Interview by: Vanessa Peters
SKYN: Annija thank you so much for interviewing with us, we believe that your work is something special and we are excited to share it with our audience, so tell us about your ascent to photography?
ANNIJA: I picked up a camera when I was about 15 years old, started to experiment with angles and patterns, then I started to take pretty photos with big dress but eventually I got bored. That was the moment I started to experiment with Photoshop and ever since then I have only become better.
SKYN: You are quite honestly a beast at photoshop, what you specifically can do in it is insane. What else are you into?
ANNIJA: Aside from photography, I study advertising to understand what sells and how to sell it, but I have to say, it is more like a backup plan if photography won’t work out. When I feel deeply inspired, I paint. Pop art like, colorful portraits in a modern, urban art manner- I would describe my paintings. They are usually 1mx1m big, just because I personally think that everything that you paint on a big canvas looks cool.
SKYN: Wow I hope you are open for commissions because I’m sure it would be pretty sought after. Back to photography though, what equipment do you use when you are shooting?
ANNIJA: I use Nikon 5300, a simple tripod that my mom bought me on my 16th birthday and a wireless remote.
SKYN: Sometimes simple just makes sense. You actually alluded to this a little bit but I notice that you merge digital artistry with photography to create these imaginative experiences, what drove this merge?
ANNIJA: The idea came from creating something that doesn’t really exist in real life. It allows me to dream, to completely set my imagination free. I wanted to be different from others, to create something unseen before using already existing materials.
SKYN: Your imagery really isn’t something that exists in real life and I think that’s part of the draw. With that said, when you are workingbut you are in a gloomier mood, what music do you like to listen to?
ANNIJA: When I open Photoshop to start my 6 hour editing session, I usually listen to either Bon Iver, Ben Howard or Alt-J, or any folk or indie playlist. But I like all kinds of music too.
SKYN: I’m curious about what pertaining to photography keeps pressing you to create more and more?
ANNIJA: The main motivation I have is myself. The drive to become better, improve and be the best version I, and my photos, can be. But I have to admit, there are a lot of times when the inspiration just hits me from nowhere and I can take photos and create for days straight.
SKYN: That’s a straight up skill, lots of us have to be forced or ‘motivated’ to work, and natural motivation isn’t all that natural generally speaking. Can you tell us about any challenges you’ve come across in your career?
ANNIJA: The same as the main motivation, the biggest challenge I have come across is to overcome my own criticism and impatience. There are times when I think: What am I even doing? I should get a real job and rot in an office. But somehow I calm myself and feel the calling of art in me again.
SKYN: That’s real. Let me ask you, what are three things that you do not think that you can live without?
ANNIJA: I cannot live without the people I love, inspiration and Photoshop *laughs*
SKYN: We hear you; inspiration is everything for a creative. So much of your work is so enchanting so I trust that this may be a difficult question to answer but which photo is your favourite and why?
ANNIJA: I have few. The “Here comes the feeling” because it turned out exactly how I imaged it and I haven’t disliked it one second. The second one would be with the planets “Attending Earth’s Birthday party” and any other where I touch astronomy topics. And I love the one with the white butterflies “Excitement all around” because it just makes me smile every time I look at it. And now, when I am answering you this, I am realizing that almost every photo actually is so special to me, like a baby.
SKYN: I’ve seen them and they are almost inconceivable. Your work is very wraithlike, plays with fantasy and I notice some cosmic references in your photos to, what draws you to that form of expression?
ANNIJA: I just love stars, stargazing and everything to do with it. I strongly believe that we are made from stardust and the love of your life contains the same stardust parts as you do. I am always the one walking with my head up when the night sky is clear. The stars always the same but the feeling somehow feels different.
SKYN: With you being someone who is rather engaged with notions of cosmic belonging and motion, where would you love to travel to that you have not travelled to yet?
ANNIJA: I would absolutely love, love, love to travel to Iceland. It is such a beautiful place that I just must go to. Also Greenland, USA and many other places. I love to travel and I usually get so much inspiration from it. But, Iceland, oh Iceland. I just know I must go there.
SKYN: Iceland is incredible, quiet; you can probably hear yourself think more or not think at all if that’s what you choose. Anyway, your work has been featured and talked about in so many venues and publications, how does it feel to be the subject of so much buzz?
