The Beauty of Freedom: An Interview with Pavel Tereshkovets
Constantly travelling, Pavel Tereshkovets has developed freedom, as well as the feeling for capturing unusual moments and locations. That freedom provided him with the possibility to enhance his photography style and introduced him to the world of endless inspiration. In this interview, Pavel lets us into his world and speaks about what makes him tick.
I understand, you took up photography back in your childhood, capturing moments with old Soviet cameras. How has your photography style changed over the years? Have you preserved that childlike vision of wanting to capture every moment with his analogue camera?
When I was about 12–13 years old I was traveling a lot with my family and on my own and I had this urge to somehow try and save my memories. When you’re that young even a week long trip can seem endless and last forever. And I think unconsciously I started taking random photos — of whatever was surrounding to me. I really wanted to remember it all and photography was my savior. Up to my early twenties I had no idea what I was going to do with my photos and why I was doing it at all. At some point some of my works picked up public attention and I though “Hm, people like it, I like it so what’s here to think about?”. I stopped taking random images and started thinking big projects instead.
What, in your opinion, makes working with analogue cameras special? Do you think that the uncertainty of creating photographs is what motivates people to continue shooting on film?
To be honest I never understood it myself. You can take me on a trip with a photography assignment and give me two cameras — one digital and one film and trust me — when I come back you won’t even believe that those pictures are from the same trip. This is how differently film makes you see things. It’s strange but film gives me a totally different feeling. It’s almost to the point of physical discomfort and mental uncertainty when I have to shoot something with a digital camera. For some projects though I intentionally choose to work with digital cameras like in my “White Silence” project. It’s mostly whenever I need more control over what I’m photographing and when I need to see the results right away.
Back as a teenager, you had the opportunity to visit various countries and to travel extensively. Did the photography find its way to you, or were you on the way to find it?
It’s a deeply philosophical question but here’s what I think — we found each other. And of course travels were very important. I wanted to share my memories because there wasn’t enough words to describe my experiences but a photograph could tell it all. We live, we die and what’s left are our memories that we made other people to remember.
In what way did the places and countries you visited influence the creation of your authentic photography style?
I think it was not as much different countries and places but rather distance from my home, my remoteness I was feeling when on those trips. All that was making me imagine giant lonely landscapes, endless fields, roads leading you into the unknown. All those feelings combined with the music I was listening to inspired me to create whatever I’m creating.
You have explored various topics through your work and in your project “White Silence”, you have showed aloof and lonely women in various locations. In what way are you inspired by, now omnipresent, phenomenon of increasing loneliness of people? Did you want your work and photographs to also contain the topics that relate to dark sides of human nature?
I certainly like that feeling of loneliness. When it’s just you, your thoughts and your imagination. Do you know that type of movies when you come out of the theater and everything seems a bit unreal? You’re that impressed you can’t perceive the reality as you’re used to and you see it differently. Or you just read a book and you can’t get it out of your head. That’s how I think good photographs should be as well. They should leave you speechless, they should make you think and wonder. In my “White Silence” project I definitely related to dark sides of human nature too. It’s something I’ve always been astonished by. You never know what your dark side is capable of and that’s scary. But it’s a part of human nature and the best way to fight it is to face it one way or another. My way was to create a series that is beautiful and — when you really think about it — terrifying at the same time.
Apart from being a photographer, you used to play in a rock band? How do you perceive the connection between music and your love towards photography? Has music contributed to your work being more diverse?
Music is my number one secret ingredient to inspiration. Without it I wouldn’t be where I am today both in life and in photography. Music is the most powerful of all media and it has definitely inspired a lot of my work.
Travelling around the western parts of America, you did a series of photographs that represent the life in America from an angle that is not so glamorous, but rather realistic and different. What motivated you to create such a story with your photographs?
Being born in the Soviet Union where it was hard to get rock-n-roll records, to express your own opinion, to have free media and things like that — I had always been attracted to the United States and that word “freedom”. Back then it was my dream to come here and photograph the country. Then when I turned 24 I came to America and started traveling just like I imagined I would. Of course there was always my camera with me and I was documenting what I was seeing — and what I was seeing was different. I knew it would form a project of some kind in the end — I just didn’t know what kind of project and what about. But then little by little I started forming this idea of a “different America” and that’s how the project was born.
Who or what do you turn to when in need of inspiration?
Music and books with a soul. Something that expands your mind will always make more room for your inspiration.
You have chosen San Francisco as your home. What did this city attract you with to make you stay and live in it?
I chose the city because I knew the summer of love had happened here and because I knew Metallica was from the area. I can’t say I’m in love with the city though. There are certain things about it that I definitely hate. And it’s cold here, too.
What is the future destination that you plan on visiting? What are your plans for future projects?
Currently I’m still working on my “American Prayer” series. It takes years to finally arrive at the feeling that you’ve finished a project. So far I’ve been to almost everywhere in California, Nevada is my second home, I’ve been to Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado — the total of 12 states. But I haven’t been to the Eastern states and it’s really a terra incognita for me. So I’m thinking of going there next and doing a cross country trip to shoot more for “American Prayer.