Vitalik Denys, known on Instagram as @tribal.cat, is an Ukrainian photographer and portraitist from Lviv.
His photography is linked to memories and emotions, it is a magic that captures time, it is the sum of stimuli, impulses, inspirations and personal references.
In his work, he mixes art and instinct, memory and change, self-searching and attention to the other.
We had the chance to talk a bit with him about photography, art and life.
Here is the interview, enjoy the reading.
Hi Vitalik, tell us something about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you discover photography?
I grew up in Lviv, an old city in Western Ukraine. This is the place, that gave me lots of memories, along with the first connection with the world of photography. It all started as a hobby in the 90s when my parents bought me my first film camera and I discovered photography and the process of “keeping memories”.
I loved the way it worked, it was magic for me, like an amber inclusion. In some way, photography is like fixing an epoch in human history, a particular historical moment in life on our planet.
Tell us your path in the world of photography
I have always considered photography to be a dream job, but it was a hobby for a long time before I decided to turn it into my profession. I worked in different areas of photography first, before realizing that portrait photography was my true passion. But I’m still in search, and, in some way, my style reflects a constant search of myself through the lenses.
What value do art and photography have for you?
Art is a comprehensive basis of everything I do, and because of the fact that art is so holistic, I have this opportunity to express my vision through photography. I also put art first when I make a photo session, whether I think about the conception of a shooting, or when I deal with an improvised shooting. We all agree, that art also means a process of creating. So, when photography is done using artistic approaches when it comes from inside, a result reflects my inner state and vibes – then I receive a real delight from the process.
What do you like to tell through your photography?
The complexity of modern world pushes me to simple forms, but I also love to experiment with different approaches. The diversity of colors and approaches reflects my inner desire for a constant change.
To photography is a visual poetry, often open for perception. So, I would like people to find their own answers to the photos. I am trying to insert emotion into photos, not an idea. And it may easily be interpreted in different ways, and I love it works that way. Making people feel is already enough for me.
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Essence, innermost, immersion.
Which artists and photographers have influenced your work?
I often feel strong emotions when I look at a painting, watch a film, read a novel and listen to a song, but it is insane for me to highlight just a few things or people that inspire me.
My personality could be influenced by so many forms: paintings, books, movies, music, people’s spirit, colours I see in some paintings, places I visit for the first time, emotions that surround me. I’m in a constant state of change and I adore it. Those things are being digested by my consciousness all the time, make me think and create.
So many things awaken something inside me, they touch a deep corner of my subconscious and reveal different aspects and maybe, somehow it can be reflected in the photos. A human being is an amazing form of life, we are small within the universe, but, nevertheless, we have an ability to love, to feel, to create. And it’s already enough. Because your art can become a universe, a human is already a universe.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing to consider while shooting portraits?
I think it is important to look for yourself while creating. A model can reflect your style, or your style can dictate the process of making a portrait. The result depends on many factors, it is a visual poem and if you want to reflect your inner state you can project it onto the model. The most important thing for me is what I want to get. If I am not sure, then the result may be diffusive, pointful, or pointless.
There is one thing I always tell people who seek answers: rules are not for creators.
What kind of gear do you use?
I use a wide range of gear from different brands. If I make a visual scheme of what gear each of my photos was taken by, it would be a large list of cameras and lenses, starting from amateur mirror and mirrorless cameras, and finishing professional cameras and lenses. During the last two years I used mostly Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, and also iPhone.
Currently, I’m in search of permanent gear that would satisfy my needs in lots of ways. I want to start making more videos in addition to photography, so I think I would still need to wait some time before I understand what do I need.
Continue the sentence: for me photography is…
For me photography is a balance.
What are you working on lately?
I’m working on adopting new approaches, experimenting with depersonification and trying to make my photographs more open for interpretation and more prominent.