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Juris Justs

Juris Justs (1984) is known as a passionate street photographer, catching the light and shadow play and daily situations on the streets of Riga. He has had shows in gallery Bitvīns and at Talsi Cultural House. This year his works also were shortlisted for FK Portfolio prize. Juris has studied photography from books on art and film. “The key principle is in the control of the visual flow and avoidance of low-quality images. I allow myself experimenting and taking pictures intuitively. A street photographer has to walk miles. Often the most interesting things are somewhere around the corner,” says Juris, who also plays the bass guitar in Tribes of the City. In December Juris’s works will be exhibited at the street photography show at the Latvian Museum of Photography.

How did you turn to street photography?

I love walking, finding and discovering new places. I realized that street photography works best for catching the moments, which are unexpected, unplanned and spontaneous. You don’t have to stage the situations, they emerge on their own. You don’t need the control you would usually have when working in the studio, where you have to plan everything and need the appropriate light and models. Everything depends on the case and my readiness to take the necessary action.

What kind of the perspective one can have about Riga and its inhabitants from your photographs?

Each has his or her own opinion, I don’t particularly think about it.

Tell us about your technical process – starting with the right moment and ending with postproduction.

I always have a camera with me and I walk a lot. When there is no light, I look for the shade and observe people. Sometimes I find some place attractive and if I don’t get the images immediately, I return to this place again. There have been occasions when I have walked to some place twice a month for two years in a row. From such a walk I can get around three to four images. I select images immediately or in the nearest time. I take digital black-and-white photographs. Postproduction is simple – contrast in Lightroom.

When photographing on street, have you ever found yourself in a weird situation?

Once, when I was taking photographs in a graveyard, a man covered with prison-time tattoos and golden teeth approached me. He asked me to show the photo, as he was suspicious that I was photographing his wife. He was quite aggressive, and when I showed the photo, did not believe that I was photographing the gate of the graveyard and not his wife, who was in the house behind a window. I gave him my business card and told to call the police.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the series about nightlife in the city. During daytime people take certain routes – work, shopping, but during nighttime they let their hair down and open up more emotionally.