Far in the land marked by ice and fire, where the Aurora shines brightly over her kingdom, a very special human being lives. With an open heart and an open mind as well as an extraordinary sense of beauty, Kristina Petrošiute conjures up magnificent photographs. The lighthouse her symbol, the Icelandic landscape her home, she continually amazes us with the power of her photos that are saturated with emotions.
Lighthouse Keeperess – like a beacon in the digital world, she draws our attention to the joys of analogue and shows us the beauty of Iceland with her magnificent works. And we’re lucky enough to have the chance to find out what makes her photographs so special and what inspires her most.
Your very original name and your recent works have one thing in common – a lighthouse. What’s the reason behind that?
For as long as I remember, I always had a strong affection for lighthouses. There are more than one hundred lighthouses in Iceland. I have visited half of them. Every time I travel to another country, the first thing I do I visit a lighthouse there.
The name Lighthouse Keeperess was born after my husband went to a one-week trip in a fishing boat. One day, the weather got really bad and the ship went missing. I was going crazy with worry. That day, I had a tattoo of a little lighthouse done on my wrist as a symbol to keep him safe and sound and always lead him home to me.
When did you decide on photography as your professional path? Was there an exact moment or was it deliberate, conscious decision?
It happened 2 years ago when one of my closest friends entered photography school in Sweden. That made me think and helped me realize what I really wanted out of my life. There were two choices – music or photography. Photography became my profession and piano is my hobby.
What was/is your biggest struggle in this profession?
I think it’s the lack of time. I am studying full time, working in After-School Center, working on my own projects and of course, for clients. Sometimes it gets really hectic.
Which camera and film combination gives you the best feeling?
I don’t have a special combination. Most of the time, I use Nikon F4 and Mamiya 645 with Ilford HP5 Plus or Fujifilm Superia. Films are very expensive here in Iceland so I can’t allow myself to be picky.
How do you prepare for a photo shoot? Do you research and pick a special place to shoot at before you go there with your cameras?
It depends. If we are talking about work for a client, I plan almost everything. I draw sketches, check locations, think of lighting, and other stuff. When it comes to my personal work, I usually take my cameras and films and hit the road and work more intuitively. There are still several things I do before the trip – I always check weather forecast and road conditions. Iceland can be little bit rough sometimes.
You focus a lot in capturing the beautiful landscapes around you. What do they mean to you?
Only in nature do I feel focused, happy, and fulfilled and I try to transmit these feelings through my landscape photographs.
How different are your approaches to studio photography and to landscape photography?
Usually in studio I use digital camera, but for landscapes I use only film. I always prefer working outside with natural light. Studio lights irritate me, but some of my work needs to be done in studio with artificial lighting.
Iceland has a very interesting cultural movement. Is your photography influenced by other art forms such as music or graphics?
I love Icelandic music. It inspires me a lot. I definitely recommend listening to bands like Samaris, Úlfur, or Yagya. Their music makes me calmer and happier.
If you didn’t live in Iceland and if you were not doing photography, what would you be doing instead?
Oh dear… this is difficult… I guess I would still be living in Lithuania and working in computer services as I was doing 7 years ago.
In your opinion, do you think the analogue photography will survive the digital epoch?
How will it evolve?
Of course it will. At least black and white. No one is asking if oil painting or hot air balloons are going to survive. In my opinion, digital can’t replace analogue. They are too different. We need them both.
We’ve realised you are a nomadic soul, as many of us here at Whattaroll. Do you think that aspect of your personality helps define your personal style as photographer? Do you approach photography in a different way when you are away?
I spend 3 months out of 12 abroad, but don’t feel like taking photos while traveling at all. I mean I do take them, but it isn’t as exciting as working in Iceland. I hope one day I’ll find the way to change it.
Since the theme of this issue is the concept of Twisted, could you share with us the most fantastical or surreal photo shoot you’ve ever had?
I think the most surreal moments happened while I was working on Fisherman’s Wife. I got pneumonia because of the cold while shooting the first images of this mini-series. The deadline was short so I had to shoot the rest while I was really sick and had a high temperature. I was missing the last photo with a lighthouse, so we walked for an hour through lava fields until we reached it. I think it was the longest trip I’ve ever had. After all the photoshoots, I still had to work in the darkroom and enlarge the pictures. Being alone for 14 hours in the dark with high temperature was quite a challenge. It took me a month to recover. I am happy with the results; but process, which included moving lava fields, monsters in the dark and time holes, is still quite mysterious to me.
Tell us a bit about your future plans. Any upcoming project or exhibition?
Now I am working on a project called “Solaris”, which was inspired by my favorite USSR film “Solaris” (directed by Andrej Tarkovsky) and the magnificent landscapes of Iceland. I am planning on having a show in the end of spring. Also, I am doing some work for designer Særós Mist and Reykjavik City. The project commissioned by the city of Reykjavik is going to be exhibited in April.
One of my photographs from series “Biography” won the Life Framer’s Competition and it is going to be exhibited in London and Switzerland this spring.
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Kristina Petrošiute is a portrait and landscape film photographer based in
Reykjavik, Iceland. See her dreamy work at