There aren’t many people who can say that they live in their dream home, but Gaile Juknyte (@7vensuns)can. This avid traveler followed her desire to explore the world as early as she could and never looked back. Two and half years ago, she settled down in Bali and found her ideal source of inspiration there. Whether she captures the surrounding nature or people, her work as a photographer is a true invitation to stop and stare at the world.

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself? How old are you, and where are you from?

I’m 28 years old, and I’m from Lithuania, but I left the country when I was 18. I guess you could say I’ve lived abroad most of my adult life! I studied photography in London and lived there for eight years before moving to Bali.

What brought you to Bali? Besides dreamy sceneries, of course!

I wanted to pursue my artistic interests and leave London and city life. Coming here is a huge accomplishment for me, it means that I managed to make Bali my dream home for the past two and a half years. It took me some time, but I made it, and I’m super happy!

You were only 18 when you decided to move abroad, what motivated your decision?

Back when I was in Lithuania, I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to follow the stereotypical safe and secure lifestyle that society somehow forces us to follow. No offense to the choices of other people. For instance, my dad always dreamed of me becoming a lawyer. But I‘ve just always wanted to do what I want, and most importantly, to do what I like. With this in mind, I started looking into opportunities to study art, which are scarce, theoric, and don’t have the best reputation in Lithuania. Sadly, many people who choose the artistic path end up getting a side hustle to pay their bills. I befriended a girl online, through an online gallery, and she told me about the art program she was part of in London at Middlesex University. I ended up studying there for three years.

Did you know Bali before you arrived there?

Not really, I only knew a few people from Social Media. I visited Bali for the first time in 2017 for about two weeks to finish a four-month trip throughout Southeast Asia, so I knew what to expect in terms of landscapes. And I knew how heart-warming witnessing its beauty would be.

 

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Une publication partagée par Gaile Juk | Creative (@7vensuns)

What are your three favorite places to capture in Bali, and why?

Wow! Honestly, there are so many! I think one of the things that make Bali so great is the diversity of its areas. There’s this place called Sidemen, in central Bali, where the Agung volcano is, and there are many ways to access it. If you go there at sunrise or sunset, you can witness some very poetic moments, with the fog hovering around the rice fields and the sun piping through the trees. Whenever I need inspiration and a reminder of why I love Bali, I go there for a few days. It’s a peaceful place to be surrounded by nature and a great way to see how Balinese people live. This place never stops to amaze me.

My second favorite place would have to be Ubud. I lived there for a year and a half. Ubud is full of waterfalls, and it has a fascinating jungle too. This place also happens to be a cultural center with countless temples: it’s a very spiritual area.

My number three is Uluwatu, in the south of Bali, where all the turquoise water beaches are. It also has a lot of cliffs, which give it an adventurous vibe. The flora is colorful there, and some people say that the landscapes remind them of Greece.

 

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Une publication partagée par Gaile Juk | Creative (@7vensuns)

People might know you as @7vensuns. Could you break down the meaning of your Instagram handle for us?

It’s a funny story because it is pretty random, but people come to me and ask if I was inspired by Game of Thrones! The truth is that I created my photography account on Facebook back when I was still living in Lithuania, and I just had to find a name for it. I would say that seven is my magic number. As cliché as it might sound, it has several meanings to me. I also really enjoy capturing the sun in my photos, I’m fascinated by its brightness and uplifting vibe. So for me, the name “seven suns” was just a way to combine my two favorite things. But the proper spelling was already taken by a matcha coffee shop in Thailand, so I ended up going with @7vensuns!

In your opinion, what makes a photo memorable?

From a practical perspective, I think it’s really about the light. All the pictures I took that people enjoyed were photos for which I had to beat the crowds and be on the spot super early and play with the lights. I think people are attracted to warmth and light. If the subject is people, I think the overall feeling of the photo is what makes it memorable. As a photographer, you have to avoid imitation and let your subject be as natural as it is.

What is your take on the editing process? How has your view evolved on this matter over the years?

That’s an interesting question because I gave the editing process a lot of thought lately. My perspective changed so much over the years. A few years back, I traveled around South and Central America and produced some of my best photos there, which was not that hard because it’s full of breathtaking sceneries! Following that trip, I gained a lot of recognition for my pictures. I went back to London and still had so much content to exploit. I remember looking at this photo I took in Nicaragua of a fire pit still burning on a beach at sunrise. It was a quick shot, pretty blank, nothing happening there, but I edited it so much that it looks like we’re sitting on the beach at night with a starry sky and this fire burning.

To this day, it’s one of my most sold pictures. At the time, I genuinely enjoyed the process of creating something stunning out of something quite ordinary. The same thing happened with a photo that I took in Nicaragua, where I edited a starry sky, and ended up winning a competition on the platform where I sell my pictures online. The prize was that I got to create my own presets and filters for the platform. As of today, I can say that I edit my photos way less: I do simple corrections and focus more on when to take the right pictures and play with the current conditions so that the shot requires little to no editing, but I still think it’s an interesting part of the process.

 

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Une publication partagée par Gaile Juk | Creative (@7vensuns)

Which type of photography would you say you are the most comfortable doing?

Creatively speaking, I love capturing nature: landscapes, waterfalls, mountain peaks, viewpoints… I love feeling amazed by a place and capturing it for people to see. It’s super fulfilling to experience the world and be able to share it. When it comes to more commercial-related work, I think product photography is the one I’m the most at ease with because it’s easy to work on my own for that kind of mission, so there is a convenient aspect to it.

How do you hope your work as a photographer impacts people?

For me, the most important thing is making people curious. One of the biggest compliments I got was from a random guy I ran into at a concert and told me that he’d been following my work on Instagram for two and a half years and that I inspired him to move to Bali. It was so unexpected and crazy that I just thought to myself « who paid you to tell me this?! ». Sadly enough, Bali is turning more and more into a place where people just go from one spot to another, hoping to snap the perfect Instagram post. Many of them don’t stop to look around or try to understand local communities. For me, having an impact on this would be positive.

 

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Une publication partagée par Gaile Juk | Creative (@7vensuns)

What is your process to connect with the people you photograph?

Most of my portraits and street pictures were taken very spontaneously, but I’d say speaking the local language is convenient, because it’s easier to communicate with people. Being respectful is the most important thing: I always ask people for their permission first. When I do photoshoots that are arranged, I try to introduce my muse or model to a little mood board and meet them before the shooting to connect. It’s a way for me to sense their vibe, see if they’re quiet, shy or if they get tend to feel intimidated. Ultimately as a photographer, the goal is to make people feel comfortable around you because discomfort shows in the pictures.

What are you the most excited about in the future?

I’m sort of stepping into a new industry: Bali inspired me to launch a clothing label specialized in statement pieces. I always had a thing for kimonos and flowy robes in general. They make you feel like you can reinvent yourself. I got the idea about four months after I moved to Bali, and I’m super excited to launch something on my own. I’ve been working with a person who helps me create surface patterns from scratch, so the kimonos will be uniquely designed. This brand is slow fashion and was created with sustainability in mind. It will start with two kimono designs, and I’m hoping to add some hats later.