ANNIJA: Honestly, I love it. It feels like honey to my soul to see and read so much positive feedback, especially when behind all of it is hard work, long nights, tears and blood. The only thing I hope for now is that one day I will be able to do this full time, support myself and travel for the most amazing and best job for me.
SKYN: I’m wondering if you find Client-based work more difficult to put your effort in than your Personal Work?
ANNIJA: Definitely yes. As a creative person, it is difficult for me to be bossed around by people who want profit out of it. I do it for the love of doing it and the magic comes when there are no boundaries, deadlines or bosses.
SKYN: As a collective of creatives we can appreciate that. Has there been any major career impediments for you?
ANNIJA: There aren’t any particular, YET. The more popularity I get, the better. The more people see me and maybe consider my work good for them too. But we will see. Just yesterday official Adobe Photoshop Instagram featured one of my photos, that was just so nice to feel appreciated by the people with whose creation I would not be doing this without.
SKYN: That’s a pretty big deal for Adobe to feature you but at the same time you literally use their tool in such a unique way that it would be dumb for them not to quite frankly. Is there anyone or any publication that you were surprised liked your work?
ANNIJA: When the media boom hit, I was surprised that so many Arab and Asian countries wrote about me. But other than that, art is universal.
SKYN: Well that makes you international and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that. What makes you happy Annija?
ANNIJA: Seeing the people I love happy. Creating art, sun, travelling, everything turning out just the way it should be or better, and being appreciated.
SKYN: Fair enough, there is another thing that I noticed about your photography, it has an element of hyper-realism to it that you would generally see in paintings, is that on purpose or not?
ANNIJA: Yes, it is on purpose. I just love when people ask me, if it happened in real life or not.
SKYN: You certainly kept me guessing. Who is part of your team?
ANNIJA: My mom and my boyfriend who are my little helpers when it comes to driving me to the location or helping me with something, or people who lend me things that I need. Other than that there is only me from A to Z.
SKYN: You are the talent at the end of the day. What is it like to be a photographer in Latvia?
ANNIJA: I’m just a regular photographer, so it’s nothing special. A lot of people do it or consider themselves photographers. I’m probably the only photographer of my kind in Latvia for now. But the downside is people have a hard time understanding how to employ me. *laughs*
SKYN: Right it is a pretty small place after all. What has been your favourite collaboration thus far?
ANNIJA: The one I will shoot this Sunday. Stay tuned.
SKYN:*laughs* oh we will. Could you tell us about the main parts of your editing process?
ANNIJA: Layers. Curves layer. Color correction. Fade.
SKYN: I love how you said it in a way that answers the question but doesn’t give too much away, it’s great. How do you spoil and pamper yourself?
ANNIJA: From buying nice things, to traveling, deserts, and relaxing by the TV.
SKYN: You mentioned having a boyfriend earlier in the interview, do you guys relax by the TV a lot together?
ANNIJA: Yes. He also travels a lot, but for work. One of the many things that is so great about him is that he just goes with me. -“I have to go to shoot some trees 50km from here. Can you drive me and freeze for an hour?” – Yes, of course, we will get coffee on the go too!” We met a year ago and ever since it has been an adventure. Endlessly learning and improving each other. We might be from the same star.
SKYN: That’s adorable. I assume you have a photography philosophy based on your starry-eyed outlook on life?
ANNIJA: Know no boundaries. Everything is possible. Listen to others, but listen to yourself more.
SKYN: No limits! That’s an epic takeaway, what can we expect from you Annija?
ANNIJA: Few collaborations and better, more creative photos. At the same time finding ways to earn money with all of this and make a name for myself.
SKYN: As you should, all these bills don’t pay themselves. Looking back on your life is there anything you would do different?
ANNIJA: No, because if I hadn't have done everything exactly the way I did it, I wouldn’t be here. And that is a fact.
SKYN: I can respect that. When next we get to Latvia, or wherever your travels take you, do we have an open invitation to spend some time with you?
ANNIJA: Of course. I would love to meet you!
SKYN: We would love to meet you too.
@sofxposh | www.sofxposh.com
www.annijaveldrephotography.com | FB: annijaveldrephotography | FB: annijaveldrepaintings | IG: @annijaveldre | www.flickr.com/photos/127491573@N03 | www.behance.net/veldreannicaac
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