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Andrejs Grants. Photo: Arnis Balčus

The cameraman Gints Bērziņš once revealed to me that this is a coastal phenomenon, because the surface of the sea is like a mirror: on a sunny day the light is reflected into the sky and the clouds work as reflectors, thereby creating the expansive light that you’ll find only in coastal regions. In any event, I’m more interested in the countryside than in the city. I spent my entire childhood and early youth, up until the time I graduated from high school, in the country town of Madona, so it’s more natural for me that actors work on a provincial stage.

Do you go on special photo excursions?

In very rare cases these happen to fall among my other duties. But the most successful solution is simply to go. I usually don’t have a goal—I go and take pictures of this and that; I like changing my direction and viewing my trip as a happening. This is the essential condition for something to work out, because planning beforehand isn’t productive.

Is there a different between taking pictures at home and abroad?

A little bit. When abroad, particularly if it’s further away from our own cultural milieu, the exotic “veils your eyes.” But as soon as you free yourself from this exoticism, then you essentially discover that you take pictures of precisely the same thing and in the same way as you do at home. That’s the most interesting thing!

One of your collections is entitled Colleagues, Friends, Acquaintances. Do you know how to take pictures of strangers, too? 

I rarely take pictures of people I just met. For the most part they are people about whom I have formed a certain preconception, and this really makes things easier. It’s interesting for me to show them in their own rules of the game. And whether I like it or not, I show myself, too, through them. I like this teamwork.

Do you follow contemporary trends in photography?

I don’t know how actively, but I try. If only because I work with young people, and they often want to enter the environment only through the modern day. I don’t think they’d understand if I made them listen to Bach! Yet it’s important for a teacher to see in contemporary authors the essential elements—you might even say the timeless elements— given to them by previous generations. If a contemporary work doesn’t contain these central issues, then contemporariness will only be an external form. I try to direct their attention toward authors who have this potential.

What has left a strong impression on you? 

I like works from which an impressions arises without being pushy. For example, Aleks Sots. He’s a strong artist—he speaks in a contemporary way, and is deeply based in tradition.

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