Photographer Gertruda Varnaite Interview
A great relationship is not enough when it comes to working together since the main goal is to make the end result the best possible.
Describe your perfect day.
A lot of sleep, coffee and breakfast in bed with sunshine followed by an exiting shoot. At lunch break going for a ride with my horse, finishing the shoot with amazing results, flying to Italy to join my man for a late night dinner. It makes me sound Italian but who can say no to good wine, good food, heart melting weather and atmosphere – dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). At last, coming home and knowing I’ll be flying to New York the following day for work. And I would love to hear music playing throughout all day, as in movies there’s always sound illustrating the action.
What is your current obsession and why?
Regarding this topic I have to admit I’m a very obsessed person—work has been my perpetual every day obsession but additional current ones [are]: learning piano, composer Alexandre Desplat and his compositions together with piano soloist Lang Lang, traditional Chinese music, analysing Paolo Roversi works and watching too many documentaries about extraordinary creative artists.
What attracted you to fashion first?
Creativity and unrestraint. It will never stop to amaze me there’s a possibility, a chance to change the look at certain things, to create an icon. As a fashion photographer you find yourself on a clean empty platform with too many to count opportunities and ideas of how to present the content. It’s absolutely mind blowing! As Coco Chanel said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Fashion is a very strong, depended industry but it still contains this overwhelming diversity of visual presentation and its perception—for me it’s the main attraction.
How do you go about picking your team for a shoot?
A team is an essential part of a successful project. To be honest, when I was younger I thought that being a multitasking superwoman is better but I moved on from my ego, well at least a little bit to this point. Of course, first comes the professional level of individuals. A great relationship is not enough when it comes to working together since the main goal is to make the end result the best possible. I’m quite straight forward and strict about this. But of course, second part of picking the team is an emotional environment. We have to understand and to trust each other on the decisions, be able to compromise and definitely be at ease with one another. To complete the regular working team is quite difficult though it has amazing benefits that really make work easier. All the symphonic harmony brings you to the final score.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on set?
Too many to count. When I was eighteen I was commissioned to photograph a music band in my apartment’s kitchen. Of course, they arrived together with the magazine editor. At the same second, I realised I forgot to charge my camera and forgot to retrieve a memory card from my colleague. The embarrassing part was to stall the team for more than an hour until I sorted out the equipment without letting them know.
What are certain things that you feel like you need to work on?
I’m very critical of my own work and I think there’s more than one certain thing to work on. It’s a constant learning throughout the time, in my opinion there’s no definite time to be completely satisfied on your achievements.
My partner is a director of photography and a genius of lighting the set. He taught me a great number of things and it’s still an area which I want to focus as much as possible. Light is a final touch that shapes the image and it’s aesthetics, defines the mood and reveals what needs to be revealed.
If you could do a collaboration with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Alexander McQueen. He managed to create this unique, transcendent second world in already an exceptional diverse world of fashion. The acknowledgement of his perceived meaning of beauty is undeniable. Although McQueen is one of the biggest fashion brands, it still seems to me that he himself was a little bit above it all. I mean all the publicity essentials that comes with this kind of work—cat walks, editorials, commercials—was taken a level up, pushed a little more from the ‘classic safety edge’.
For me it’s one of the most important, maybe even crucial points in fashion, fashion photography—a signature. And to collaborate with an artist with A SIGNATURE would be absolutely overwhelming.
What separates you from others in your field?
I could talk about my perception of me as an original style photographer but I think it’s best when people separate and detach you from the mass themselves. When this happens, you know you really do have a signature. For the time being though, I detected my strong intention of heavy shadows and focus on editorial posing, the planimetry of the body. As well, yesterday a friend of mine mentioned the ‘strange cropping philosophy’ I follow.
As artists, we are constantly learning. What advice do you have for beginners?
Never stop learning because it never ends. Don’t forget to take on the inspirations coming from the most unexpected places and people.
And remember, art is also a business and it’s an art to keep the balance between both.
What is your life motto?
I’m not entirely sure I have one. I think there’s too many to keep the steady focus. It’s all about combining and finding fresh mottos to inspire yourself on and on.
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