Interview With July Monthly Theme Contest Winner Constantinos Arvanitis
We have been blown away by the amount and quality of submissions to the Street Hunters Monthly Theme Contests, and each month has brought a new cavalcade of eye candy for us to behold. Roy Rozanski, Kristof Vande Velde, Christoph Wuzella, Sreejith Kaviyil, Zlatko Vickovic and Svilen Nachev have given us the cream of the crop through for the first six months, and they have clearly set the tone. With each month, the act of choosing becomes a more blissfully arduous task because of the standard set by the previous winners and the influx of quality work.
The calendar turned to July, the third episode in a five-month stretch where the Monthly Theme Contests will be focused on colors. As the weather started heating up, the theme got cool with color blue. But were the submissions to be cool as well?
Indeed they were! We were hit with a blast of blue, and once again, tough decisions had to be made. And once again, as we climbed into the ring to take blow after blow of blue, we knew the winner had to be more than just a snap with blue in it. Constantinos Arvanitis brought it all together with his winning shot, giving us his work that not only nailed the color, but also married it with impeccable timing and clever composition.
Constantinos Arvanitis, Street Photographer
Constantinos Arvanitis hails from Athens and is a member of the group of Greek photographers known as Photopia. He began shooting in earnest five years ago. Constantinos says, “photography was actually not a decision” and that it came naturally over the years.
“I became obsessed. Every click ascends me into euphoria for an instant and then submerges me into darkness. And there, I wonder alone, waiting for my next capture.”
This photographer is building a very solid portfolio of work, and it most definitely merits a look. Be sure to follow the links at the end of the interview to see more of his work!
Here at Street Hunters, we’re awarding the winners of each Monthly Theme Contest with all the exposure we can deliver! The exposure comes in three ways. First, the announcement post, which proclaims the winner of the contest and showcases their winning image. Second, an interview feature with the photographer. And third, a YouTube slideshow of their work. The feature posts will remain on the web for as long as Street Hunters exists!
- First, can you provide us with some background information about yourself? For instance, where you’re from. How long have you been shooting? Are you a member of any photo collectives, groups or communities? Have you had any work published, shown in galleries, etc.?
I was born and raised in Athens Greece in 1981. My first contact with photography was in 2005 however I quickly gave up. Therefore, I would say that when i started considering myself as a photographer, ” wannabe”, was in 2012. In 2016 I participated for my first time, in a photography group exhibition. Since, I had the honor my photographs to be a part of three more group exhibitions. Also in the winter of 2016, I became member to a group of Greek photographers called “Photopia”.
- Tell us about this shot! The color blue was the theme, but it’s your timing that made this shot exceptional. Did you have the theme in mind when you made the shot? Did you have this shot planned in your head, and did you have to wait to make it?
At the moment I am visiting Canada. I live in Edmonton, Alberta with my wife Constantina. Since Ι moved here I tried to tune myself with the new environment. So, in one of my early walks in the streets of Edmonton I noticed this bridge with a small window in the middle. It connects two different buildings and it’s used mostly in winter time. I was tired trying to find something interesting to shoot and I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by all the new information I was receiving. I was new in a Canadian city and I had never traveled outside Europe. So I decided to stop walking, pick a nice scenery and wait for something to happen. I waited for about 10’. There, I managed to take two pictures of two ladies crossing in front of the window. I felt satisfied with one of the shots, and I decided to keep it and move on. After a few days, I noticed the contest and I decided to take part with this picture. So I would say that the shot was planned on the spot, but when I decided to take this picture I didn’t have knowledge of the ongoing theme.
- How did you get into street photography? How long have you been shooting street and whose work influenced you the most?
I have tried to get into street photography since 2012. Now I can say that I was not very successful in the beginning. I tried for like one year but the results were not that great. So I stopped shooting in the streets for almost two years before I started again. You see, I didn’t have the nerve to get deep into it and I couldn’t interact with people very well. Street is something that you do or you don’t do. There is nothing in between, in my opinion of course; and that’s why it’s so hard.
I don’t consider myself to be a pure street photographer. To be honest I wouldn’t like to be tagged as dedicated street shooter, although I feel deep inside me that street photography is the king and the joy I have when I take a successful shot in the streets is ιncomparable.
I would say that the photographers that really influenced my work are mostly Greek. I love Stavros Stamatiou, Maria Kappatou, Eleni Rimantonaki, Garo Kalaydjian and many more. I would say that Stavros Stamatiou is my main influence although I don’t try to shoot like him, I could try but it would be like a parody.
- What gear do you use? What focal length is your favorite to work with and why?
At the moment I am using a Nikon d7200. When I started shooting 5 years ago I got a 35mm lens. I stayed with it for 3 years and I am very familiar with that lens. The last year I have been also using a 17-50 2.8 sigma which I like very much. I would say that my favorite focal length is around 35mm, maybe cause I feel more comfortable with it.
- Digging into your Flickr photostream, I see a good portion of black and white work. Do you prefer working in mono over color or vice versa?
Black and white is easier. Isn’t it? For some reason I find it easier. I don’t want to be misunderstood, I love color. It’s just that I am not very good at it at this point. I am changing that, slowly. You know, I wouldn’t participate in a Color contest a year before. So that is a proof that I am changing, or I think it is.
- In your monochrome work, you’re quite adventurous. I see images that are surreal and others that are sharp fragments of people. Do you find working in black and white inspires you to be more creative?
I think and see in Black and White. High contrast and hard light is a magnet for me. I can get really creative in such conditions. I don’t know why, but since the beginning I was drawn by high contrast, black and white pictures.
- Do you prefer working wide or close?
I would lie to you if I say that I prefer one way or the other. As long as the composition works for me and something interesting is going on in the frame it makes me happy.
- How much emphasis do you place on editing images? How much time do you spend on editing a photo? Do you have a workflow that you follow?
I have a workflow yes. Generally speaking, after I take a successful shot, I see it in my computer and do a very fast post production. I would let it sit there for 1-2 days, sometimes a week. When I see it again I can be sure if it works or not. So, If I decide to keep and share, I start post production. It usually takes 5-10’. My tools are vignette, shadows, white, contrast, noise reduction and sometimes curves. I make sure that it looks ok in different screens, so I email it to my phone, tablet, laptop etc. After the last check is ready to go. If I don’t do the screen check it takes 3’-4’.
- You’re originally from Athens, and the bulk of your work is from there. How would you “sell” Athens as a street photography destination?
I am not very good at selling stuff. I would say that Athens is a great city to live and to be an active photographer. It is vast and populated. The only obstacle between you and a good picture, when walking in the streets of Athens with your camera, is yourself and the lack of imagination or determination.
- Are there any other places you enjoy shooting?
I would be happy to shoot everywhere as long as there is something to shoot.
- What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Any projects, exhibitions or publications in the works?
I don’t know anything about the future. I have dreams as we all do. I had a proposal from Greece for an exhibition that I had to decline because I am away at the moment. I just have to wait and see what happens next. I am not in a hurry or something. Things like photography takes time and I feel it’s too soon for me.
Andrew Thank you!
Where You Can See Constantinos Arvanitis’ Work