Latvian-born photographer Evija talks moving to the UK, self-acceptance and the influence of others
Evija is a photographer from a small town in Latvia, currently living in London. Having yearned to experience life in the UK as a student, she moved to the city a few years ago: ‘I remember feeling like it was the place I was meant to be…’ she explains, ‘I imagined myself being in the UK a lot, and my longing to come here grew for months. I moved here after high school, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.’
Back in around 2008, Evija’s father bought a Sony a300 DSLR camera for a joint family Christmas gift, and she was the person who took greatest interest in using it. ‘I began taking photos of everything and everyone, never daring to point the camera at myself,’ she says, ‘but when the camera became my own, my interest in photography increased further, and in my teens I began taking self-portraits. As I grew up being shy and quiet, going out into nature with the camera felt like a natural thing to do.’
‘Then came self exploration: a photo journey of my life
in small parts – struggles, hurt, confusion, feeling lost,
but also, serenity, acceptance, nostalgia’
Having started out in photography with an interest in still-life and macro, Evija soon found that nature looked beautiful in both macro and wider angles, so spent a long time fascinated by landscape photography. ‘Like a thought process, I started with the small details and kept going on, adding something in each time, spreading it wider and just keeping curious as to how far I could go without thinking about a specific end result,’ she says.
From here, Evija turned to taking photographs of herself, ‘Then came self exploration: a photo journey of my life in small parts – struggles, hurt, confusion, feeling lost, but also, serenity, acceptance, nostalgia. I’d say my work has evolved as I have grown to accept myself and look at different things.’
Today, Evija uses a Canon 60D with a 50mm 1.8 lens that she’s experimented with for years. ‘I used to have a tripod and remote control for outdoor portraits, but now that I have less free time I’ve stuck to indoor portraits, with a stretch of the hand,’ she explains.
Raw beauty in nature is one of Evija’s greatest inspirations, as is music and anything which leaves her inspired to dig deeper, but her encounters with people impact her work most deeply: ‘I’ve been inspired to put out some work due to having shared a common thought or feeling with someone else – a friend, a relative, even a stranger. Just knowing, that we all feel these things at certain times and sharing it with others, seeing the response, inspires me.’
‘I could even say I depend on my feelings to make
me turn on the camera and give into it.’
A ‘nagging feeling’ draws Evija to produce the atmospheric close-up self-portraiture we share here today. We ask her about any upcoming projects, and she explains that this work ‘comes when it comes. I never plan a photo for myself – in fact, I could even say I depend on my feelings to make me turn on the camera and give into it. I prefer it to come naturally.’ She continues, ‘Sometimes I feel like I’m experimenting with myself, being more of an observer of my own life.’