This is a project with the extremely talented team from Acrodance.
AcrOdance by Anna Omiridi is a brilliant combination of acrobatics and creative dance. Acrobatic routines are integrated seamlessly into choreographies with emphasis on guided improvisation. The main concept of this approach is that movement and exercise, as creative expressions, hold a significant role in human lives and help in structuring positive self-awareness and knowledge of oneself. Thus strengthening your body and building your muscles will allow you to experience mental uplift.
I have to say that during this cooperation, all performers responded with unlimited energy, drive and professionalism; this comes as no surprise since their chosen discipline demands these virtues unconditionally. And I have to admit I much prefer working with dance/performance artists for exactly this reason. It should also be mentioned that the Acrodance team has a lot of experience with photographic projects, having collaborated with a a considerable number of local and international photographers.
Concerning the project, our concept was that of an ensemble of performers that find themselves trapped in a series of travels inside a type of purgatory, where they have to reenact their routines in a dreamy/symbolic setting, in order to purify and absolve themselves from prior sins. The whole project was shot on location, during a 3-day trip (which was also very reminiscent of that of a travelling troupe).
Concept and styling: AcrOdance by Anna Omiridi
Makeup and hair styling: Lina Dolora Eisenberg
The Acrodance team:
An editorial shot utilizing of multiple speedlights (making heavy use of flare) , color gels and smoke, while featuring special make-up and outfits.
Models: Maria Karakosta and Maria Mela
Make Up: Christina Ziliaskopoulou
Costumes, props and styling: Elena Lizardou of Ekfrasi Dance School
Danai Maltezou is a hugely charismatic aerial performer, whom I had the pleasure to meet (and shoot) a few months ago, in the Nefelopetra Aqua live performance. This time we arranged for a more “formal” shooting, where Danai performed a number of highly impressive routines; which I tried to capture in the best way possible.
I may sound repetitive, but performers in general (dancers, acrobats, actors, etc) are the best possible material as far as cooperation and chemistry are concerned. They always have something to give and for as many times as needed in order to get the perfect shot. It is almost as our work as photographers becomes uncomfortably easy... hmmm....
Apart from Danai I must also extend my gratitude to the very hospitable Pole Passion Studio in Piraeus, where the shooting took place.
Here are some samples from a photo-shoot we did some time ago with A.M.
We set it up in a theatrical theme with the masks introducing the element of identity, truth, and interaction. Are the masks we wear our habitual protection from reality? What about the faces we wear every day? And how about, even, the naked skin: does it reveal or conceal the truth in us?
Make-up was done by A.M. herself, concept and styling by both. Without further ado, here is the gallery, please enjoy! As always, click on a thumbnail for the full image:
A perfromance by the “Nefelopetra” group (which is, of course, Greek, and could be translated as “Cloudstone”), which was formed in 2009 by Nefeli Markaki and Petros Politis. At this point I will let their own words describe the modus operandi:
Three musicians, an electric guitarist, electric violinist and electric cellist playing live music, create a music loop using a looping station. As the mysterious musical atmosphere is now created, the music continues and the artists calmly put down their instruments and begin to climb upon the aerial silks…
Our company’s motive is to mix many art forms into one performance, just using 6 artists. With dance, aerial skills (silks, rope, net), video projections and live, original music, we become a dark and mysterious acrobatic/music act with a twist. All choreography, music composition, photography, film editing, lighting design and costuming are done solely by the artists of Nefelopetra.
I will again let the artists themselves describe the inspirations, goals and concept of this specific performance, aptly named “Aqua”:
Inspired by philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, six artists descend into deep waters, defy gravity and explore the mysteries of life...
Human, a very complicated entity, strives to always reach high, to explore and tame his environment and to surpass himself. But how often during this journey to “success” or “completeness” do we take the time to glance upwards towards the stars? How often are we too busy and overwhelmed by the strains of reality? How often do we lose our sense of identity entirely?
Perhaps water, the element that embraced us in the womb, where life began, holds the clue to rediscovering this feeling of wholeness. Maybe the waters that cover our planet’s surface and the element that continues to flow through us is actively linked to our souls.
Aqua is a performance about the human drive to reach towards the impossible and how the cool waters of the soul, guide us along our journey. Just waiting for us to listen to their song and notice their reflections…
Here is a recent shooting made for commercial use by the Greek dealer of a major nutritional supplements company. This was done on location, in a traditional bodybuilding-oriented gym in Athens.
