Berta Tilmantaite is a Lithuanian multimedia journalist, photographer and videographer. Her visual stories from different parts of the world often focus on the connection between human and nature. Berta has BA in Journalism from Vilnius University (Lithuania), also took a course in Photojournalism at Danish School of Media and Journalism. She holds MA in International Multimedia Journalism (University of Bolton/Beijing Foreign Studies University). Currently Berta works as a freelance multimedia journalist and photographer. Her work has been published in various media outlets, such as National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Geographical, GEO, Rhythms Monthly, China daily and others. She also occasionally lectures at Vilnius University and VGT University in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Hi Berta! Where are you now?
Hi! I’m in Norway at the moment. Going to New York in a few hours and then moving to Argentina – planning on traveling Latin America.
Why did you start to photograph?
I think I chose photography as a way of communication as I didn’t like words that much. My dad was photographing me and everything around since I was a baby. He also used to let me help him develop photographs in the darkroom. That was my absolutely favorite game ever. I was astonished every time I saw images come to life – shapes and figures slowly appearing while soaking paper into the chemicals. It feels kind of magical to go through old picture albums, see things you don’t remember, see yourself as a child and how everybody and everything changed over the years. But photography is not only a sentimental action. It’s much more. And that’s why I chose it.
You travel a lot and every time you come back with beautiful images in your.e Is there a trip that has a special place in your heart? Why?
I think traveling is not only about places, what sights and landscapes they have to offer. But it’s also about the movement itself, people you meet or travel with, mood, challenges, learning, and discoveries. All those things get associated with places in one way or another, of course, and that what makes those places special. I couldn’t exclude one trip in particular; they are all connected, growing from each other.
“Travels influence me as a person…It keeps me aware, curious, open, it constantly teaches and challenges me.”
We really love your project “Evenkia’s Dikiy”. Tell us something about this experience.
Evekia’s Dikiy was a story initiated by two other photographers – G. Dagys and Z. Vasiliauskas – and I was invited to join them on the expedition. Evenkia is a region in Siberia, Central Russia. And “dikiy” in Russian means “wild”. We went there to photograph and film a story about Zimnik – a winter road and wild life along it.
What was the hardest part of this project? And the best?
The best was meeting Oleg the hunter, his helpers, then a boy, called Spiridon and to see that insanely beautiful wild nature. I was persistently filled with awe, shaking my head and couldn’t believe we were really there. Relationships between people and fights with yourself are usually the hardest thing while working and/or traveling. But it’s inevitable. Our truck was also constantly breaking, making the trip even more challenging. Despite all that it was a hell of a ride.
Do your travels influence your photography somehow?
Travels influence me as a person and different aspects of my life, photography including. It keeps me aware, curious, open, it constantly teaches and challenges me. In contrary, photography also influences my travels as I’m constantly looking for places with interesting stories to shoot.
How do you choose your stories?
Everything develops more or less naturally. I only want to work with stories that I really care about. I throw aside all that doesn’t touch me and focus on what really does. Therefore, I prefer working freely, on my own, instead of taking up assignments. If the story doesn’t interest me it’s really hard to work and the result is usually average. Of course, there are ways to engage with stories, find interesting aspects or different medias and ways to tell them. In one way or another, there must be something that will keep you going, digging and awake, always thinking about the story, how to tell it, what to summon from your self and what to call out from the audience.
“I like motion and dynamics in pictures, but some places and stories require shooting static, for instance.”
Is there an element you try to incorporate every time when you shoot?
I believe that every story, place or person suggests you indirectly the way to photograph. You have to be open and sensitive to feel and then follow it. To try incorporate some element and force it even if that element doesn’t fit wouldn’t make sense. I like motion and dynamics in pictures, but some places and stories require shooting static, for instance. And I don’t mind, I go with it. But only for as long as it works. If the result looks boring and doesn’t satisfy me, I throw everything I had away and start from the beginning, completely differently.
Are you inspired by someone in particular?
A lot of different people, some of them my friends and relatives, who are determined, free, and just do their own thing. Also, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, William Trubridge, Robyn Davidson, Wes Andersen, Sixto Rodriguez and many others. In photography, Martin Parr, for sure. Antoine D’Agata, Trent Parke, Vivian Maier, Man Ray. And my grandfather.
Do you think there are different kind of photographers (like fashion photographers and photojournalists) or only different point of views?
Different kinds of photographers with different points of view.