The Obvious

free hugs in vilnius

Posted in event, important, life, photos, vilnius by theobvious on February 11, 2008

This Saturday the Free Hugs Campaign was brought to Vilnius by Fabrice the fabulous Frenchman. The nice people over at Laimikis brought this to public attention, and they also said they could use some photos. So I grabbed a friend, and more importantly, his camera, and went out to shoot some hugs.

I took close to 300 pictures, out of which about 30 came out presentable. They are all on my Flickr page, and here are three (to make all the numbers match) I especially like:

When I asked Fabrice why he had decided to do this here in Vilnius, he said he had done it twice in Siberia, so Vilnius was bound to be easier. Which is a strange answer, but what do you expect from a guy who gave out hugs to frowning people in furs.

We walked around the two main squares of town, the eleven huggers with their signs and me with my camera, making people laugh, squirm, run away, nudge each other, and swear at us (just a couple times), and experienced the city like never before.

We hugged tourists who spoke different languages, children who looked shyly to their mothers for permission, old people whose eyes shone at being happily addressed by youngsters, salesmen who gave us small sweets and gifts for every hug…

We advertised more than Juan Mann, the inventor of Free Hugs, would probably recommend, but then we live in a much colder climate. So we followed people asking them for hugs, and said time and time again: ‘Come on, it’s absolutely free!’

At some point we stopped for some tea/milk/cake at the Milk Bar, and when we came out, it was already getting dark. So I packed the camera away and took a hug sign. Hugging a stranger is like having an epiphany – intense, and different every time.

And then, for the first time ever, a local newspaper published a photo I took that day, and I realized that it’s all about being there when it happens. This simple effort will bring me so much closer to everything I’ve ever dreamed of. You too, probably.

Thank you Laimikis, and thanks to everyone who did this. Meeting all you guys and watching the things you did was so much inspiration.

Update: my friend Mark has posted almost every picture I shot with his camera here. Check them out, if you like.

13 Responses

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  1. Anna said, on February 12, 2008 at 12:34 am

    I wish that there was a free French kisses campaign.

    On the condition that the kissing group includes a cute old lady to kiss elderly men.

  2. ollka said, on February 12, 2008 at 12:48 am

    So many people said ‘so, when’s the free kisses campaign’ to us that I can’t consider it a fun suggestion anymore. Sorry, mate, hope you still find a way to see kissing old people!

  3. Anna said, on February 12, 2008 at 12:57 am

    It was more about me kissing strangers under 60 than about me seeing old people kissing

    Anyway, there is a lot of ways for me to deal with my kinks)

  4. ollka said, on February 12, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Uh, yeah, I figure:) When shall I see you? Promises is all you give me!

  5. ALF said, on February 12, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Free hugs sounds like so much fun!

  6. Free Hugs in Vilnius: visuals « Laimikis said, on February 12, 2008 at 8:46 am

    […] exhibition in Berlin (where Vilnius street people were also presented), we are glad to present Ollka’s visual report on the […]

  7. ollka said, on February 12, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Yes, ALF! Check out the website to find out more about it.

  8. Vilniaus Meras said, on February 15, 2008 at 11:04 pm


    you should know that according to lithuanian regulations there are no such goods or services which can be provided for free. You need to charge at least 1LTL. If you do not obey this law – you will pay a fine of 5000 euroes.

  9. ollka said, on February 16, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Vilniaus Merui: tiesa sakant, tai ir nebuvo nei prekes, nei paslaugos. Bet jei Jus sutiksime, butinai prasysim uzmoket, kad jau taip norit:)

  10. Vilniaus Meras said, on February 16, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Jūs nelabai supratot. Nesvarbu kaip Jūs tai pavadinsit – svarbu, kaip tai įvardins mokesčių inspekcija.

  11. ollka said, on February 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Jusu humoro jausmas man be galo imponuoja.

  12. Vilniaus Meras said, on February 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Nejuokaukit, viskas dar gerai su tuo.

  13. Jess said, on October 7, 2008 at 6:58 am

    I am Jess and I also like the 3 photos very much. As I would like to write a article about hug and cheek kissing in my blog (no commercial purpose), could I use your photos to show the hug feeling in my blog? :)

    Sorry for my blog is Chinese version, welcome to see one of article translated into English version.

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