Saturday, 29 September 2012

Charalampos Kydonakis

Rethymnon, Greece

You have quite a large and diverse body of work. At the same time you work full-time as an architect. How do you do your time managing?

I think that the diversity in my photos comes from the fact that I don’t know what I‘m searching for exactly, or what I try to tell through my photos. Maybe someday I’ll find out, maybe not. If I don’t find out, it probably will keep me moving, I guess.
When it comes to my work as an architect I’m lucky my working hours leave me free time in the afternoons. That way I have time to go about shooting photos myself or to search for other people’s work on the Internet.

What do you like most about using flashlights?

I like to be able to create my own light and be somehow independent from the existing lighting sources each time. The flash helps me to achieve this. I guess that when I point the flash at the subject of the photo I want to emphasize and bring the subject one level up from a darker or a non-interesting background.

Why “Dirty Harry”?

Harry is a shortcut in Greek of Charalampos, my full name. Dirty because I like dirty photos.

Selected artists contribute to your blog. How did the collaborations come about?

When I have free time I search for photos of other people in the Internet and when I see something interesting I feature it in my blog. It helps me to come back to these photos whenever I want to see them again.  And if anyone else is interested, they can search the blog to see photos that I find inspiring as well.

Would you consider yourself a “photograph hunter” or do you just happen to find the situations you capture in your images?

I always carry a camera with me. There are times that I go out on purpose to shoot photos, there are other times that I haven’t planned a photo walk, but I come across something going on and I just happen to be around.

Which of your projects would you say is your favourite one? Why?

I don’t know. All the subjects attract me. It always depends on the mood that I’m in. When it’s summer I prefer to shoot on the beach. When I want more action and I want to take pictures of people, I mostly shoot photos in the night. When I’m calmer, I like to search for landscapes, or urban details.

Is there an artist whose work you admire particularly?

My favourite photographers are Weegee, D. Arbus, A. Sander, G. Winogrand and M. Parr. Apart from photography, I love to watch the movie masterpieces of S. Peckinpah, A. Kurosawa and L. Bunuel.

Do you like silent movies? What do you say about new silent movies like “The Artist”?

I enjoy watching silent movies like the ones of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton very much. I love the fact that they speak through images, which mostly are accompanied by music. They show visual elements and don’t use words to tell stories, as it, in my opinion, happens with thousands of boring contemporary films. For me, photography and cinema ought to speak through images in the first place. Texts about photos and endless speeches in and about films are not so important for my taste. I saw the “Artist” last Christmas. The truth is that I slept during the first part of the movie - I went to see it after an 8 hours journey in a car back from Bulgaria. But I was awake for the second part and I liked it. I want to see it again at some point.

Have you been traveling lately? Whereto?

I just came home from a 10-day trip to Stockholm. 5 months before I went to Berlin and 9 months before I was in Bulgaria. I think I’m lucky to have moments with my family and friends in my life and to be able to go about the journeys that I‘ve go on to during the past years. I hope I’ll be able to keep on travelling in the future.

Do you have any objective you’d like to accomplish until the end of the year?

I think a new trip is the most optimistic scenario. If Greece hasn’t sunk yet with all the economic pressure my country has fallen in, of course. We’ll see.

Lights, Camera, Action. Take a look at his work!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Joseph Lee

Évora, Portugal

Similar to your series "Silêncio" a lot of your pictures have some sort of quietness to them, maybe even a kind of balance. Are you looking to portray such an atmosphere?

Yes. If I had to point out a reason for it, I would say that it comes down to personal taste. The pictures that fascinate me the most are usually the ones that have a special mystique, the ones that make me wonder what was happening at that given moment and what kind of place is portrayed on the canvas. I feel that the best way to feel a connection towards the picture is if you keep a certain simplicity, it sort of invites the viewer to complete the photograph, to create a story.

If I understood correctly, you're living in Portugal for your university studies. Did this change of country/city fuel your inspiration for photography?

I have been living in Portugal since I was a kid, so the change in country didn´t really happen for my studies. The city however did. Moving to a city like Évora has had a huge impact on my life. It is a beautiful town, one of the oldest in Europe, but its also quite small comparing to Lisbon. This difference in size was perhaps the biggest change for me. Being able to move around town by foot, never constrained by the need of catching the subway or a bus, never being stuck in traffic, gives me a big sense of freedom. And of course, when you are on your feet, not only is it easier to grab your camera from the backpack and take a few pictures, you're also more inclined to truly pay attention to your surroundings, giving you better subjects to photograph. At least, that's what it does for me.

