Leica Liker is honored to have Ania Vouloudi, a Thessaloniki (Greece) Street Photographer as our #16 guest.
When I was on the search for photographers that have a unique point of view, several fellow street photographers suggested I look at Ania’s work. You’ll have to agree, when you look at her work, there is a quirkiness that stands out from the crowd.
Ania’s photographs exposes that a flip of a dress or the whisp of hair all have an aesthetic worth looking at. For instance, the photo below: We’ve all done this. Swimming, blowing bubbles, and hanging off the edge of the pool. But the juxtaposition against the other feet and the point of view, makes this very mundane moment a special moment in the memory of a life.
What attracts me to Ania’s images is that they evoke my own memories. Bringing a warm feeling. So it was serendipitous that Ania speaks of shooting to remember. To remember what she saw. But funny enough, she talks of what she saw is often not what comes across in the photo. We humans walk around with filtered glasses, with our own stories to tell. Hence, we see the world as we want to see it. But the beauty of life is that it has its own reality. You experience it as one of many. So perhaps more importantly, Ania shoots to remember what she lived.
Back to evoking memories. I love that Ania’s photos spark the collective sharing of insignificant moments in our lives. Moments that we will undoubtedly forget when we become older. For instance, lying on the grass in the sun, a girl climbing up a door frame, a ball bouncing in front of a window, dogs walking by and growling at each other. The creation of human history – cell by cell, second by second, frame by frame . It is what makes us human.
Here is my interview with ANIA VOULOUDI:
Nick Name: none
Currently living in: moving between Thessaloniki, Greece and Rethymnon, Crete
Motto: Bukowski’s “Don’t try”
Street Photographer since: 2009
Profession/Job: Construction Engineer
Websites: www.aniavouloudi.com and http://www.flickr.com/photos/vouloudi/
Organizations or Group: None
Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon 550D with a canon 24mm f/2.8 lens
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Canon 400D with a cosinon 28mm f/2.0 lens
Favorite photography gadget: Built-in flash
Favorite street food: Kinder Bueno
Do you listen to music while shooting? No. I want to be able to hear what I shoot.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Rebetika when I edit.
Favorite photo software: Lightroom 2.7, Photoshop CS6
3 Favorite Master Photographers: I don’t have any. I haven’t searched, so I don’t remember who is who. But I have seen an exhibition of Sally Mann. I once took a quick look at a Diane Arbus’ book and as a kid I had a poster of Doisneau’s kiss. I remember something from them and they are three. But not my favorite, yet.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: Todd Fisher, Kate Kirkwood, Charalampos Kydonakis, Laura Rodari. I can exclude none.
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I own many of my father’s. He used to shoot the family. His photos are wonderfully raw as anyone’s who does it effortlessly.
Color or Black and White? Color. I see color, I shoot color.
Shoot Film or Digital ? I have seen nothing digital being as beautiful as anything analogue. But I can’t wait and have no money to spend on film.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Anytime.
How did you get into photography? When I was a kid, my father used to share with me his Zenit and afterwards his cheap little snap shot camera. I think many people start this way.
When I was in college, I never really enjoyed the field of my studies and realized I needed a hobby. Then I saw a pamphlet of photography lessons and convinced myself it was fate. I guess that if I would have seen a pamphlet of cooking lessons I would now be an amateur chef. So, I followed this random fate and found myself amongst housewives who needed better photos of their grandchildren, policemen who needed better photos of the corpses and co-students who were bored, too. We had a great time, we didn’t do much photography, I didn’t go there often but all that made me buy a Nikon f65 in 2007. I went to these lessons for 2 years. In the second year I got a loan from the bank and bought a Canon 400D with a 50mm lens but that lens was a bad choice as I always had to stand far away.
I actually got into photography much later around 2009-2010, I learnt what even my camera can do after I had quit those lessons and I recently ended up with a 24mm which allows me to be myself and get closer.
Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I don’t feel that I have chosen any form of photography and I collect stamps, too.
How do you define street photography? All I know is that it has no literal meaning. Street can be the park in front of your house, the morning route to your job, your grandmother’s backyard, the underground parking of a building or the shopping mall. It can be your home, your kitchen, your dog, the sea, museums and airplanes, massage rooms and carpet stores.
The truth is that I don’t really like labeling photos. I don’t care if a photo is called street or posed or unposed or who is in the photo etc. If I like it, it has a reason to exist, it’s part of the photographer and it can take no label on it. What is street and what is unposed? Is “street” shooting strangers? My photos do not include only strangers. Does “posed”mean that you put everything in the order you want? I never know what order will come up in a photo. I care for the feelings that a photo can cause, I care for the visual result not for the description of it in words.
What motivates you to photograph the streets? I shoot to remember things. To remember how I used to see. Memory makes you what you are. About the streets, I like the fact that I don’t decide what goes where and almost nothing is under my control.
Is Street Photography an obsession? Photography yes. Street no. I don’t shoot regularly and I rarely shoot “street”. Friends tell me to shoot more. I guess I should. The more you search the more possibilities of finding what you are searching for.
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? I can’t concentrate when I’m with others.
Are you an invisible photographer or visible? I feel invisible. But it can’t be.
Favorite street photography city: Rethymnon. It’s a small town on the island of Crete that changes every day.
What inspires your photography? I’m often inspired by boredom. When I’m trapped in traffic, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, when I am at a wedding of an unknown cousin or when I have to mop, I shoot.
Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? The true answer is no. But if I were a 3rd person looking at it from a bird’s eye point of view, maybe I could come up with a philosophy or a concept behind it.
Do you think working on buildings and engineering might have influenced your view of the world? I have never thought about it. I shoot what I like. I don’t know what influences my photography or when it might be. I suppose everything: my dog, friends, parents, what I eat. Everything.
Can you describe your style? Do I have a style? I don’t know if I have a specific style. You can probably answer the question better than I can.
How has it changed over time? It constantly changes? Nothing can stay same. When I am happy my images are happy. When I am pessimistic they are also pessimistic. I grow up, they grow up, too.
What do you look for in a good photograph by you and others? To feel like I haven’t seen it before; to be something that I am or can be.
How do you go about shooting a street photograph? Sometimes I run and strive and sometimes it happens unconsciously like breathing.
Could you please describe the process – what was going on in your mind when you first started to think to take the following image all the way until you pressed the shutter release? I had to take photos for the exhibition we had with Charalampos Kydonakis and Lukas Vasilikos last year. It was difficult to exhibit with great photographers who already had a bunch of photos for the subject of the exhibition while I didn’t. So, I had to search almost every day for them.
One day, I came across with an upside down chair. I thought it could be something but not by itself. After I spent time shooting distant, boring humans passing by, a white dog came to me. I started petting it and then a black dog appeared. They were growling at each other but when I see this photo I tend to forget it. Reality differs from what I see or want to see. It is what I like about photography.
How do you use flash and not feel like you are intruding? You use flash even in the day – is it to give more luminance? When I use the flash during the day, people don’t understand what is going on. When the flash goes off, they look behind them at the direction that I pretend to look, too. At night, I do the same and hope they will act the same. If not, I use the smile. And if not, I use the “ I-am-a-tourist smile”. And if not, I’m gone.
As for luminance, I like light. I like everything to be bright and in the same light value. I guess the aim is to have everything visible. Another reason is the settings. I don’t enjoy spending time on finding the right ones at night or indoors, so with my same, lazy, favorite settings and my flash on I get what I want.
How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? Instinct. But I can’t always l trust it. People are emotionally attached with what they create, so sometimes I ask the opinion of people and photographers I trust. It’s another talent to be able to choose.
Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Tips are useless. People can do whatever they want. They should and they will.
Best single advice on how to improve your work: Take as less photos as you can.
Best single advice on how to edit your work. Delete as many photos as you can.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: If you have made the decision and you are aware that you are getting into street photography, do not.
What’s the best moment in your street photography career? Every time I see a good photo in my camera.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? The worst moments come when I don’t shoot for a while.
What projects are you working on? I’m working on my little cousin. I haven’t seen her for a long time and now we spend time together. I also realized that I have an ongoing project with a lost toenail of mine, but I still have time before the new one will come out. The surgeon had to take it out and granted me a three months project.
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? Still shooting is a fine goal.
Are there exhibitions planned in the future? No.
Leica Liker thanks Ania for sharing her experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with her in the future.
You can check out Ania’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.
This is Ania’s self portrait.