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.

Let’s talk about the online masterclasses and books that have helped you form your visual language.

Books are a great resource, Ansel Adams's books are an extraordinary literary material that focus on almost every important detail. In order to improve on the technical skills, I attend the online masterclasses and get maximum information.

Today, in the modern world, of course, we do not suffer from a lack of information, but it is very important to have all the information, is how you navigate in it.

You mainly work in Black&White photography, why so?

I work in colour too, but when I started shooting, i was shooting in B&W and it feels more familiar to me. There are times when I need a color and use it, but when it is not the main focus, then I prefer to work in black and white.

Tell us about the flower series on view at the gallery, when did you start working on it and what was the object of your observation in that period?

I was working on a flower series in 2018. In a studio setting, I took photos of flowers I found along the way, observing how the object interacted with light and water in an artificially created environment

What is the source of inspiration for you and what projects are you working on now?

The sources of inspiration come from movies, literature, videos. As for projects, I am working on right now, these are commercial commissions, sometimes I work with clothing brands. Apart from this, I have series I work on continuously. I recently moved to my own studio and it helps me a lot in.

Do you work in any other field besides photography?

In addition to photography, I am very interested in film, sometimes I work on the sets, as an assistant director or cameraman. I was supposed to go to Berlin this August to shoot a short film as the director's first assistant, but unfortunately I turned out to be a bona fide citizen, I got the Sinovac vaccine that is not recognized in Germany and now I cannot go.


How do you see the development of photography in the modern world?


In my opinion, the technical aspect is very important and is constantly evolving, but more important than that is the role photography serves. I do not know what significance photography can acquire in the future, it will probably develop with hand in hand with the digital technologies. What photography has is more than enough today, it has its own missing and can honestly accomplish it.

What are your plans for the future?

Depends on what plans Covid has ... I do not know, from the current perspective, I would gladly go to London and work with photographers who I like very much. I have been studying film directing for about a year and a half now and in the future I want to try myself as a cameraman.


George Kolbaia (born 1993, Zugdidi) is a young self-taught photographer who studied economics in Milan in 2012-2015.

An economist by profession, he found himself working in photography, constantly researching and experimenting. George's photographs mirror the everyday surroundings, often boldly criticizing current political and social realities. Daily life is realistically depicted without beautifying and touching up. It is interesting to see his vision in the genre of portraiture, how he clearly expresses the individual nature and emotions of people in focus.

Oli Kvateladze (born 1997, Tbilisi) is a young art historic. Since 2017 she has been studying at Shota Rustaveli State University of Theater and Film. The focus of his research is contemporary Georgian art. She is also interested in researching art institutions and has completed an internship at the Tbilisi Museums Association. Today Ollie is an intern at our gallery.

George's artworks available at our gallery: