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George Kolbaia | Oli's interviews
author :Oli Kvateladze

Tell me, how did you, an economics student, develop an interest in photography and what gives you the most pleasure in your work?

I first studied economics in Milan. At some point I realized after lectures I thought about the subjects I was studying at the university. When exploring photography, at first it was a technical challenge, I tried a lot of things, exploring what worked. In this process, I realized it gave me great pleasure, then I returned to Georgia and from that period I actively started shooting.

As for what gives me the most pleasure, probably the fact that I am not only focused on the result and no matter how long the work process is, it is of great importance to me.

What attracts you in the working process, what is the most frequent subject in your photos? Tell us about the circumstances in which you work, are those spontaneous or planned scenarios?

I am mostly interested in people because of their work or personalities. Lately, I am more involve with documentary photography. I was actively involved in the protests against the Namakhvani Hydropower plant, I stayed there and started working on a short film. As I was taking photos, I saw something completely different in the process, I liked it very much and realised that an absolutely different approach is needed.

I liked working in the field of documentary photography so much that after I went to Chiatura, I traveled, met locals and I took photos all the time. In these photographs, too, the main focus is on people, although due to the specifics, the environment also turned out to be very important.

Determining the nature of the process, whether planned or spontaneous, depends on the subject matter I am working on. When I work on a social topic, first I do a substantial research, go location scouting, talk to the locals and then start shooting.

You mentioned the Namokhvan Poweplant, I wonder when you work on the social issues, what is your role and interest as a photographer in this case?

First of all, it is an opportunity for me to work and think about these social issues. The important thing is that you are right in the middle of the action and can see the fact much clearer. The starting point is to study and understand the topic in depth, then comes the visual part. When you come in close contact with the locals, you look at the issue differently and these experiences dictate what to shoot and how to do it. On the other hand, I think that the voice of a significant part of the society is not heard. I have no illusions that I will go, shoot and tomorrow or the day after something will definitely change, however, I think that even after some time it will be material which any researcher can base their work on.


Was it challenging to study in one field so different to photography and then work in another, where you had relatively less knowledge and experience in?

It was challenging in terms of building networks and relationships; it is especially difficult to communicate when you come from my background, you do not know anyone and if you have a question you can not ask anyone, because no one around you has any idea about it. Even today, if I had the opportunity, I would gladly work with any of my favorite photographers and gather new information, unfortunately we don’t have this luxury in Georgia.