FROM A DISTANCE
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTONIS GIAKOUMAKIS
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.
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.
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."
More generally speaking, tell us when and how you started getting interested in photography?
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!
Do you have a favourite quote that resonates with you the most?
There is a phrase from the biggest Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis: “You have your brush, you have the colors, you paint the paradise, and get inside."
Where do you find your inspiration?
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.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers?
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!
Where is your favorite place to shoot?
Near the sea, I love the sea...I was born near the sea in Chania.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
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.
What equipment do you prefer to use? Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography?
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.
What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer?
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...
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
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!
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Many of my projects are in the process of being renewed. That makes me creative.
I want to publish one more photo book (in addition to the 3 photo books I have already published) that will contain some 'small' projects that I have, but emphasizing on the texts that will accompany the photographs, which of course will remain the main subject.
But all this depend on the conditions...The main issue is to be healthy!
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…”
...I like to see photos while listening to music! The most essential is to remain a father of two kids and grandfather of three grandchildren. It is important for me to find the time and a way to feel close to them!