Do you ever see effects of studying architecture on your photographic work?

When I started my studies I was hugely motivated towards visiting new and interesting places and I always took a small point-and-shoot digital camera, to try and capture the works (architectural) that inspired me. This played a major role in my interest for photography, as I increasingly tried to take better pictures. At the same time, I started hanging around Flickr, and overall, I started taking photography seriously.
However, as I matured as a photographer, my pictures have also changed. In a way, I have grown bored of the typical "cliché" architecture photographs, which you would typically find in a specialty magazine. Now I just take that kind of pictures for university related work.

Which camera(s) do you prefer to use currently?

I have a faithful companion, the Canon AE-1, which is by far the camera I use the most. I use it almost exclusively with a 1.8 50mm lens, since I keep forgetting to bring the 28mm in my bag. I also use a digital Sony point-and-shoot when I'm not taking the aesthetic part of photography too serious.  
I also own a Leica IIIf and a Pentax Spotmatic, but I'm yet to use them, as they need a bit of repair.

In the description to your project "Youth" you write about "a search for the new" and about autodidactic learning. What role did these points play for you personally?

Although these sound like vague concepts they played a big part in my life in the last few years. I don't really believe that an art related subject, such as Photography (or Architecture for that matter), can be completely taught, only stimulated. By acknowledging this I try to surround myself with people who share the same interests as me. As an architecture student this is easy to achieve, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately I can't say the same about photography, so I usually turn to the internet (flickr, blogs, etc). Looking at other people's work, quality work, is very motivational. It helps me realize how much I can improve, how much I can learn.

Are you also an autodidact as a photographer? Or did or do you visit courses/tutorials?

Yes, at least that´s how I see myself. The very basics, such as the difference between having a 1.8 or a 22 aperture, were probably learned between a few magazines, my father and the internet. I learned these before I bought my first camera, so by the time I got it I knew how it worked without having to read the instructions. That's what it really was, an instruction manual. It helped me work with the camera, but didn't help that much towards taking good pictures.
When I was a kid I was offered a "Your First Camera" book, which had all these things about composition and what kind of light you should or should not photograph in. I never read those parts, probably never will. I guess I just trust myself to learn through experience. If it sucks you're doing it wrong, if it´s awesome something must be right.
I believe this is the main reason why I won´t be choosing "Introduction to Photography" as one of my optional classes next semester, I'm afraid that too much theory will bore me to death.

It seemed to me that capturing individuality in portraits is important to you. True?

I guess that in some way, all portraits capture individuality. That being obvious, I really do try to take portraits when the subject is completely at ease. The way I do this is by not having "photo-shoots". Instead I just hang around with the camera in my hands or strapped to the shoulder, and if I see something I like, if the light is good, it the "mood" feels right, I point the camera and release the shutter. If I'm too slow I might ask for the person to hold still for a second or two, but that´s it.

What have you been doing this summer? 

To be honest, not much. For the last couple of years I've found myself so exhausted from my course that by the end of the second semester I can't even think straight. I always plan to do something useful such as work on my portfolio, enter in some competitions and so on, but I always fail miserably.
So this Summer, once again, I've been a bit of a sloth.
Apart from spending a couple of days at the beach I had the opportunity to travel to the north of Portugal, where I stayed at a beautiful old house, surrounded by nothing but hills and eucalyptus. While I was there, we visited quite a few towns, most of them with some amazing landmarks, such as the Roman bridge of Ponte de Lima or the fortification of Valença. I also managed to check out a few places in Spain, so I can count myself lucky.

Are you about to embark in or already working on any new projects you'd like to share here?

I've been wanting to do something related to the castle and fortification heritage in Portugal for a very long time, but it’s still very conceptual at this stage.

If you were to change the city/country again, where would you go?

If I had to choose a different city in Portugal to live in, apart from those where I've lived before, I'd definitely choose Porto. Every time I go there I fall in love with it. It’s a beautiful city, full of life and from a cultural point of view, its very interesting.
As for a different city in another country ... I'd love to live in NY for a few months. I say a few months because I'm not sure if I could handle living there for a long period, but I would definitely give it a try.

How much architecture do you spot in his pictures? Take a look at his work!