Among Latvian photographers the handwriting of Roman Drits (1986) can be recognised immediately – they are particularly grainy, highly contrasted black-and-white photographs. His series Auftakt has been exhibited in solo shows in Vilnius, Kaunas and St. Petersburg, but at the end of this year another exhibition is planned at the Latvian Museum of Photography as well. In series Webcam portraits Drits photographed unknown people from the computer monitor that he virtually met over various chats on the internet. Currently the photographer lives in Hamburg and is working on a new project Paradies, where he is interested in an individual’s ability to adapt in a foreign country, different society and culture.
How would you characterise what appeals to you in photography?
I have been working in photography for seven years now and I have concluded that all that I’m interested in and all that has ever interested me in photography is intermediacy. I have tried to work on styles and directions, as well as to come up with some ideas on the depth that is sort of hidden in my subjects, yet, it seems, it’s not for me. Intermediacy – that’s all I’m interested in.
How did you arrive at the dark and grainy photographs?
I used to work in a photo lab in Riga, where I could experiment with analogous processes, and that’s how I got to this image. Now, if necessary, I reach the same result by both with analogous equipment (scanning and processing the film) and digital equipment, including a mobile phone.
Have there been any interesting incidents when taking photographs for Webcam portraits?
It’s hard not to notice that most of the users or their intimate body parts are completely naked on the web pages where I took these photos. The first thing these users saw on their screens was a man with a camera and their reactions were very diverse. Some of them quickly jumped off the monitor, some of them immediately switched off the web camera or swiftly shut their notebooks.
What have you been doing in Hamburg?
Approximately one and a half years ago we came to Hamburg, because my wife got enrolled at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre. I have always wanted to live abroad and Hamburg is not the last stop, although home is home and we definitely know that we will return in Latvia. During the first year here we had to think of survival, and my projects were quickly swapped with commissions, which, in turn, provided income to cover the rent. Luckily, now I have got a new job, which is hardly related to photography, thus I will be able to spend more time on photographing my own projects. This is the paradox of my life.
You have had three solo shows so far, but none of them has taken place in Latvia. Why so?
At the end of this year my first solo show will take place at the Latvian Museum of Photography. Also, a joint show is planned with Leonid Tugalev, which, of course, is a huge honour for me.