Volodymyr Virstiuk, future journalist, amateur photographer from Kamianets-Podilsky, had his first charity photo exhibition last year. He organized it to raise a little money to cover the medical treatment abroad for two-year-old Demian from Lviv. Virstiuk decided to do this after he by chance heard a news report about the boy on TSN news. After that he will always be involved in charity. Recently he officially opened his second exhibition “Help Your Neighbor” that will run until the end of May. Volodymyr VIRSTIUK told The Day about his ideas and creative work.
Volodymyr, what prompted you to organize a charity exhibition this time?
“Perhaps, I would start by telling that I always open the door to anyone who knocks on it. Originally I planned to raise funds for 26-year-old Anna Poluektova – a girl with light feelings, who does not lose faith and fights for her life with a smile despite the sad diagnosis from doctors. This is one thing. And recently I got a personal message in a social network Vkontakte saying: ‘Help my daughter Viktoria Kerpek to have a childhood!’ Frankly, I was amazed when I opened the page created by Viktoria’s mother to help her daughter, like all the other people who follow the updates from the page. Then I decided to raise money for both girls and asked a more experienced local photographer Oleksandr Tarnavsky for help. Tarnavsky became a co-author of my exhibition.”
Have you considered the possibility of presenting your photo exhibition in other regions of Ukraine after it closes here in Kamianets-Podilsky?
“I’ve had such thoughts, but it requires time and financial support. Besides, I am still studying at university that is why I try to help people, who are looking for support, in the way available to me at the time. This does not require much – you just need to get out of your comfort zone in order to see that world has not changed, it’s just people who changed somewhat. It is sad to admit, but today people are losing their souls to hatred and malice. And the world is beautiful. I am convinced of this.”
When a photographer begins his artistic career with charity, some people believe that this is the way to gain popularity. What is your strategy?
“In the words of the late Bohdan Stupka: ‘Do your job faithfully and honestly and everything else will come to you.’ Perhaps, it would be dishonest if I say that I do not want to be a successful and popular photographer. Any photo exhibition is already a little PR for the author because more and more people learn about him. Little known artists become well known to the wider audience. Of course, this is the way one can gain popularity. But the means also matter. And this is a totally different story. Personally I do not have any strategy, I just try to accept life in all its forms the way it is.
“People should be able to have access to high quality product. A good example of this is The Day newspaper that preserves Ukrainian history, offers good social, educational, and cultural ideas. The Day doesn’t prompt its readers to get in line for happiness, instead it encourages them to take action.”
We know that you are an active member of the international Christian movement for people with special mental needs “Faith and Light.” Does this community affect your creative work?
“I have to say that it doesn’t just affect my work but it fills it with bright light. Even though our friends have special needs, they can still see and hear with their hearts. With them I, being completely healthy, get so much positive energy that I get the feeling that I can move mountains. Among my photo projects – ‘Maps of Fate,’ ‘Heroes – Old-timers of Ukraine,’ and ‘Hospice’ there is place for ‘Faith and Light.’”
Do you have any other projects?
“I am currently working on the creation of social Internet project ‘You are Your Country.’ This will be a blog of positive information. I plan to bring together photographers, directors, journalists, writers, and art critics, who will produce information products of different types. Ordinary Ukrainians, who succeeded thanks to their own effort and intelligence, should become models for the whole country. The blog will be designed to help everyone who will visit it to understand that Ukraine starts with him.”
What do you want to convey through your photos?
“I try to evoke emotions in people through the internal state of the characters in my photos and the reflection of the beauty of nature. I photograph everything that moves and try to capture interesting moments. If before photograph was only a hobby for me, now, like in Bon Jovi’s song, ‘it’s my LIFE.’ I do a lot for self development because I want my photographs to stand out from the great mass of other photos in a couple of years from now.”
Do you know about the photo contest organized by The Day each year?
“I learned about the photo contest from my father. Since then I closely watch it but so far I haven’t dared to participate in it. There is one thing I know for myself: you can’t get on top of the mountain from up high, you have to start from the lowest point and get there gradually. That’s why I am determined to work diligently.”