HEART AND SOUL
IN CONVERSATION WITH SOFIA SITNIKIENE
For Sofia Sitnikiene, photography is her choice of medium to express her artistic vision for documenting life as it unfolds to create images that matter. She is a visual artist who experiments with light, texture and tone, to create photographs that speak to the mind, heart and soul.
“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
David Alan Harvey
When did you start getting interested in photography?
I started getting interested in photography when I traveled to Poland in 2007, it was an important trip and something that I wanted to do since I was a child. I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and felt the need to document my journey, history has always fascinated me and I believe that it is important to understand it. I had also taken a film photography course when I studied graphic design in 1998. My mother was an artist and hobbyist photographer so I guess that this had a lot to do with my choices in life.
Where do you find your inspiration?
From music, a good movie, a book, nature, my children and most importantly from emotions. I am a sensitive person, an empath and an introvert, this can be hard sometimes. Photography has a deeply spiritual aspect, going out to shoot can be uplifting.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers?
Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Robert Frank, Steve McCurry, Vivian Maier, Alan Schaller, Meg Loeks, Jyo Bhamidipati, Julia Anna Gospodarou, Joel Tjintjelaar. There are so many photographers that have inspired me throughout my journey it would be hard to mention them all.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
Yes, when I started, I shot portraits of my children and documented all of our trips abroad. Later I focused on learning how to capture images that told stories, how to read and understand light and how to shoot in manual mode. Learning manual mode changed everything for me.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
In my home, a park when there’s good weather, the streets of London. I also love to travel abroad.
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
I think it helps but it’s not the most important thing as you can take a great image with your mobile phone or even with an old film camera. I still use my mother’s Canon A-E1 when I have the time. It’s about thinking, observing, understanding and practicing. There is always something new to learn, never stop learning.
What characteristics do you think you need to become a photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
I think you have to love it and be passionate about it. I would say first learn how to use your camera, learn how to shoot in manual mode, understand how focal length affects the aesthetic of an image; after learn how to compose correctly, how to read light, how to observe the world around you, how to capture emotions, all of the small details; later you can learn how to edit in Lightroom, Photoshop or any other program that you feel comfortable with.
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
I was a graphic designer and illustrator for many years.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Today I’m working on a series of images that capture the streets of London. It’s something that has always interested me, they are all in black and white. I am going to do a street photography workshop soon.
If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
I would be painting and drawing."