Antanas Sutkus, Photographer

It is not easy to take honest portraits of a photographer. Like many of us, Antanas Sutkus would rather “hide” behind the camera than be exposed in front of it.

I’ve known Sutkus’ work since my childhood. He is one of the old masters of Soviet photography and the co-founder of the Lithuanian Photography School. His series People of Lithuania is considered one of his most important works. It is a continuing project begun in 1976 to document the changing life and people of his country. Working when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union, he focused on black and white portraits of ordinary people in everyday life rather than the model citizens and workers promoted by Soviet propaganda. Sutkus had an opportunity to spend time with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in 1965 when they visited Lithuania. One image shot against the white sand dunes of Nida, is highly regarded as capturing Sartre’s ideas.

When we finally met at his exhibition in Munich I was granted the opportunity to photograph him in my studio. I believe these portraits show his vulnerability, personality, Weltschmerz, and condition.

We’ve been friends ever since. He is my inspiration and mentor, and I try to visit him as often as possible at his home in Vilnius.

Click here to see his works: