from the Balkan photography
interviewed by Vicky Markolefa and Michail
VM: You moved to Australia years back, where your photographic journey began. What inspired you then and what spurs your interest today?
YY: Despite having lived in Australia for two decades, my photography journey began ten years ago in Greece, in an isolated village in the mountains, where a camera and a forgotten book of street photography fell into my hands completely by chance. Since that day, I've tried to see the daily life around me as small frames in an endless movie, and to capture the frames that have piqued my interest
MM: In which way(s) photography helped you in life?
YY: During a particularly stressful period in my life, photography appeared to have a sedative effect on me. The idea was to create something both positive and. creative in order to turn around the issues and. emotions of the time.I made it through a very tough phase in my life thanks to photography.
VM: Your work has been exhibited and published worldwide, and received commentary on its distinctive style. What makes an image stand out and how can a photographer differentiate in the saturated fields of street photography and social media.
YY: The fact that someone can recognize one of my photos among others without seeing the name is one of the comments that pleases me. In my opinion, this means that I have developed my own style of photography over time. Obviously, this does not happen overnight. Time and experimentation are essential for the photographer to develop his own style and vision for how he wishes to portray the world around him. For the other part of your question, I think it's the ability of the photographer to create emotions and connect with the viewers of their photos through those emotions.
MM: Why capturing the moment on camera is more important (if so) instead of living it?
YY: For the same reason that a painter sits for hours painting a landscape, a musician does the same to finish a song. If we generalize it a bit, I think that it's the photographer's or each artist's internal need to communicate with people on another level that is more personal to them. In regards to street photography, I have discovered that I see moments that others never notice when I'm on the streets. Perhaps we can say this logic is my way of living in the moment and if I'm fast enough capture that moment as well.
MM: What is your state of mind before triggering the shutter?
YY: My mind isn't focused on anything when I'm on the road, nor am I seeking anything in particular. My goal is to stay calm and open-minded while alert to whatever might come my way.
VM: Your recent projects and future plans?
YY: For the time being, I'm still working on Distinctive Red a project that I began a. few. years ago and is about a well-known soft drink as well as a project for Thessaloniki's. seaside which is also the city where I was born. There is talk of a solo exhibition in Greece as well as a group exhibition in Mexico with Little Box Collective a collective to which I'm part of.
Yiannis Yiasaris was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1968, and lived there until 2001 where he moved to Melbourne, Australia.
He became involved with photography in 2013. His interest in people leads him to discover his passion for street photography.
Photographs and interviews of him have been published in several books and magazines, TV and Radio stations,
and street photography blogs.
From 2019 is a member of the TTL collective (Though The Lands). An International street photographers’ collective.
. 2016 Best Black & White photographer in Australia
. 2017 Best Black & White photographer in Australia Finalist.
. 2018 Aussie Street Photography Festival Finalist.
. 2018 Miami Street Photography Festival Finalist.
. 2019 Miami Street Photography Festival Finalist.
. 2020 Miami Street Photography Festival Finalist.
. 2019 8TH ANNUAL MPA (Mobile Photography Awards) Finalist.
. 2020 Italian Street Photography Festival Finalist.
.2020 Istanbul Street Photography Festival Finalist.
.2021 FUJIFILM MOMENT STREET PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS Finalist
.2021 THE WALL 2021 Finalist
. 2015 SITHOM group exhibition Melbourne, Australia.
. 2018 Aussie Street Photography Festival group exhibition Sydney, Australia.
. 2018 Miami Street Photography Festival group exhibition Miami, USA, Milan, Italy.
. 2019 Miami Street Photography Festival group exhibition Miami, USA, Milan, Italy.
. 2019 Familiar Strangers solo exhibition Thessaloniki Greece.
.2020 Italian Street Photography Festival group exhibition Milan, Italy.
.2020 Miami Street Photography Festival group exhibition online.
.2020 Istanbul Street Photography Festival, group exhibition Istanbul.
2021 SITHOM group exhibition Melbourne, Australia
1. Please describe your relationship with street photography.
Took me a while to contemplate this one. My thoughts jumped between words such as obsession, desire, passion and attraction. Having glanced at the curated shots I quickly realized that my need to express myself through photography is an emotional concoction of the aforementioned psychological ingredients.
2. Take us on an imaginary photo walk.
Each walk is an experience of its own. Given the mood of the day, the final outcome will be dictated accordingly. Black and white usually prevails over my choices. I like the bareness of the grayscale. It strips an image clean of noise and superficial perceptions. It helps emotions surface over a visual plethora of distractions. The first half an hour, maybe even the first hour or two nothing usually happens. The camera is lingering on its strap over my shoulder. My fingers are occupied rolling tobacco and pushing the lighter trigger each time my smoke goes out. I walk. It takes time to see the world free of colour. It takes time to get used to the silence of the walk amidst a bustling city centre. I walk until my soul is calm. I walk until my mind is clear. I always walk alone. I never know for sure what I’m looking for. There is never a brief. Some days will be loaded with images upon my return. Others will be barren but that's OK. There is always learning involved even when not a single click has been heard from the shutter.
