Russian doll princesses, nature goddesses with pet pheasants: Neringa Rekasiute takes pictures of magic, transforming her models into peculiar, ethereal fairy tales. Wonderland speaks to her about deadlines, visions, and how anyone can be a photographer – even a monkey.

Do you have a vision, if any?

Vision has me – that’s the way I would put it. It’s kind of predetermined relationship I have with my vision; I didn’t rationally chose to have it. I didn’t decide “This is going to be my vision”. It’s a painful process which reminds me of convulsions sometimes. It strikes me unexpectedly and then I become totally consumed by it.

The perfect personification for my vision would be a wrinkled giant Grandmother of mankind. As her granddaughter, I’m obliged to listen to her. We’re bonded, dependent on each other. There are times I want to resist, but if Grandmother leaves me alone for longer, I feel lost and lonely.

How old you were when you started?

I remember my dad telling me: “You need to learn as much as you can until you are 22. Then your brain starts slowing down”. As much as I love my dad, I disagree with him. It’s about how you start, not when you start. You need to start with your heart, with full involvement. You can achieve a lot even if you are 40, or 50, or even 60. I started at the age of 20, but it lived in me waiting for a moment all my life. It just took time to get my shit together.

What do you think are the most important skills for a photographer to have?

To be an artist, not only a photographer. A photographer is just a technician: everyone can press a button, even a monkey. Photography is just a tool that an artist happens to use to express their vision. To transform his inner chaos into defined finished creation. That hurts sometimes. Or sometimes it makes you feel so euphoric – like sex!

What else do you do besides photography?

I like to listen. Listen to myself, to people around, to the world, to the city, to nature. I observe. I take it in. Sometimes I dance like mad a tarantula. Occasionally I drown into the world of reading.

How do deadlines and contracts influence your creativity?

The question implies the answer and you are totally right – they do. Deadlines and contracts paralyze me. But I’m learning to accept it as part of my work. It’s inevitable. The sooner I integrate it into my character, the better.

What gets you ready for a photo shoot?

Stress. Nothing gets me more ready than stress. In the moment of panic, you really show to yourself who you are and what you are capable of. Our culture is so rapid that you can never be ready for anything. You just can learn to deal with unpleasant surprises better.

If you had your time over, would you do anything differently?

No, I wouldn’t. I have a tattoo that says – ‘Amor Fati.’ That means ‘love your fate’, because it’s all you have. I go with the flow. Of course, like everyone I carry guilt, sorrow and regrets with me. But it’s a part of who I am. And I am quite happy with who I am.

Neringa Rekasiute

Words: Julija Kaselyte