For today’s interview we travel to Vilnius – the capital city of Lithuania – where 29 year-old native, Tadao Cern tells me his story of inspiration turned into action. Two years ago, after finishing his Master’s degree in architecture, Tadao decided to try something completely new. That ‘something new’ turned out to be wedding photography. A year later, he opened his own studio in Vilnius, and today he embodies just how much blind faith and a fearless life-change can really pay off.
Although you probably haven’t attended a wedding in Lithuania (or traveled there, for that matter), chances are you’ve already heard of Tadao Cern, and may not even know it. Tadao is the man behind the recent photo-gone-viral portrait of Van Gogh. He also gained a bit of notoriety with his photo project entitled ‘Blow Job,’ featuring portraits of people whose faces are hilariously distorted by high-speed fans.
Photography has helped me learn that I can do more than one thing as a career. Today, new technologies can help you learn and get experience much faster than 10 or 20 years ago. Equipment is getting more affordable and something that you used to call a hobby, can one day become your main job. Or better still – one of your many jobs!
For my photography work, I use a medium format film camera and a few full-frame DSLR’s. Since I’ve tried so many cameras and all sorts of lenses, I can confidently say that brand names, millimeters and other things don’t make any difference if you don’t have anything to say with your work. And if you do, any equipment will suit your needs. Sometimes it’s actually better to have only one camera with a fixed lens. This helps you to stay focused on subject, composition, light and your idea rather than wait for a miracle to be produced by a super bright lens and a magic camera.
On Photoshop & Lightroom:
For ‘Blow Job’ I used Lightroom as my main program and Photoshop for resizing and sharpening. Van Gogh is a totally different story. I adjusted colors, exposure and some details in Lightroom and then the main work was done in Photoshop. Since the image is a composition of many details and shots, Photoshop was perfect for that.
My favorite and most powerful tool in Photoshop is curves, because it is the main tool I use to achieve feeling or mood in any image. People often ask me how I achieve those colors in my wedding photos or other projects, and my response is “learn to use curves and you’ll be able to do whatever you want.”
On Van Gogh:
The Van Gogh idea came spontaneously. I saw my friend who has ginger hair and beard, and I thought it would be interesting to mimic a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh using photography. My friend liked the idea and a week later we met in my studio. After some preparations, we made a few shots and I spent a day editing the final image before posting it on the Internet.
My model didn’t really look anything like the guy in my final image. A stylist and I had to set everything up to match the painting and then I shot a lot of additional details. The post-production process consisted of putting everything in one place, stretching, painting, drawing, cloning, etc. It was almost the same as painting a new image, only using new technologies.
My inspiration for that piece was just to have some fun. I did it for myself because I was curious to see the result – how would a painting transform into a photo? A day after I posted it, it went viral, and now this image has taken on a life of its own!
I find it funny that a lot of people are confused by the picture. Some people ask me if there’s really a guy that looks just like Vincent Van Gogh. Some don’t believe that it’s a photo at all. And some people actually thought that I really took a picture of the famous painter.
After getting so much positive feedback about Van Gogh, I’ve stared thinking about new images, so we should see something new in the near future!