My model was Lia Tzagaraki, a young upcoming fitness competitor. Although this was her first experience in front of the camera, she did great on this occasion. And that’s because I just asked her to behave as natural as possible; in other words, this was just another day of hard, no holds-barred training at the gym. Which means the gym was actually open and other regulars were also training at the time, as usual. This emphasis in real life conditions is what made this shooting effective, in my opinion, despite the technical difficulties. Many thanks to Lia for showing such commitment and drive.
I have to also thank George Koutaliaris -an experienced and successful bodybuilding athlete himself- as well as his wife Agni for offering the gym for the shooting and being super helpful with anything we needed. It was great fun!
Please enjoy a gallery from the shooting, gear details can be found, as usual, immediately after it
Pole dancing has emerged, during the last decade or so, as a very popular fitness trend, slowly but surely washing away the stigma of night and strip club connection. A growing number of young -and not so young- women, and, in recent times, also men, choose it as their favorite fitness pursuit. Thus, it is not peculiar that, as a modern sport, "vertical dance" as it is sometimes called, is even considered as a full Olympics event.
This photoshoot is from an afternoon with the talented instructors from Polosi Pole Studio, in Athens. The school was founded in 2006 by Eleftheria Yiayi, and, in fact, it was the first school introducing pole dancing as a fitness endeavor in Greece. Since that time, a large number of the school's students have become instructors and school owners themselves, further spreading the popularity of this discipline.
Performers: performers, Alice Konsolaki, Annie Karavia, Aretousa Schina and Dani Patroni
A photoshoot in a Goth-type style, with the magnificent Madam Mosquito.
Model: Mary Mosquito
Special thanks to Gavriel Badras for the assistance and Elena Lizardou for helping with props.
These is regular Street photography with the twist being the "cinematic" style applied. Since the word may have different meanings for different people, and because quite a few people do this, I should explain the way I see this line of work better.
The principal purpose is conveying a certain mood and feel through the photograph, by a combination of subject, gesture, framing and color. This is a subjective matter, so here is my short checklist in no particular order:
- Subject matter involving daily life, giving the general impression of watching a documentary
- Generally speaking, shallow DoF (except where not appropriate). In general, these are mainly "isolation" shots
- Use of directional light (again, in most cases)
- Use of the cinematic 2.39:1 anamorphic aspect ratio (UPDATE: also included photos framed at the, also quite common, 1.85:1 cinema aspect ratio)
- Processing: this generally involves higher than usual contrast and clarity, WB alterations to carry the intended mood, use of vignetting and, of course, color grading in the cinematic style. This is again very subjective, but would be immediately recognizable as a style you usually encounter in motion pictures. Goes without saying that there is no Photoshop scene manipulation (e.g. removing items) involved.
This is a new long term project, featuring double (in fact, multiple) exposures done in post processing, although it follows a different approach to the mainstream.
One difference is that, in -let's call them "regular"- double exposures featuring portraits, there's usually a human element (headshot, portrait or environmental portrait) and some landscape or still life element overlay. In this project, the secondary exposure(s) is most probably another human element, sometimes a different view of the "primary" one.
In fact, there is no clear distinction about what constitutes the "primary" element of the picture; I wanted to make them in a way that you have to shift the focus of your attention between the different elements. In a way, like when you squint at a picture and there is a different picture underneath.
Another prerequisite was a somewhat gritty, analog/film like look to the pictures. I'm not going for technical perfection with this, so grain and even deliberate blemishes such as (simulated) light leaks and scratches is the norm. In actual fact, my purpose was to make things that would possibly be made in the darkroom, using all analog processes. Albeit, with a lot of effort, admittedly.
This is the reason I used very specific tools in post. Mainly, the Analog Efex Pro plugin from Nik Software (let me remind anyone living under a rock for the last months, that NiK Collection is free). This was used through Lightroom, no Photoshop utilized.
As for the initial shots, some of them are "recycled" from older shootings, which means they didn't make the final cut not before they were inferior, but because some other shot was more conformant to the full set of pictures for that particular shooting. Others are just casual shots of friends and colleagues. And some are staged on purpose for this project. There is even a couple of self-portraits in there.
Thematically speaking, inspiration comes from a number of concepts. One is, actually, ghosts and demons of World traditions, for example Japan or Ireland. Another is from purely psychological concepts such as the ideas of dementia, cyclothymia and depression. And there are certain references to novels and movies, as can be evidenced by the titles on the photos.
Blues For Peace is a global movement started by Michael Packer (Blues Hall of Fame, New York). Concerts, put on throughout the world over the last weekend of May with the goal of raising the awareness of peace. The project is a world-wide event which took place on May 27-30 (Memorial Day weekend, USA) and sanctioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR.
Here is the lineup, in alphabetical order, of the groups that appeared in the festival:
Blues & Soul Shakers
Bob Hall & Hilary Blythe
Daddy’s Work Blues Band
George & The Dukes
George Gakis and the Troublemakers
Nick Tsiamtsikas & Blues Report
Simos Kokavesis & Blues Co.
The Jumpin' Bones
Theo & Boogie Sinners + (Guest: Bob Hall)
Υiannis Monos & Blues Family
I had the pleasure of shooting the whole four days of the festival, meeting up again with old friends and meeting new ones, among which British Blues legends Bob Hall and Hilary Blythe, which were official guests.
With this event, the Greek Blues community declared in a modest but -effectively- loud and clear manner, their sensitivity in social and global matters, and the impact music can have on raising public awareness.
From a series of mini-shootings, taking close to 10 minutes each, during a fashion event organized by Showroom10 in Athens, Greece
Styling: Sandy Karagianni
Hair and Makeup: Freddy MakeUp Stage
Assistant photographer: Maria Lazaridi
A great collaboration with three very talented young dancers
These are from a photoshoot to provide a young musician named Greg Giarelis with material for his CD, as well as portfolio stuff to use in marketing material and press releases.
Greg Giarelis is a young Greek guitar player, singer and composer
that is considered one of the greatest hopes of the Greek Blues scene,
and more. This is the conviction of the best of Greek Bluesmen, with
which he has played, and continues so, through the years. Greg had his
first CD, with original work, already available. You can
listen and download it from this CD Baby link.
Photos from a photoshoot at "Ekfrasi Dance School".
Many thanks to the dancers/teachers Elena Lizardou, Maria Karakosta and Maria Mela.
A photo-essay involving electric basses and vintage cars. Basses courtesy of John Grigoriou, the most prominent session bass player in Greece. John is also an avid bass collector: his stable now counts more than 210 electric basses, from all makes and eras, among them, several incredibly precious vintage and one-off pieces. He's also a huge fan of vintage cars and, in his bass collection, there is a growing number of custom painted instruments, using actual era-correct car colors, racing stripes, numbers, etc.
The venue was the Hellenic Motor Museum. Technically speaking, the Museum is both extremely interesting and challenging to photograph. Light is usually limited (they have to show the cars in the right mood to showcase colors and lines, after all). Being able to combine the lines and colors of the instruments with those of the cars was totally worth the effort. As an added bonus, the Museum features a "fully equipped" vintage service garage (check the last photos in the gallery), which gave the opportunity for some exciting shots.
Here is short shooting we made a few weeks ago, with Aretousa Schina from Polosi Pole Studio. The whole concept was combining a vintage pinup style with poledancing, in both outfits and image aesthetics. It was done on location, at the Classic Motorcycle club of Greece.
Special thanks go to Dani Patroni, for the invaluable help during the shooting, as well as Dimitris Ioannou and the people at the Club, for providing the beautiful location and making this possible.
These are from an exciting dance event organized by the Athens Authentic Jazz Dance school led by Irene Ragusini, and was eloquently named "T'Ain't What You Do (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". The location was the, more than fitting, neo-classical building of Parnassos Philological Society.
Authentic jazz, or vernacular jazz, is a dance genre with afro-american roots, especially popular during the 1920s through the 1940s. It draws influences from older afro-american dance, such as Cakewalk, while having inspired later ones (e.g. modern jazz, hip hop, break dance etc). It is usually a solo act, accompanied by swing jazz or blues music (and their musical ancestors), and is heavily based in rhythm and improvisation.
I decided to make retro-looking contact-sheet type collections of the teachers' performances, trying to catch the mood as well as the excitement of the whole experience.
Another great photoshooting at Ekfrasis dance school, this time with Tango movements.
Special thanks go to the beautiful dancing couple, dancers/instructors Maria Mela and Panagiotis Poulimeneas and, of course, to the school's headmaster Elena Lizardou who also hand-made and provided the outfits.
From a shooting at the "Meandros HEMA Team - Piraeus".
These very devoted people are training in what is known as "Historical European Martial Arts" . This, theoretically, includes all known forms of fighting disciplines developed in the European continent. For practical reasons though, they are mainly focused on systems of armed and unarmed combat developed from the 14th century onwards. The reason is, there are no preserved fighting manuals from earlier eras (such as, for example, the Ancient Roman period). The latest known manual dates from about 600 years ago.
