EK Interview: Tadao Cern

The photography of Tadao Cern has a deal of range, focusing on everything from redheads, Cuba, to people getting their faces distorted by air.  No doubt his novelty is welcome in the artistic media.

What was your favorite game growing up?  Do you miss running around and playing games?
I don’t remember having any favorite games while growing up. And I don’t miss that today because I still do the same things as when I was a kid: riding my bicycle, singing while doing it, a few times a week I go running, I have a small football and basketball ‘field’ in my studio, I almost every day play badminton with my friends, foosball and sometimes I play computer games. So basically nothing has changed:) My life is about having fun and playing, even at work. I do believe that playing and having fun is a key to a success. Because kids learn about the world while playing so grown ups shouldn’t stop doing that too. Painting, taking pictures and traveling is a game to me. The only difference is the toys are more expensive and playing field is a bit bigger.
01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (6) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (13)
How do you think the creativity of people changes as they mature?  Or does it?  Why are children so much more willing to indulge in fantasies and pretend than adults?
Well I do believe that you start to pay more attention to fundamentals. At least this is my aspiration. And I see my self painting one color pictures and finding a lot of sense in that:)
01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (9) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (10)
Where were you personally when you decided to walk away from architecture and take up photography?  How has that transition gone?
Well I don’t see myself as a street photographer – so I don’t travel somewhere only for taking pictures. I travel only to places that I want to visit as a tourist and I take pictures there only because it’s like fishing – you wait for the next good shot as you would wait for a next fish. It’s all about game and getting experience in further projects. I do not consider my travel photos as some sort of photography projects. These images are just something to remember – as a personal diary. I do believe that street photography represents your point of view in a way but I would like that people would judge about me only from images that I create from scratch on my own:)
Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocern.com) Cuba in Color (6)
Why do you have two separate series on Cuba, one in color and one in black and white?  Some of the photos are the same and some are not, how did you decide which photos would be in color and which would not?  What about the photo affected your decision?

Well it’s because I don’t want to mix two styles and some images were made on BW film and some on colour – even from the same scenes. Some images are almost the same because I like them both:)

Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocern.com) Cuba in Color (13)
What was your experience like in Cuba?  How was the food, the people, the culture?  How was it the fit and defy your expectations?  Would you go back?  What was the most memorable moment you had in Cuba?
The country itself is very safe. I was walking around with my camera almost at night and didn’t feel like I would be robbed or anything. People were really friendly and I could call this country ideal for any photographer because there is so much to shoot but at the same time you feel like cheating because ‘the time that has stopped’ in there makes everything much easier. Anyway, people were great, nature is amazing and the food is the worst that I have ever had in my life:)
Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (7) Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (8)
Why do you think red hair is so fetishized?  Why is it that brown and blond seem to be the standards while red is considered somewhat of an outsider?  What does it say about our culture, our society, that we can arbitrarily choose a feature that is less expressed than others, and choose to alienate people as a result?

Simple – because there’s much less people with red hair:) And I’ve chose to do these series only because I found this subject quite interesting for myself and I’ve been asked by one magazine to do so and afterwards they made few publications and an exhibition.

Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (9) Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (12)
For New York Faces, how did you approach the subjects to photograph them?  How did you decide whom to photograph?  What do you think of the people of New York?

A good picture usually has to be interesting. At least that’s what the fundamentals of a good image should be. I took a lot of pictures while staying in NYC and the most interesting subject for me was ‘city people’. That’s how I’ve decided to document some of them and bring these images to my city Vilnius for an exhibition. I was very scared when I had ask to for a chance to make a portrait for the first time. But one by one it started getting easier and easier. At the end I was feeling only pleasure talking with these people that I found interesting to me:) And I learned that one thing that you have to do if you want to take someones picture – you just have to he honest:) In a month I am going back there so maybe I’ll bring some new portraits:)


What are you working on now?  Will you ever return to architecture?  Will you stay with photography?

At the moment I am trying to finish commercial projects that I’m working on. Every day I’m trying to end with a new painting and after a month in New York I think I’ll start new project that would talk about something more serious like human eating habits, because this theme is very important to me. But it’s always better when projects speak for themselves.

