My vision of Maltese photography has always been to constantly expand beyond our shores. In the past years, this vision has become much more doable, due to technology such as internet, digital photography, Skype coupled with the facility and relatively lower price and frequency of air travel. These circumstances have been ideal in empowering me to visit different places and societies in order to teach photography. If there is an international art medium which ideally places the practitioner in contact with other artists, surely this is photography.
I recently had the pleasure to run my Fast Track photography course in Lithuania – an opportunity not only to work in the sphere I enjoy most, but to also learn and challenge myself from the different perspective of my talented foreign students. The intensive three day course covered aspects of studio, street, low light and fashion photography as well as post processing and photographic concept generation. The hospitality I was shown was second to none, and this made the experience so much more enjoyable.
The Lithuanian weather, although in summer, was a challenge as on the first day the temperature went down to 12 degrees – and there I was with no jackets and only short sleeves! It was indeed a challenge to start off the course with a low light workshop in the business centre of Vilnius accompanied by a steady sprinkling of rain! Here, my experience in London weather during the yearly Societies convention came in handy. Both myself and the students rose to the challenge and we still managed to produce some useful images in rather adverse conditions. The next day, we spent the day inside a very well equipped commercial studio in an industrial area of Vilnius. I had the luxury to work with all the necessary equipment needed in a studio and also with two delightful girls from Vilnius, Olga and Jurate, who patiently modeled for me throughout the workshops. The industrial area, complete with an old railway track, made an ideal venue for location photography when it stopped raining and temperatures went significantly up. I made sure to base my course on hands on practice, giving the participants a lot to do throughout the three days and naturally ended the sessions with a ‘no holds barred’ assessment of their work. The workshops were possible thanks to the help of my Lithuanian contact, friend and photographer, Renata Apanaviciene who, together with her husband Darius, went out of their way not only to organize the course, but also to make my stay as pleasant and varied as possible.
As always, when abroad, the MIPP is still very much in my mind, and through the help of Valdas Bogdanos, the Fuji regional manager for East Europe, I managed to make contact with the Chairman of the Lithuanian Photographers Association, the hard working Jonas Staselis. It was a really pleasant and fruitful meeting as the Association is more or less the same size as our MIPP one, thus a lot of common ground is shared. Yet, hearing how other people manage their Association, is always a fount of information and stimulates fresh ideas. The Association runs its own little premises and gallery in Vilnius – although it is not their property, the place is given to them by the local government and they run it through a council. The authorities also give the Association some funding which enables them to not only manage the day to day running, but also print some beautiful photography books as well as organize a very important international photographic convention every year. Their grant is nothing great and it’s still not easy, but much more than we ever got from our governments – I wonder when local authorities will ever wake up and treat us photographers in the same way as other entities – maybe the time is ripe for a petition!!
I have come back from Lithuania refreshed, enthusiastic and greatly enriched with the friendship of many people I met over there. I will surely be visiting Lithuania again and, why not, look forward to collaborating with the Lithuanian Photographers Association in the near future.
© Kevin Casha – july 2014