This means, of course, that, as archeological research reveals and verifies older sources, the training curriculum could be expanded accordingly. Thus, HEMA is actually a work in progress. That said, the volume of scholarly work surviving is already quite extensive, encompassing hundreds of manuscripts and other works, from famous European masters. Since most of these manuscripts offer a systematic methodology and iconography, they are more than enough for setting up a complete system. Most of them are focused on thrusting and cutting weapons such as the longsword, rapier, dagger, etc, but also styles of unarmed combat like Ringen and Abrazzare.
Of course given we live in modern times, athletes are training using equipment fully approved by the international federation, which offers perfect protection. Since we are talking about martial arts here, one would understand that the original forms could be quite brutal, and HEMA schools are trying to follow the traditional historical systems as far as possible. But the exact opposite to brutality is also evident watching the actual fighting movements and techniques, which perfectly mix grace and gallantry with efficiency.
More on HEMA official federations and unions can be found in the the links provided here.
My thanks to instuctor George Zacharopoulos and also Manolis Rhodokanakis and Tasos Triantafillou for making this possible: may your steel always be true guys!
This is a street photography essay with a twist.
It was shot entirely in Athens, Greece, in during about one month. I wanted to give the final images the look of old, monochromatic postcards, possibly coming from the 1950s.
Athens is, of course, instantly recognizable in many photos, due to landmarks and general atmosphere. Although image mood is, let's say, vintage looking, nobody will be fooled to think most of these photos were taken at an older time. Things such as dressing, smartphones, signs, etc, instantly give it away. It was this oxymoron that I wanted to emphasize with the photo styling decisions.
With the introduction of the X-Pro2, Fuji added yet another film simulation to the several fantastic ones already at place. This time it's again one of their own films, the Neopan ACROS.
Neopan is a contrasty, high res B&W film, with rich blacks, vibrant whites and very nice tonal range. Contrary to what some other companies call "film simulations", Fuji takes great care to replicate the particular characteristics of each film they reproduce, going much further than a simple saturation/contrast curve, but keep something in mind: the film simulations are digital analogs, which means they are customized for a digital's camera response (X-Trans, in particular).
After almost 40 years, an historic Greek racecar event returned to the calendar. Organized by the racing club ELLADA, this hillclimb took place on the weekend of 23-24 of April and gathered more than 100 participants, in several categories.
From an event dedicated to old bikes with small displacement engines, organized in Athens, Greece, by the Hellenic Classic Motorcycle Club.
Greece is a country that traditionally had a huge relation with the sea. Just one look on a map will promptly explain why: almost the whole country (except the north part) is surrounded by the Mediterranean. The heart of the country's cultural substance has been the Aegean archipelago and the communities build around it. Ancient civilizations flourished watching the sun rise and set upon these waters and the whole history of the people living in this corner of the world, was continuously associated with the sea.
Along with the a long standing maritime tradition, which still stands today (Greece has the largest merchant ship fleet, not counting "convenience flag" ships), common people on the shores of the Aegean were fishermen, from time immemorial. A couple of decades ago, there were literally thousands of small to medium size fishing boats dropping their nets in these waters. Unfortunately, due to EU standards and regulations, this vast fleet was gradually decimated. Today only a small percentage of that previous number is still floating.
These were small but proud and relentless little ships. They had to; they had to often endure the wrath of a very wild and unpredictable closed sea, full of deadly traps and haphazard weather conditions. Generation upon generation of fishermen proved their seamanship daily, not in some maritime challenge but against the unforgiving elements of nature, to which their ancestors had given names of gods and demons of the sea. It goes without saying that their boats were their pride and joy; this is why they tried to handle them with outmost care and paint and decorate them in vivid colors.
Today, many of these brave little boats still remaining, are rotting in several boatyards, all around Greece. This is a small gallery about the relics of prior defiant little sea warriors. No color used, intentionally, and for obvious reasons.
This gallery is from a recent visit to a bauxite processing industrial complex, located in Boeotia, Greece. Greece has some of the largest bauxite deposits in Europe, and one of the few vertically-integrated aluminum industry processes in the World. The complex was built during the sixties, and the area, complete with permanent settlements built for the workers is known as "Aspra Spitia" ("White Houses") in Greek. More info can be found in Wikipedia's articles about the place and the industry.
What makes the largest impression is obviously the redish/brown bauxite color that covers virtually everything around the industrial landscape. This evoked images we use to associate with the planet Mars, thus the title of this essay. The concept of coldness, mechanical efficiency and complete lack of visible human presence, are overwhelming. Only the sporadic appearance of plant life in the vicinity somewhat breaks the engineering monotony. This was further emphasized that day, by the heavily overcast weather.
All photos with the E-M1 + Zuiko 75mm f/1.8.
A small selection from a still expanding Street Photography body of work, shot in color, both on digital and film.