Where are you right now?  Why have you chosen that place to answer these questions?  How much do you think perception is affected by setting?  Or does that depend on the setting?  Or the person?  Or a mixture of many things?  Are there certain places that you find you can work very well and others where you can not?  Why is that, do you think?
At the moment I live in Vilnius, Lithuania. My goal is to stay here but I would love to spend 3-4 months a year in cities like New York, London, Berlin, Paris etc. Because they help to forget about the routine and gives you a lot of inspiration and will to move on. I always had a plan, to live in Vilnius and to work with clients (galleries, publishers, festivals) from all around the world. I hope to achieve this goal completely in a few years:) If you see yourself as an artist than I don’t believe that a place where you spend the most of your time will affect your work results, but if you are willing to be a fashion or advertising photographer – there’s no other ways to do that, than just going to cities like Paris, New York, Hong Kong or London… I want to spend some time in there not because I need it, but just because I love traveling:)

01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (3) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (4) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (5)  01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (14) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (15) 01 Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Blow Job 525px (17) Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocern.com) Cuba in Color (3)  Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocern.com) Cuba in Color (8)  Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (2)   Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (9) Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (10) Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (5)Tadas Cerniauskas (www.tadaocernc.om) Cuba (14)

Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (3) Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (4) Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (5) Tadas Cerniauskas(www.tadaocern.com) Red Hair (6)


Further thoughts from Tadao:

I finished school, got a masters degree in architecture and two years ago I’ve decided to try out something new. Today I am 29 and currently I live in Vilnius, Lithuania.That ‘something new’ turned out to be wedding photography:) A year latter I opened my own studio in Vilnius and today I definitely know that not being afraid to change something in your life really pays off:)Photography helped me in understanding that today you can do more than one thing, because new technologies and communication opportunities are on your side helping you to learn and get experience much faster than it was ten or twenty years ago. Equipment is affordable and the things that you used to call hobby one day can become a main job. Or better – one of your many jobs! So today I stand on a side where people believe living only for once and that this saying really has some truth in it:)I really do hope to come back to architecture one day, because it is one of my biggest passions. But first I have to cheat on it with other hobbies to be sure about the strength of my feelings:))At the moment I don’t have any style in photography, because I haven’t tried much yet. It takes years to find your path but I don’t think about it because my goal isn’t to find one – it should come naturally. At the moment I try to enjoy what I do and inspiration comes from every day regular activity. As long as it gives me pleasure and I learn something new – it’s ok for me. I do believe that there is a formula of how to achieve fame and become very well known as an artist but achieving these goals may become a routine and a hard work without any pleasure in process. At the moment I want to enjoy every moment, spend a day without any stress and not to struggle to much… Everything will come naturally:)

For my photography work I am using medium format film camera and few full frame DSLR’s. Since I’ve tried few brands and all sorts of lenses – I can clearly say that brand names, millimeters and other thing don’t make any difference as long as you don’t have anything to say with your work. And when you do – any equipment will suite your needs. So usually I don’t think to much about what kind of camera or lenses should I take with me to a trip or for some sort of a project – I know that it’s possible to make a good shots with any of them. Sometimes it’s even better to have only one camera and one fixed lens in order to keep focused on a subject, composition, light, idea and not wait for a miracle that should be produced by a super bright lens and magic camera.

Photography is not the only way that I use to express and create some of my ideas. That is why I find photography as a way to create something visually clear and understandable – people, food, architecture, street life, etc.. It is the best way to talk about every day activities, social problems and differences, life purpose and it helps create some fun stuff like ‘Blow Job’ series.  For conceptual art and something more spiritual I would rather use other art medias such as painting, drawing and sculpture.

And I am not in to talking about my future projects since I do believe that projects should speak for themselves. But in the nearest future I should introduce something related with human eating habits, because this theme is very important to me and there are some things that need to be said:)

My suggestion for other people and not only for the artist – don’t be afraid to change something in your life. It may cost you much but eventually it’ll pay off and it’ll be worth taking the risk. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll be proud of yourself and finally you wont feel the guilt for waisting your life:)

About the ‘Blow Job’: series doesn’t have any hidden senses. It was meant to give some good laughter to the viewers and participants. It turned out to be more that I expected and that is why I like what I do today – every day is full of pleasant surprises.

My studio is located in loft block in Vilnius and they have an annual tradition to make an Open Day for everyone who wants to visit. That was something new for me, so I wanted to makes something that would be entertaining, make people laugh and that everyone could participate in this.

The idea to blow wind in to the face and make a portrait somehow came to my head instantly. But I didn’t thought that it was special or something:)

It took me only few seconds to take one picture. Person in front of my camera had to breath in and hold it until my assistant was blowing wind in to his face. Also I built myself a special 2.5m light source to create this clean and shadowless light.

Not everyone was brave enough to stand in front of a camera, but still they had a good time seeing others in action:) The studio soon was full of people and everyone was having a good time.

The strength of a wind is the same as going 300hm/h with the car and sticking your head out of a window. No one was injured and no one felt bad after doing this. The process requires some safety preparation and we tried to do our homework as good as possible.