That’s it. Finally, I gathered enough fails and lessons learned, photography tips & tricks, exciting travel stories to fill my first 25-year experience baggage, and now I am ready to share it with you. As all stories begin, I think I should introduce myself (yes, I know that some of you might know me from a long time ago, but keep reading, maybe you will learn something new about me!).
Who is this „mysterious“ Justina Smile?
So 25 years ago on the 7th of April, 07:07 am (yes, I know, 777), a cute bubbly Justina was born in Kaunas, Lithuania (Lietuva). She had a great childhood full of little nature adventures, like building snow caves with minus 25 degrees, saving dragonflies from drowning, organizing snail races, kissing baby frogs because they were cute, and simply enjoying the riverside while growing up and time to time bringing some hand caught fish to my jar aquariums – yes parents loved her very much.
Why am I saying all this and why is this important? Well, currently, I define myself as a nature-loving, adventure seeking soul and this vivid colorful childhood was a start of all this, in my opinion. And for this, I am really thankful for my parents. Thanks, mom and dad!
Start of My Photography Path
Along to all this “wild soul” picture, another very and most important part of who I am is photography. When I was 11 years old, I got my first compact camera (in Lithuanian we call it “muilinė“, meaning soap-dish), that didn‘t have any manual settings or any fancy qualities, it just simply took pictures. Nevertheless, I was still given a thick photography book to learn about the main photography rules and important settings. To be honest, I could use all this information in 6 or so years, once I received my first mirror camera, but I think it had an impact on me, it felt very significant and my interest never stopped growing.
Before I owned an advanced camera, I spent my days experimenting with photography. I just thought of ideas and ways how to fulfill them. And in fact, I managed to take some really creative shots, some of them until today are my favorite photographs taken by me.
Only with a mirror camera, however, I started taking pictures of people. I will admit, the pictures, when I see them now, were not within the highest standards, and my editing skills were even more “impressive”. However, the passion, the urge to experiment, the enthusiasm was always there. That’s what kept me going. And also maybe funnily positive feedback I received from my friends. Thank you guys for that!
JUMPING into the “more real” Photography World
Even the high load of my study work and full-time employment didn’t scare my photography passion away. In fact, I started seeing myself as a photographer, recognizing it within a part of who I am and realized that I am never letting it go. Ever.
I started teaching photography at the University of Dundee Photography Society. Oh, that felt good. I was honestly happy. All of the sudden I got involved into many TFP based photoshoots, started working in a photography studio, got a night job as a nightclub photographer, took part in art projects – I was in it, booming. And till today I do. I am living in a different country, in a different culture, but I do the same, I simply enjoy taking pictures and teaching others how to do it.
Hyper. Energized. Me.
So it is clear I have this great passion for photography and I never want to let it go. However, it was never my only hobby. I actually had too many other “loves” – I was drawing, writing poems (exceptionally horrible ones, sadly got to know just recently), collecting chocolate packages, old tickets, even butterflies!
Also, a big part of my time and devotion took the orienteering sport (for those who never heard about it, it is basically running with a map in the forest and looking for the circled area of the map in a real life, NOT like in a treasure hunt or scouts. It’s crueler, smarter running, where you have to think of strategies how to reach the map point faster than your opponent and not to get lost in the wild forest (but for more of this I will make a blog post later).
Due to the amount of so many different hobbies and activities, I was feeling very lost about what I would like to do with my life. Well, I guess I still am. But that’s just being me, always trying things and “tasting” life.
A Traveler’s Soul Was Born
I would say my latest and the most powerful affection is traveling. I discovered it for the first time while traveling with my parents. Every summer we went to the mountains and explored new trekking routes with really rewarding panoramas. This really uplifted my motivation to get better at taking pictures. So I wouldn’t ruin the beauty of reality by taking a shitty picture.
Traveling really became my “hypnosis” only in Scotland when for the first time I started my life away from home and began living with my at time boyfriend (now fiancé). Every university break we went hiking, camping, and wilderness exploring. Scottish landscape was the most suitable to get in love with traveling. Like going to the best quality restaurant, with 3 Michelin stars, that’s how great Scotland was. Always unexpected & challenging, always breathtaking, but never unwelcoming. A traveler’s soul was born.
A nature lover, a photographer, a traveler, a life enthusiast that’s who I am and I am ready to share all my experiences, troubles & solutions, my photography work and discoveries and many more “My’s” – hope you are ready for all that! <3