All images by Lina Skukauskė. Used with permission.
Lina Skukauskė is a Lithuanian lifestyle photographer currently living & working in Munich, Germany. She loves creating what she calls “aesthetic, high-quality images.” This is surely evident just by glancing at her Behance profile. She focuses on hospitality and lifestyle photography- subjects such as interiors, food, travel & people and her images are used by various business owners for their branding and marketing.
Part of her aesthetics come from the fact that she wasn’t originally all about photography. Instead, she embraced drawing.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Lina: Actually, I never planned to be a photographer. My interest in photography started when I was about 16, but it was nothing serious; I just played with my parents’ simple camera and at that time I was more interested in drawing.
The big reason why photography seemed interesting for me was the works I found online. I remember how I used to look at works on deviantART or Flickr and at that time I had no idea how they created those wonderful photos—it kind of seemed like magic to me. I studied graphic design in Denmark and we had a short introductory class in photography, and then I started to better understand how to take and edit images.
One day I found the Cuba Gallery website (they teach about Adobe Lightroom) and I made a decision that I MUST master this. So I bought a DSLR camera, started practicing, and really enjoyed it—the possibility to tell stories, to inspire people, to share my vision. I still hadn’t planned on this being a career, but as I got better I started getting clients.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into lifestyle product and food photography?
Lina: I tried many different subjects in photography trying to find what I like and what I’m good at. I knew I love capturing colors, light & textures and I knew I loved telling stories that inspire people. I always search for beautiful things in life and I’m also very interested in design, business & branding, so it made sense to focus on lifestyle photography and help other businesses with photography for their branding and marketing. At some point, I got a job at a lifestyle magazine and had to photograph food, interiors and portraits and tell stories about creative business owners and I really enjoyed that. It was something very different from the most common choice in photography- weddings, but I felt it suited my personality and lifestyle choices much better (I didn’t want to work on weekends and I’m an early riser, so I wanted normal work hours and B2B work was a better choice).
Phoblographer: When you approach a project, how do you usually go about getting ideas? Is there storyboarding involved? Are you inspired by the light? Is there lots of thought put into the product and how someone will use it?
Lina: First I discuss with the client what do they want- how do they imagine their brand, what keywords would they use to describe it? I also try to find a story to tell- maybe there is something about the product that customers don’t know, but what, if known, would add value and interest. For example, if the product is handmade we can show that, or maybe there is a special place where products are created that we can show which adds uniqueness to the product. It helps to stand out and connect with your customers. I do usually collect images that inspire me for the specific project, sometimes we make a shared Pinterest board with a client to gather ideas. I’m often inspired by the textures and shapes and how certain light or post production can accentuate it.
Phoblographer: What trends do you see coming in the near future for lifestyle product imagery?
Lina: I’m no trend expert, to be honest 🙂 Though what I expect is an even smaller distinction between advertising images and casual, “real” photos. With the growth of Instagram and blogging the ways brands advertise changed a lot. I would say now it’s a lot about the connection to their customers and a lot about influencers who advocate for the brand and images just need to be aesthetic and appealing to the customer, but they don’t necessarily need to be high-end, professionally lit, shot in studio images.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about your lighting; it seems like you’re always trying to specifically make things look like natural light. Do you only use natural light, or is that just a creative aesthetic. Why do you value this in the looks that you produce?
Lina: I’m mostly using natural light (probably about 90% of time) and reflectors or objects to block the light and I turn to additional artificial light only if I think it’s really necessary, but then I also try to keep the natural look. The natural light and the way it changes through the day and locations was one of the things that inspired me to go into photography, I just find it really appealing. Of course it’s much more difficult to predict and control than studio light and it’s a completely personal choice. I always find that the more simplistic the gear the more fun and creativity I can have in the shoot. Even having a tripod already restricts the spontaneity and artificial light makes me even more constrained.
But I must say I do quite a lot of editing in Lightroom & Photoshop- I come from a graphic design background and playing with colors was something I liked a lot, nowadays image editing gives the same possibility. So though the lightning is natural, but I achieve lots of effects in the editing process.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.
Lina: I use Canon 5D Mark III, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM, tripods, some reflectors and Speedlite 600EX-RT with stand and an umbrella. Peli suitcase for gear is also quite an essential tool 🙂 For editing, I use Lightroom and then go further to Photoshop to erase distracting elements or resize etc.
Phoblographer: You shoot lots for commercial reasons, but tell us about your personal work. What keeps you creatively fueled and innovative?
Lina: As much as possible I try to select commercial works that I personally like and feel inspired to do, I strongly believe that you should like what you’re doing in order to produce good work. What keeps me creatively fuelled is curiosity- I have many interests besides photography and love to learn about and try out new things. And it’s usually the intersection of my interests that lead to some new work- for example, I’m vegetarian and I was a raw vegan for half a year and I started to take food pictures to share recipes with friends on Facebook- nowadays I get paid to photograph food. My passion for outdoors and hiking trips resulted in some unexpected photography works, too. I think it’s important to not close yourself and experiment- as artists we’re all constantly evolving and our work should evolve, too and should show our personality. Traveling inspires me a lot and I plan to shoot more and more travel images. I also love introducing people to good services/products/ideas, so often it’s my wish to share those stories that leads to new photography work.
Then, of course, I also watch good works from others- be it via Instagram, Behance or photography books, but they also inspire me a lot to try out new things.
Phoblographer: How do you plan on evolving your business over the next year?
Lina: I love goal setting, but at a current moment in life I don’t plan a lot- I probably will be moving out of Germany after next spring, my husband is planning a career change, so this makes it a bit difficult to plan far in the future. What I know that this year I’m photographing a book about interiors and styling with plants, I will travel quite a lot and do more travel photography, I want to do more food-related works, work with bigger brands and focus more on blogging and growing my social media channels.
This year I’m also planning to study some other things (not photography related) that I’m interested in for quite a long time, but didn’t have time yet to fully explore and I will see where that leads me 🙂