Little Box conversation 


Tetyana Bunyak

Tetyana, please tell us about yourself. 

I live in the city of Lviv in Ukraine. I became interested in street photography about eight years ago. It’s hard to say what I find more fascinating – taking pictures myself or looking through other photographers’ work. Over the last two years I have bought a lot of photo-books as it’s not only the photos that interest me, but also the way they are picked for the series. 

What drew you to street photography and why is it special to you?

It all started with travelling. Almost from the very beginning I started to realize that shooting life around famous sights is much more captivating than shooting those sights themselves. That’s how in no time I shifted from trivial travel photography to street. Taking pictures of people’s lives turned out to be much more interesting than photographing architecture or nature. For me personally the importance of street photography lies in a weird paradox: “I’m photographing everyday life commonness and by doing so, I’m escaping from everyday life commonness”.

You live in Lviv in Ukraine - tell us what is it like to photograph there?

Lviv is a great find for a street photographer. This city is rich in events and people. Also, there is something to suit every taste. There are historical buildings in the downtown area and just a short walk from downtown you’ll find yourself in neighborhoods with small privately-owned houses. Those neighborhoods feel more like a village, not a city. If you move even further out, you’ll see areas where dull soviet architecture is mixed with newly built apartment complexes. In addition to this, Lviv is a big city (almost one million people) which in comparison with mega-cities is quite provincial. I find this very charming. And the most important thing is that people here usually do not pay attention to someone with a camera or, if they do, they are friendly and welcoming.

Tell us a little about your photographic ‘style’ and what you want to convey to the viewer through your style?

I prefer reportage style. It is important for me, that each image captures action, emotion, indications of time, culture and territory. Most probably that’s why I adore the work of Magnum photographers.  

Do you have any favourite situations or subjects you like to photograph?

Crowds are my favourite environments to take pictures in. Especially when there are some interesting events going on. Interactions between people in a crowd are intense. You can always see unique emotions and gestures. I usually just dissolve into a crowd. Contemplation becomes satisfaction. Everything that I hear (conversations, traffic noise, music out from nowhere) and also scents create an illusion of an additional dimension in space. I guess, my brain produces extra endorphins in such situations. That’s how photography becomes an addiction for me. 

Do you get to travel much and where are your favourite places in the world to photograph?

Yes, I enjoy travelling a lot. Before lockdown I was traveling around 5-6 times a year. The thing about traveling is that there are new surroundings and impressions. Having the chance to photograph for the whole week is equally important. My favorite destination is India with its bright colors, unusual culture and lots of friendly people.

What is your approach on the streets? Do you like to wait in a particular location or do you prefer to actively seek out particular situations?

No, I don’t like to wait on the streets. “Ambush hunting” is not for me. I’m moving all the time to see more. Even if I decide to stop at some event, I’m still moving inside it and shooting from different sides and angles.

Choose a favourite street photograph (of yours) and tell us why it is your favourite.

There are tens of photos which I really like. Those have a trail of personal emotions and memories which are not seen by the viewer. I’ll tell you a story of this picture from the funeral. It was my husband’s sister’s funeral. I wasn’t going to shoot anything there, but then I saw that weirdly shaped rope. It looked like a human silhouette sliding down into a tomb. I couldn’t resist the temptation to take my camera out. Also, the dog went into the picture at the right moment. And I thought “Congrats, you just shot the moment of reincarnation”.

Do you have any projects you are currently working on and if so, can you tell us a little about them?

Any project requires lots of work. For me photography is more about pleasure and leisure. Or maybe, I’m just lazy! But actually I have one idea regarding Lviv. Have you ever noticed how boring the pictures published in travel guides are? I want to make a Lviv travel guide with a focus on street photography. I was thinking about using both pictures – first will be regular boring photos of a famous sight and the second will show what a street photographer can do to it. 

Tell us the most important thing you have learned from being a street photographer?

I don’t pretend that my photos will become crucial for people or history as it happened with works of classics of photography. On the other hand, life produces an unlimited number of moments in the four dimensional space of our planet. As a photographer I can appropriate a tiny part of all these moments and this makes me happy.

You can see more of Tetyana's work on her instagram account @tanakika