What drew you to street photography initially?
During my student years I worked as a photographer at marriages and graduations of students in Greece from 1997 till 2002 and then again during the economic crisis that started around 2009. But at that period it was not my hobby even if I was really enjoying the process of photographing people.
The massive change of the Greek society at the crisis deeply affected me and for first time I took a camera not professionally and went out on the streets for photos without even knowing what street photography was or what the magnum photographers were. It felt like a sudden inspiration came over me and I started seeing photographs everywhere. I have started enjoying the visual pleasure, the walking, the observation, the alertness of my senses. This feeling still exists from time to time and motivates me to go out and to take photos in Germany where I’m living now.
How would you describe your street photography style?
I usually go out for photos driven by my emotional status without having anything in mind about what I want to shoot. Then my photos are my reaction to what I see and this happens spontaneously, I suppose. My eyes are attracted by nice geometries, by vibrant colors, by people in urban landscapes, by atmospheric environments, by the light, by characters that for some reason attract me in relation with their environment, by street scenes that have a meaning for me – conscious or subconscious. As I see from the result I try to create images a bit poetic, vivacious, a bit colorful and with nice geometries and sense of movement. But I don’t know if I can call all this a style.
It looks like you interact with some of your subjects – can you tell us a little about that? What you talk about or how you engage them?
In general I prefer to be invisible but if that is not possible and when the subject of my interest creates in me a positive aura, I engage in conversations straight and to the point by asking them if I can have their photo. Then usually my subject trusts my aura too and the shot happens. Most of the time, I stay some metres away so that my subject gets familiarized with my appearance and then I go and talk always with a smile. I think that they understand that I like them and this is my passport. Most of the times nobody asks me why I want to make their photo but when they do I tell them that I like their appearance.
My current photos on my Flickr account come mainly from the city of Thessaloniki, an alternative and vibrant Greek city, and from the metropolis of Hamburg in Germany where I have been living since 2013. That period in Thessaloniki around 2010 I was unemployed, affected by the crisis and restructuring myself. This mental status drove me out on the streets with a camera where I have started enjoying the visual creation process from shooting until proceeding. I finally have found something that I was passionate and still am. A lot of my photos of that period are showing a move to the sky, like the photos with the seller of the hot air balloons at the seaside of Thessaloniki or the photos with a group of pigeons flying. I guess that this maybe could have symbolized my target for a positive change.
What are your thoughts on the future of street photography?
Street photography will continue to exist as it is based on the eternal need of the humans for visual observation and discovery. Today it is already in a transition phase. The massive use of digital cameras and smartphones by the public deteriorated the term Photographer and the upload of images in social media has made the people suspicious of other people holding cameras. That makes the life of the street photographer more difficult than before. On the other hand, the technologically advanced cameras provide new sources of creation for photographers and the available sources of information from the internet provide sources of knowledge that didn’t exist before. The inner need of the street photographers to document life through a personal and esoterical point of view remains the same, which means that the production of wonderful photos from talented photographers will continue as before. However, it will be not so easy for these photos to get discovered within the “ocean” of billions of social media photos.
See more of Nikos’ work on his Flickr photostream.