Before Americans knew about the concept of social distancing, Europeans were in full quarantine mode as the coronavirus spread like wildfire across the continent. One of those people, Edinburgh, Scotland-based Aivaras Simonis, has spent the past few months experimenting with his craft and producing vibrant imagery in his home. As we’ll soon see, the crisp minimalism of Aivaras’ work stands out in each shot.
Our conversation with the United Kingdom-based photographer has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: How are people handling the pandemic and the quarantine in your area? What’s your living situation and how are things there?
A: At the beginning of this madness, everyone was a bit nervous and you could see some signs of panic, like empty store shelves. However, I think everyone is used to this now. Can’t say that people are not worried or stressed out, but I think everyone is trying to get back to their normal routine as much as possible. I’m currently living on a rural side of [Edinburgh] with my wife and our cat. We have pretty easy access to multiple grocery stores and medical service if needed, so my situation is pretty decent.
Q: What was your first reaction to learning you’d have a lot of free time on your hands?
A: To be honest, I was worried. I always have a pretty tight schedule in place with regards to commissions, personal projects, marketing, etc. I had to redo my calendar and rethink my goals to be able to adjust to the current situation and move forward.
Q: What were the first things you wanted to work on in order to utilize this extra time?
A: Definitely personal projects. I have had done a few lately, and all I can say is the feeling is amazing. That special feeling inside of me once the images start to match the vision sitting in my head is something special. I can’t get enough of it!
Q: What are some things you have worked on in the last few weeks?
A: I been working on many things, specifically regarding my calendar, marketing plan, and personal projects. I find that quarantine is a good time to stop and re-think my goals and strategies. We need to do that from time to time as we are caught up with such fast-paced living. Recently, I been experimenting during my personal shoots, and already shot a few new images for my portfolio.
Q: Can you explain how you put these shots together?
A: I made these out of a love of modern minimalist imagery and products in those images. By creating these shots, I was able to try and discover new methods of photo retouching (like frequency separation), experiment with lighting (I used anywhere from 3-7 sources of light), and composition, which is vital in my work.
Each photo is unique, tells its own story, and conveys a different mood. When I’m working on my personal projects, I tend to experiment and try new things in order to get the look I’m after. I usually implement new techniques acquired during my personal shoots when doing commissioned work and that often helps to execute the brief successfully.
Q: How have you improved as a photographer or in any other aspect of your career since quarantine?
A: Even though the pandemic and the quarantine in general are really bad and worrying, I found time to sit down with myself and analyze areas of my professional skills that could be improved next. I have done several CreativeLive online classes in order to help myself grow in many aspects.
Also, I have found that experimental work usually leads to amazing results. I have learned to free up my mind and let go of any rules. That helped me a lot to achieve imagery I’m after.
Q: What do you do to balance work and life? Are you someone who needs a routine?
A: I’m definitely that person who needs a routine and strict calendar with job list. It would be a hard for me to measure how much I achieved without a list of goals and methods designed to reach them. Each morning I do a short training session at home. Helps to clear the head. During the current situation, I get to my home studio at 8 a.m. and leave at 7 p.m.
Q: What tips do you have for other photographers looking to stay productive during this time?
A: I would suggest having your personal shoots planned ahead. When it’s on the paper, it’s a commitment. Look for inspiring images on various sites and platforms, but do not compare your work with others. Just inspire yourself. Spend a decent amount of time preparing for the shoot and generating ideas for the composition, lighting, and set. Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people. Do things that help you to clear your head and stay sharp.
Q: What do you think it’s going to feel like to be back on a shoot when this is over?
A: Amazing. After all this, it will be a huge relief. However, I think it will be different; we will have to adjust and implement new things never done before. Some people might want to keep doing shoots remotely for safety reasons.
See more of Aivaras’ work at aivarassimonis.com.
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