Interviews with worldwide photographers www.moments-collective.com
I try to "vibe" with the place or the subject I interact with. In a gloomy big city, I tend to feel the stress of the city. The speed, the melancholy of routine.In a place going for the first time, I feel like an explorer....
Ilias Kormaniotis is a talented street photographer and graduate of the esteemed Leica Academy. Currently immersed in a compelling street project in Mykonos, Ilias skillfully captures bustling tourism, local culture, and intimate human interactions, drawing inspiration from renowned photographers to create captivating visual narratives.
We had the chance to make interview him and learn more about her work.
What drew you to street photography, and how did you get started?
Leica Academy was especially emphasized in Documentary/Street photography by itself. Mr. Spyros Skiadopoulos was a great mentor and passionate about street photography and as a result, it passed down to his students. It's always been an interesting subject for me as well. In a Digital age where every picture either for social media or magazines is done with the purpose of advertisement/promotion (either of a product or ourselves), I find real excitement in something that it's happening realistically in front of me and I have the chance to be a part of it.
Can you describe your creative process when capturing moments on the street? Do you have any particular techniques or strategies that you use?
Usually, it depends on the subject or the location. I try to "vibe" with the place or the subject I interact with. In a gloomy big city, I tend to feel the stress of the city. The speed, the melancholy of routine. In a place going for the first time, I feel like an explorer. In Mykonos I try to blend as a tourist (when I roam the streets) and a local when I'm taking pictures of Greek people in the area.
I usually work from a further perspective of the picture as I get closer. Sometimes I get to "the face" of my subjects. The best weapon is a smile. Kindness. Smile to people around you, and get to know them.
How do you choose the locations and subjects that you photograph, and what do you look for when you're out shooting?
Until this day, I shoot in the area that just happens to be there. I'm looking forward after leaving Mykonos to devote my time and choose the location that is right for my next project. When shooting I look for interesting faces/subjects. If something extraordinary is happening or something common with interesting details. From all master Magnum photographers, I learned to look for geometry and patterns in composition. That is what transforms something common into magnificent.
How do you adapt your style and approach to fit different genres, and which do you find the most fulfilling creatively?
I was into fashion/Portraiture in the past (and still am). The main difference between street and Portraiture lies in time and connection. I hate extreme posing for my models. It's all in between the photographer and the model to find. The connection. Only then a Portrait can manifest in the frame and of course that requires the necessary time and love to achieve. Street on the other hand is like an improv dancing ball. Movement, quick response, freedom.
Recently I tend to find beauty more often in the streets by myself.
You mention being inspired by photographers like Nikos Economopoulos and Joseph Koudelka. What is it about their work that resonates with you, and how do you incorporate their influence into your own photography?
Mr.Economopoulos and Mr.Koudelka have devoted their lives to their craft and that easily can be seen. The deep connection with the subject, the anthropological approach, and the stories left to be told from just one of their pictures are amazing. Like a nail in the chest. The tonality of their pictures (much darker in the case of Mr.Koudelka) and the approach of the subject is just a few of the things I could mention. The upper importance is the composition, with no subjects overlapping with each other. One thing that Mr. Economopoulos is truly a master. Hopefully one day I will become a documentary photographer as well.
What role do you think street photography plays in documenting society and culture, both locally and globally?
If street photography ceases to exist we'll have to rely on Instagram reels and piecemeal (most of the times staged) happy moments. Street photography must provide information. A story must be told. They're many and they're hiding on the streets.
How do you approach the ethical considerations of photographing strangers in public spaces? Are there any principles or guidelines that you follow?
In public spaces, I believe that I have the right to shoot anything that I can approach. I have to admit that I hate the idea of "stealing" a picture of someone in the streets. It's one of the reasons I choose a wide lens. When I approach somebody I make my presence known. I'm so close that one step closer and the people I'm shooting can lean over and hug me (or punch me) if they like.
What do you hope to convey through your street photography?
There's always a story that must be told. Hoping at the end of a project to have the pictures needed that lead to the one large picture. Like following each individual tree that finally leads to the dense forest. In the happy or grieving story, the same thing applies
What camera equipment are you currently using for your street photography project and why did you choose this particular setup?
Recently I sold all my previous equipment and got myself a Fujifilm xPro3 with the Fujinon 16mm 2.8 (24mm equivalent). The reason behind that choice was simple. I chose an instrument that inspires me. All cameras can take pictures. It's just the one you choose as your partner in crime (It's a love affair really). The equipment itself is super reliable. Manual dials, Optical Viewfinder, and no accessible screen (which I never use in any case scenario) make the experience as it's meant to be.
What advice would you give to aspiring street photographers who are just starting out?
a) Take pictures for yourselves.
b) Leave some time between taking the shot, checking it on the computer, editing it, and uploading it on social media. Some pictures are just the excitement of the moment and no really good pictures. Be selective.
c) Try to see the picture before you press the shutter (2 or 3 will do). Burst mode is just a bad feature.
d) Study the best photographers. Social media can actually hurt your vision. Get to Magnum.com, find the photographers that inspire you, and buy their books. Prints are the true way to study a picture. (You can start with "Magnum Contact sheets")
e) Be Brave and have fun. It's not a competition. It never was.
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All photos belongs to @Ilias Kormaniotis
Interview with moments collective director
Saeed Al Sharbati @2023