Paulius Staniunas is 33 and comes from Lithuania. He's a self-taught photographer who has photographed the Urbanscapes festival in Malaysia, Good Vibes, Future Music Festival Asia, Rockaway Festival, and the Metallica Asia Tour, among many, many others. His collective, All Is Amazing is synonymous with night life, concerts, and revelry in Malaysia and we wanted to find out how it all started.
This is Paul. Paul takes pretty pictures. Paul doesn't call himself an 'influencer'. Be like Paul.
"It started in China actually, when I lived there. I was really passionate about photography and I loved night life, but I knew nothing about photography and nothing about nightlife," he says. He was studying in China in 2009 and saw an ad calling for concert photographers in Beijing. They required one thing: a flash, which of course he didn't have. He eventually bought a flash gun and reapplied for the gig and got it.
“... it was a disaster because I didn't know how to use the flash”
"So I went to photograph (the concert) and it was a disaster because I didn't know how to use the flash, I didn't know what all the buttons mean and the photos were really bad." But they called him again and again and he did that as a side gig for two years before coming to Malaysia on November 13, 2011 where his passion to turn nightlife photography into a career began in ernest.
"Wherever I would go, I would take a taxi and ask the driver 'What's the best club here?' and I would do my research and in the evening I'll take my camera to the club, and speak to the boss and ask if I can photograph here. Most of the time they would let me in and I would shoot in the club, just out of pure passion." That passion led him to more jobs and soon he was asked to photograph Future Music Festival 2012 as an individual. The festival hired 12 photographers separately, but Paul had another idea. He volunteered to coordinate the team and handle delivery of the photographs so that they could cover more ground. And that's where All Is Amazing, the collective, was born.
"All Is Amazing is a team that is comprised of individuals who are strong (talented) in different areas," Paul says. He emphasises to me that the brand, All Is Amazing, always comes first and that the strength of the brand comes from the collective.
The Stories Behind His Photos
His photos always captures a feeling and a sense of movement, characterised by his use of light in the portraits he takes during his escapades as a nightlife photographer. We asked him to pick some photos for us to use in this feature and asked him to tell us a story about each. Here they are in his words.
This one was taken in Mexico when I was photographing an event. It was the Day of the Dead, the famous Mexican festival. This was the signature character of the festival, they dress like the dead walking.
The energy of the vocalist really reflects what Metallica is all about. And the whole stage was really professionally done.
Frangipani, Indiego and Co. Party
These were one of the best parties in KL. Everyone would gather there and there would be no limits or boundaries. It was one of those random nights. I like this photo because of her pose and the light, and she was in the moment, dancing.
Fine Apple party, Frangipani
It was her birthday then, and she was wearing a pineapple cap and I got a pineapple from someone – I don't know why there was a pineapple at the party – and I said to her "Come let's do a cool portrait." So I asked her to lay down on the seat in the club and I stood on top of her. You can see my feet there. I set her down on the sofa because it's very boring when you shoot from the eyeline view so I like to engage people to do something different.
It's The Ship Pre-party, Eva T
This is Eva T, one of the best Malaysian female DJs to this day. I was experimenting with a two flash technique that I was trying to master. As you can see there's one flash behind her and one flash in front of her and they're both synchronised.
This was taken at the second Good Vibes Festival that I photographed. It was the Heineken stage which was usually dedicated to dance and electronic music. This was a friend of mine from Penang and I liked the choker she was wearing and I really liked the attitude that she had in this photo.
Finally, we asked him why he loved photographing nightlife so much and he says it came out of necessity. In China, he used to study in the day, and he could only photograph at night. Similarly when he arrived in Malaysia, he had a day job, and could only take photos at night.
Even though he has found a lot of success through his passion for nightlife photography, that part of his business has slowed while he focuses on bigger festivals and events. He insists that nightlife photography remains close to his heart.
"Nightlife is still my passion because when you look inside the club, and everybody is dancing, having a good time; all the boundaries disappear. Whatever you do in the day time – banker, waitress, bookstore keeper – everyone is equal on the dance floor. I think that's the beauty of it and that's the energy that I really love."
On why he chose All Is Amazing as the name he says:
"I wanted to have a brand name that would be positive and universal. So one day when I grow grumpy, and stop photographing; and I will start selling – I don't know – char kuey teow on the roadside, I can still call it All Is Amazing and feel happy. So whatever I do in my life I will carry this brand and I will feel happy."
You can find Paul at www.allisamazing.com or – more likely – at a festival near you.