3. Choice of equipment. Kindly share a few thoughts.
Being a man of extremes I have a tendency to shoot as such. When street walking/shooting I only bring two lenses with me. An 8mm fisheye and my 80-200 zoom. The latter is the one I use in 90% of the cases on a normal street walk as it allows me to distance myself from my subjects and leave a moment undisturbed by my presence. The fisheye serves me “same same but different” as they say in Asia. I choose a spot where I will set myself up long enough until I mingle in with the surroundings. Once I become part of the scenery then I start shooting. When I shoot BW film (which is often the case) I will only bring along the 43-86 zoom lens coupled with a Nikon F2.
4. Are there connections between your commercial and personal work?
Definitely yes. I'm constantly on the look for the clicks that will emphasize the humane aspect of a shot. Sometimes people tend to forget what goes on around them in the heat of the moment. I ‘ll never forget a client who called me up at 1am in tears after having seen the pictures and video of her daughter’s christening. “Thank you for being there” she told me. “I didn’t realize how happy we all were”.
5. Is there a piece of advice you wish you had in your early years?
I wish someone had slapped me in the face 15 years ago, forcing me to pursue my dream of professional photography sooner than I did.
Made in Greece
Model No: 28 / 04
Year of Production: 1979
Photography was supposed to be a one-night stand for me. Perhaps something you try just to get a kick of awesomeness right after a break-up rips your world apart. Heartbeats were soon replaced by shutter clicks and as life would have it, what was meant as a fleeting encounter turned into love at first sight.
From street photography in Barcelona, to festivals in Asia, to voluntary humanitarian missions in Africa, my lenses have been my eyes and my camera my best travel companion ever since.
I’ve never considered myself much of an artist. Some people like fishing, others love hunting – I belong to the group of folks who are dazzled, inspired and driven by photography’s ability to change the world. To stop age at 20. To keep a smile resonant and beautiful forever. To preserve a feeling or an emotion until it’s thawed and relived once more by the warmth of a familiar gaze. To inspire travel, induce exploration and shape public opinion
Χώρα Κατασκευής: Ελλάδα
Έτος Κατασκευής: 1979 Μοντέλο: 28 / 04
Η φωτογραφία για ‘μένα ξεκίνησε λίγο πολύ σαν φλερτ μιας βραδιάς. Πιθανώς κάτι που δοκιμάζει κανείς όταν αποζητά μια γερή δόση ενθουσιασμού όταν ένα πολύ σημαντικό (συνήθως άσχημο) γεγονός γκρεμίζει τον κόσμο του και ψάχνει κάτι, κάπου, κάπως να πιαστεί. Στη δική μου περίπτωση τα επιπόλαια χτυποκάρδια μετατράπηκαν γρήγορα σε έρωτα με την πρώτη ματιά κι η φωτογραφική μου μηχανή έγινε ο πιστός φίλος και συνταξιδιώτης μου κάθε φορά που έβγαινα να εξερευνήσω τη μαγεία του κόσμου μας.
Ποτέ δε θεώρησα τον εαυτό μου ως καλλιτέχνη. Σε κάποιους ανθρώπους αρέσει το ψάρεμα για παράδειγμα, και σε άλλους το κυνήγι. Εγώ ανήκω στην κατηγορία εκείνη των ανθρώπων που συναρπάζονται, εμπνέονται και κινητοποιούνται από τη μοναδική ικανότητα της φωτογραφίας να επιφέρει αλλαγή. Να σταματήσει το χρόνο στη νιότη. Να διαφυλάξει ένα χαμόγελο φρέσκο για πάντα και να το ξαναζωντανέψει από τη θαλπωρή ενός γνώριμου βλέμματος. Να εμπνεύσει ταξίδια, να μορφοποιήσει την κοινή γνώμη και ωθήσει βήματα αλλαγής.
Άλλαξε η ζωή μου με τη φωτογραφία για να είμαι ειλικρινής και ο λόγος ήταν ότι η συνεχής αναζήτηση «κάδρου» άλλαξε τον τρόπο που βλέπω τον κόσμο γύρω μου. Όπως είχε πει ένας διάσημος φωτογράφος «Φωτογραφία είναι η ικανότητα να ισορροπήσεις τη ματιά, την καρδιά και το μυαλό» κι αυτό μου έδωσε μια νέα οπτική στην καθημερινότητα μου.
Σαφώς έχω πολύ δρόμο μπροστά μου και πάρα πολλά να μάθω αλλά όπως με τη φωτογραφία έτσι και στη ζωή κάθε μέρα μας κάνει κι ένα κλικ καλύτερους.
(older thoughts during a balmy night at the Black Sea; or was it already at sunrise?)
It goes on since more than a decade, and every time it goes beyond itself. Where is the frontier? Or better, how far can you go?
The ambiguity of senses. The sweet suffering of an imminent tragedy (an ode to a sacrifice) where no one survives but all have lived 100 lives in a sole week!
Because it takes a daily sacrifice of many months to deliver such a gift as VSLO’s (now Photo Trends) life changing experience.
My dear fellow participant, regret is optional, but at least next time you see a photographer sit them down and offer them the story of your life which you have just lived.
My dear fellow participant, change is inevitable, you have just been touched by gods.
“My hands are in love, alas, my mouth loves and – see, I am suddenly aware that things are so close to me I can hardly walk among them without suffering.” (Nichita Stanescu)
2 Mai, Vama Veche, Black Sea, 20-27 August 2022