium, but in a photographic way. I have a long list of plants who have to be in my Silver Garden – herbs, vegetables, flowers, weeds, trees, etc.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
It would be Sally Mann.
How important is the photographic community to you?
As I have learned all the basics of photography and got many lessons, encouragements, criticism, feedbacks from photographic community, so I think it is very important. I would not be at this point making my wetplates if I haven’t been into any.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
A darkroom with running water. The place at home to store the chemicals, a space to make the wetplates and then prints is the thing I am always thankful for.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
Some alternative prints. Platinum/palladium especially.
Whats on the horizon?
I have no longterm plans as photography is my free time relaxation. Working slowly with my “Silver Garden”. Still plenty plants have to be lain down on wetplate – I think 10 years won’t be enough for that as the process is very slow. But besides “Silver Garden” come other series, short ones. And my garden outside the window should be improved. Still not happy with it’s design. Photography and gardening goes always together for me.
To learn more about the work of Emilija Petrauskienė please visit her site by clicking on her name.