We met Ray… Oh, wait, we haven’t actually met him – yet! We discovered his Instagram account called @KaunasInMyColours a couple of weeks ago, pretty much right after it was launched. The account has grown to more than 3,500 followers since the beginning of August, with only 18 posts so far (all of them are great). We couldn’t help but message the owner and ask the Latvian photographer who’s now a resident of Kaunas – and a very kaunastic one – a few questions. Here goes.
Hi Ray! First of all, we’d like to find out what made you move to Kaunas – and when did it happen? It’s always interesting to hear the backstories of new residents of our city.
In short, first I fell in love with an organisation, then I fell in love with a girl, then I fell in love with the city. In the end, I fell in love with a job!
I joined an organisation ESN Riga (Erasmus Student Network Riga) a few years ago. It’s international and also very active in Lithuania and Kaunas. Thanks to the organisation, I was organised a student trip to Kaunas, where I met a local girl with whom I fell in love with instantly. After visiting her a few times, I fell in love with the city, and when I started moving here, I fell in love with the job! So you could say Kaunas is my city of love, and that brought me here.
How did your Places in Colours project start – we’ve noticed a Riga account, too? How is it different from other accounts of about cities? We do see the visual difference – the colours are unique! Where does it come from, though?
I used to walk around Riga and take pictures, but they never ended up anywhere, until five years ago someone saw pictures on my phone and started to point out that they are really beautiful. I didn’t want to flood my personal Instagram with all the Riga pictures I wanted to share, so the @RigaInMyColours Instagram was born.
I started exploring Riga and sharing my experiences with my few followers. At the very start it was me just posting my own pictures, but once it started to get bigger, people began tagging me in their pictures and started to ask me to share theirs.
I kept only my own images, to the point that I wasn’t able to go out and take them because of the weather/studies/sickness and so on. I was running low on my stock, so I thought to myself: “actually, why not? Why not help myself by helping others?”. And, since then, I also started to share pictures of others.
The difference between other profiles about cities and my project is that it contains a lot of original content from me and my close friends. We (me and friends who get involved in my project from time to time) are also trying to be a bit more than an Instagram account by giving some value to the city and our followers! Like an app with all the information offline about Riga for locals and travellers (it was taken off from the Appstore, since I didn’t have the time to update for GDPR).
We’ve promoted charity, events in the city, local businesses and services, we’ve done a lot of giveaways with local companies, restaurants and even with AirBaltic! We do our best to provide what we promise as good as we can and we try to help.
RigaInMyColours nowadays features a lot of local talent, to show the people the amazing photographers in Riga and their works (@BalticsInMyColours account contributes to that cause, too). We read all the comments, reply as good as we can, and I do the same to direct messages! I’ve had countless people write me questions about events and the city and I do my best to find the information and deliver it.
And when I moved to Kaunas, I thought, why don’t I create a new account and share my experiences of me exploring Kaunas?
Your Kaunas account is still quite fresh but has almost 4,000 followers. Wow! Do you have a tip to share?
I’ve grown quite a lot in photography from the day when I started. By helping with social media management for some companies as a freelancer, I’ve also learnt some tips and tricks.
I would say KaunasInMyColours has managed to grow quite a lot because of the quality content that I try to provide from my exploration of the city. While the city is new and beautiful to me, the pictures I make spread my excitement about the city once I share them with the followers. I also think it helps a lot that I ask people their suggestions and opinions, and try to follow them up. After all, I am new to this city, and people want to share their opinion and be heard! (If anyone of the people who suggested me anything is reading this, then thank you, I'm slowly following up with all the suggestions).
So, my tip is just to love and share what you do, and people will follow and do the same. Also to be genuine, interested and respectful to the people interacting with the accounts and to the authors of pictures, like always crediting the actual authors of the image.
For now, most of the pictures on the account are mine, but I recently got to the point where people started to send me their photos and ask for reposts. In the nearest future, the majority of the images will stay made only by me, and I will stick with the principle of rare reposts, to keep the quality. Also, if I’d repost a lot of pictures, I would have nowhere to post my own!
What other blogs or magazines do you tend to look for advice at when travelling? Is it mostly tips by fellow travellers or other sources of information?
I rarely look for information; actually, you could say it comes to me! Thanks to my days in ESN organisation, I met a lot of international people and made a lot of friends. So, when I have to go somewhere, I just check if I know someone from the country or the city I'm going to and I chat them up. I either get suggestions, or I get to meet the people when I arrive, and they take me to the most random and coolest places!
If I don’t know anyone, then I just google and check some YouTube videos...
What places in Kaunas have already become your favourite – could you name a favourite bar, restaurant, shop, street, building..?
I love all the streets, especially the ones that are going up or downhill!
I have a short list of bars that I should visit, but so far I’ve visited just too few to call any bar a favourite.
For restaurants, I can surely say that my favourite so far is Kuhne! Their pulled pork burgers are amazing, and they hit the spot just right!
Favourite shop? I'm not a shopping type of a guy, but, for groceries, I've fallen in love with Lidl since they sell all kinds of exciting new foods & honey cake precisely the way I like it!
Other than that, I love visiting places that sell cameras and lenses, as, after all, I am more or less a photographer.
Favourite building position on my list is also still vacant.
At what time of the day is Kaunas the most beautiful for you? Does your taste coincide with that of your followers – do they mostly like pictures from that time of the day?
From the early morning till the nightfall, Kaunas is beautiful all the time. But, of course, for a photographer, one of the best time of the day for me is the sunset and dawn time. When the buildings and streets are painted in one colour, and the skies are filled in with multiple other colours.
I would say my follower taste is the love of Kaunas, so it most certainly does coincide!
I’m thankful to all my followers and their support. I hope I’ll manage to show this city as best as it’s possible, and I hope I’ll be able also to share my excitement of it and meet a lot of new people through my little project.
Right back at ya!