In this interview Greek photographer Dimitris Makrygiannakis tells how a broken leg and a trip to India fueled his passion for taking pictures and shaped his artistic vision.
Until photography became a cornerstone of his life, Dimitris used his camera on his travels to make the normal touristic shots.
„Remembering my life through the art of photography is what keeps me going.“
These days, taking pictures has a different meaning for him. He says: „Sometime in 2010 and after a series of events I discovered artistic photography. Got totally hooked and since then photography is a part of my life everyday.
I started as a street photographer, but nowadays I will make photos of anything I find having artistic value. Family, friends, objects and still enjoying the streets. Remembering my life through the art of photography is what keeps me going.“
About the importance of having a mentor in photography, Dimitris says: „I think they are very important, because they have the experience and have developed a vision. Through discussions with them you discover things you have never thought of. It’s impressive how a photo that you might not be able to fully appreciate can change though the feedback of others – and ultimately it makes you look at it in another way. It’s not only all about changing your opinion about that particular photo. But you start thinking in other aspects.
„You can find exciting things to photograph at your doorstep and even in the smallest of places.“
For example, when I came back from India I still was very focused on street photography even though I had already started to work on other things.
And it was Achilles who encouraged to further broaden my view. He reminded me that photography was all around me. You don’t have to go to India to take interesting pictures. You can find exciting things to photograph at your doorstep and even in the smallest of places.
These things you might eventually discover yourself with time. But a good mentor can speed up that process in a helpful way. That’s why I think that mentors are needed in photography.“
The story behind the image
„This photo was shot in Stockholm in the summer of 2014. I think it was a promotional campaign of some kind of bodylotion. There were a lot of models laying on the floor. The funny thing was that it was a very cloudy day, there was no sun at all. That made it even more unusual and absurd – this whole scene of people pretending to be sunbathing.
„A lot of my photos include symbols.“
I sensed that there was some opportunity to take a good shot. But I was not quite sure about the how. So I started to snap a few pictures but I was not really satisfied with the results.
Then I started to walk around the mattress and hopefully I would find something. When I stood in front of the big pile of white bathrobes with the people behind it, I knew that I’d found the right spot.
The reason why I chose this image is because I like symbolism. A lot of my photos include symbols. In this particular one it’s the contrast between the naked bodies all separated and on the other hand the pile of bathrobes all mixed up and cluttered.“
„This image was created with intention. Here’s the story behind it: When my son was born in 2014, he was born two and a half months pre-mature. So, we stayed two months in the hospital. I have a whole set documenting that time which can be seen on my website.
This is one of the happier pictures. The first days and weeks were really tough. But when things started to get better and there were no worries about his life anymore, my son could finally spend time with us outside the small incubator for pre-mature babyies.
„I wanted to combine the happiness displayed on that arranged face with my family – but without including them fully in the frame.“
The book on the bed is „The Christmas Tree Bucket“ by Trent Parke. It’s mostly about his family.
I bought it when we were in the hospital because I wanted to look at something to get inspiration from, because now I had a family, too. And then I found that looking at the book also gave me strength. It made me dream of better times to come – and happier photos to shoot.
So, it was a very important book for me during that period.
One evening the three of us were in the room when I somehow got the idea for this arrangement. It started with the milk collectors inside the braw which reminded me of a pair of eyes. That sparked the idea to create a face. The tree on the cover of the book was the nose and the blanket I arranged so that it would look like a smiling mouth.
I wanted to combine the happiness displayed on that arranged face with my family – but without including them fully in the frame. That’s why I just included what was necessary to complete the meaning of the image, the rest I left out.
This photo is about family.“
„The similarity of the hair and the hand is striking in this image. That’s what called my attention. It’s a simple frame. Two elements, but they are strong enough to tell an interesting story. Or more than a story it’s just a magical moment.
„There are some funny dimensions in that image.“
What I also like about this image is that you cannot see the ground. You can only see the houses of the town. It’s almost as if the two characters were flying. In my eyes, the gentleman even looks a bit like Superman. On the other hand, he could also be a magician controlling the hair of people. There are some funny dimensions in that image.
At first I was aiming for another shot. I tried to catch the man through the thick glasses of another tourist. I kind of liked that scene, but then all of a sudden, I saw the moving hair of the girl and focused on that. Sometimes the best shots come while you are working on another idea.“
„This photo is another important one from my trip to India. For me it symbolizes India itself. It’s like the fairytale „The Black Swan“.
The ugly swan was left out and there came a metamorphosis. That metamorphosis I see in this photo. It talks to me of India as a nation. It’s a big country with a lot of problems, but it’s rapidly developing.“
For further reading, please check out the interview with Dimitri on my online photography magazine „The Art of Creative Photography“: „Day Dreaming With Eyes Wide Open“. On the same page you’ll also find a feature of Lukas Vasilikos: „Questions Without Answers“
Although this podcast is mainly in German, every now and then I interview photographers in English. Some previous episodes are with street photographers Valérie Jardin („Street Photography – Creative Vision Behind The Lens“), Rinzi Ruiz („Street Zen – Or Photography As A Meditative Practice“), RE Casper („The Street Is Like A Theater“), Ugo Cei („Traveling Image Maker“), Marc Fairhurst („Why Did You Take That Shot?“) and Dmitry Stepanenko („Heavy Colour“ Street Photography).
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