August 31, 2020
FROM A DISTANCE
Photography by Antonis Giakoumakis
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Antonis Giakoumakis was born and raised in Chania, Crete and now resides in Chalandri, Attica. He has been, in his own words, "quite absorbed" by photography since 2012. Photography for Antonis is creation, communication, and storytelling. It is about not wanting to forget that moment, seeing pictures in spaces...moving, listening and observing. It may not be objective, but it can be a constant reminder that the world is not what we see. He is actively involved in several photography groups where he has learned and still continues to learn, also attends many seminars and participates in group exhibitions and competitions with many distinctions.
Antonis shared with us a recent photo project he calls "FROM A DISTANCE", which has also been published in a photo book. In this interview, Antonis talks to us about his project and about the evolution of his photographic process in general.
"Freedom is to be able to have a distance from others."
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTONIS GIAKOUMAKIS
TPL: Antonis, for your feature you sent us your photo project FROM A DISTANCE. Tell us more about your project, what you were thinking about, and how you approached putting it together.
AG: Photography is for me all the things that I do not want to forget in the moment I see them, in the space where I am found, I move, I listen and I observe. It cannot be objective, but it can be a constant reminder that the world is not what we see. It is creation, communication, a narrative.
In other words, it is the representation of a truth, a fact that you are aware of at the moment of the click. A reality of your own that you feel the need to share with other people. A reality that can be different for someone else…
This series of my photographs, which has also been captured in a photographic book, is nothing more than an attempt to approach human moments that most often take place subconsciously. An effort that continues. Observing people from a distance, I feel that I am distancing myself and that I am becoming more objective, more free!
The large horizon, the most complete picture of the space, creates an incomparable sense of harmony and form…a calm. So, many times you get the feeling of changing time with leaps into the past or the future.
The power of photography for me lies in symmetry, clarity and austerity in order to create emotions in its viewing, narratives reminiscent of music and poems we have heard or read. To be able to highlight the experiences of the photographer to bring to the surface his memories, because photography is their 'recorder'.
I don't believe and I don't try to 'make' a concept with my photos, I am more interested in creating an atmosphere which, if it comes out charged, then the essence of the photo has many chances for the viewer to appear with the ultimate goal, to be collected. Too often I go back to the same places where I have been before and take pictures again and again, in an attempt to capture the 'ideal' atmosphere I would like and that may be different each time as it depends on the emotional and my mental state that I am in the specific time, as well as the given scene that fleetingly passes before my eyes.
So, I try to approach my subject in an abstract way, putting as little information as possible in the composition of the frame isolating only the essential, with the greatest possible objectivity, so as to bring the human to the forefront, knowing that many times this may be… an illusion! Friedrich Nietzsche emphasizes that "Freedom is to be able to have a distance from others."
TPL: Generally speaking, when did you start getting interested in photography?
AG: I remember from a young age taking pictures, using my cousin's Leica, particularly on school excursions. But essentially, I started after my retirement in 2012. You see, my career didn't give me much personal time!
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
AG: I think from life itself in all its manifestations. From humans and their environment...urban, provincial, landscape. By abandoning, absence, or by a street scene. I am inspired by an image where human presence is implied.
I often think that photography is an inner need to express our feelings and relive images that often pass cinematically through our eyes or that are presented to us by chance suddenly. Using a superlative tone... to trap the time and to pass into immortality.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
AG: Among the many great photographers, I consider André Kertész to be the teacher of photography. The photographer who with his lens showed the value of the insignificant. He photographed for more than half a century in Hungary, Paris and New York, creating some of the simplest and most poetically fascinating images ever made.
André Kertész used to say: “I express my feeling at a given moment. Not what I see but what I feel!
And of course the great Constantine Manos, the Greek photographer of ordinary people!
TPL: Where is your favorite place to photograph?
AG: Near the sea, I love the sea...I was born near the sea in Chania.
TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
AG: All things in life evolve day by day. The maturity of the eye makes me freer and more infiltrating, I think. To some extent this is due to the fact that I am seeing, almost every day, a lot of photos of 'classic' or newer photographers and I am 'reading' them with more attention.
But my frame...with its geometries and with a minimalist approach...remains the same.
TPL: What equipment do you prefer to use? Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography?
AG: I have a DSLR, I have a mirrorless, I have a mobile but I use my heart and my eyes, I don't need equipment to express myself, my emotions.
TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer?
AG: Love for the art of photography, love for people, the environment. To walk around in things, to be interested and concerned about what is happening around you... and strong legs!
I am not so good at giving advice in general, I believe everyone must find the path to art by themselves. It is never too late! You need to know, everything your eyes are seeing is not always what it looks like. The world is not what we see! It is the indefinable and unclear that leads us to a personal approach, trying to analyze it, without succeeding every time! But it must be a continuous path...
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
AG: I love music, I played the guitar, I like poetry and painting. My son is also a musician, and my wife is a painter. Art has always had a place in my heart!