There are many mysterious and mystical elements in the photography of Vasilis Spagouros. He is mostly shooting outdoor on streets and most of his images are low key monochrome shots of people and random stuff. He is not a seasoned photographer but whatever he is creating is very impressive and profound. He’s a passionate movie collector and likes to watch mostly the experimental works of great directors and it clearly shows in his choice of subjects and composition. There is a subtle gloom in his photos that leaves a lasting impression on viewers and within the frame his characters look lonely and bewildered. Here’s our Q&A with this talented Greek photographer:
I was born in Athens , Greece in 1977, where I still live. I studied computer science and I work as a computer engineer. I love music- mainly progressive rock and soundtracks. Movies are my passion. Fellini, Tarkovsky, Lynch, Jarmusch are some of my favorite directors. Collecting old, low budget horror movies from the 60s, 70s, and 80s is a favorite hobby of mine.
My photographic journey started in 2006, with a small digital camera. I started taking photography seriously in 2008 after reading some books about photography and attending some lessons. I don’t know how many photos I take in a month, but I keep very few. Delete is my favorite key on the keyboard. And I always carry a camera with me. Photographic opportunities are everywhere.
Photography means a lot to me, but honestly I have no idea why I take pictures. Maybe, as Winogrand said, I want to see how everything looks like when photographed. Or maybe photography is my way of collecting souvenirs from the world. But the urge to photograph trivial things is still a mystery to me.
Walking-travelling light is very important. I don’t like big cameras with enormous lenses, they attract too much attention. And absolute image quality is not important to me. I currently use an Olympus OMD-EM10 with a 35 mm lens and shoot in aperture priority. I use Photoshop for processing my images using layers and masks.
I used to be into film photography for a short time. The process of developing and printing your own photos in the dark room was really special, almost magical. But time consuming too. I don’t like to spend a lot of time processing my images, so digital is the way to go. From time to time i go back to film shooting, but the main volume of my work is digital.
What do you feel is your biggest achievements?
My biggest achievement is that my passion for photography keeps going strong. I don’t have any clients at the moment, and most of my prints have been given at friends.
I don’t have a certain method for photographing. But when I find I place that interests me, I revisit it many times with the hope to get “something” from it. Street photography is becoming more and more challenging. People are becoming more and more suspicious of the photographers than they used to be in the past. It’s mainly because everybody has a camera and they shoot uncontrollably and also try to invade the privacy and life of other people.
Contemporary photography really interests me. I would like to think of my work as a mixture of contemporary and classic. Maybe the contemporary part prevails a little in some cases. As far as style is concerned, mine comes from photographers I admire as well as personal inspiration.
What is the photography scene like there in Greece? Where in the place do you wish to go for shooting?
I live close to the center of Athens which is a great place for street photography. It’s a multicultural environment. Photographic opportunities are everywhere. Travelling is essential to photography but it’s not necessary to go far. Great inspiration can be found in the places you visit in your daily routines. If I had to choose, I would like to visit Russia one day.
My main ambition is to keep on photographing. Sources of inspiration come from many things. Movies , music, my everyday life and experiences. It’s not difficult to keep yourself motivated. Internet is a powerful tool, and can help you find inspiration ,in the works of other photographers. It’s a never ending bank of photos, but you have to choose what to keep for inspiration. Some of my favorite photographers are Bruce Davidson, Dianne Arbus, Robert Frank, and Roy De Carava.
Shoot as much as you can. Don’t try to find impressive places to photograph. Photography is all around you so keep your eyes open. Learn as much from the great photographers as possible. Walk a lot and explore your surroundings.