All images by George Pantoulas. Used with permission.
George Pantoulas is a photography enthusiast that has been a Creative Art Director, designer and illustrator for much of his professional career. He recently finished a project called, “Walking London” featuring lots of stylized street photography shot in the streets of England’s capital. The images look a bit something like what Daido Moriyama might have done in his early stages; and the series has been in fact recently featured in a gallery in Greece.
The images, when internalized, portray a gritty sense of the city combined with interesting geometry and emotions from the photographer that are clearly conveyed in the framing and distance to the subjects. We chatted a bit with George about the series and about what makes for a great street photo.
Phoblographer: London has a diverse population all pushed into a small area. When you decided to begin this project, what were your initial intentions and where did you see it going?
George: For many years I was an enthusiast landscape photographer. I loved to shoot the loneliness of nature but for my first travel in London I knew I had to capture all this through my lens. So I decided to leave behind the landscapes and try to show how is to be in a Metropolis that knows no boundaries and gives equal opportunities to people, to everyone. I can’t even describe my need to do that. Coming from Greece, a country that the last 4 years is “under financial and not only attack”, people have become weird, alienated and narrow minded. We also had the bad incident with the extreme-right party becoming a part of our parliament, something I can’t accept! So this photo series is some kind of political slap on the face of racism and all those that voted for a racist political party. “Hey people, wake up, to go ahead you have to love each other, see how it is done”. We’ve forgotten the “Xenios Dias” (the welcoming Zeus our ancestors believed in) and gave way to hate, I really feel sad about this. I hope to awake some people.
Phoblographer: The images seem to have a very gritty feel to them. Why did you go with the aesthetic choices that you made in the final products?
George: The choice had to do with the unique color that London has. I didn’t want to go the black and white way or the HDR way. I see that many photographers like to work their shots in B’n’W trying to make them look artistic and forgetting that it’s the subject first of all that makes a good photo and secondly the light and shadow, not the black and white. So I decided to turn down the color in a brownish-dirty look like the rainy weather that overlaps everything and highlight my subjects under this muddy blanket.
Phoblographer: What attracted you to the subjects that you shot?
George: The coincidence of the moment, the uniqueness of their personality reflecting on their look, the surrealism of their life. Every strange or happy moment, every feeling I could capture. The difference of life from where I live.
Phoblographer: In some of the images, the viewer seems very distant from the subject and in others we seem very close. Is there any specific reason why you chose to frame them this way?
George: Sometimes as a photographer you are just a viewer in the daily routine of some people and some times you interact in the life of others. You work with what is given by life. So, some times I wanted to so the wider frame a story was taking place and sometimes to show the protagonist.
Phoblographer: The series is in a solo exhibition in Greece right now. How did you go about getting this done? Some photographers only dream of having an exhibition.
George: For many years I was dreaming of having an exhibition, to show and to be known for my work. There is only one way to do whatever you dream. You first imagine it and then you do it. There are days I wake up and tell to myself today is the day, so I Google for galleries (having in mind what city or country I want to visit) and then I send my work, a CV and have an introductory text. 7 or 8 times out of 10 there is no answer, but I try for these 2 or 3. That way I’ve made many exhibitions in the last 2 years in a period of 3 to 4 months. This way also gives me a purpose, to work harder and harder. I can book an exhibition with just a title in my mind (like the 2 I will have in 2014) and no artwork at all. This will make me think hard what to do. So simple, I think.
Phoblographer: What makes for a great street photograph in your opinion?
George: Unlike the most photographers that talk about street photography, I believe that a great street photograph is made when you capture the unique moment regardless the perception of the subject. You can’t force every time for a good photograph. You just have to be alarmed to press the shoot button, for example the “what” photo. And in many ways, I like to be the ghost observer.
Phoblographer: How did you deal with people who asked you why you were taking photos of them?
George: I suppose that the multiculturalism in London makes the people more openminded. You see in most cases i just smiled at them and either they smiled back or they paid no attention. Where I live, you can’t do this. People are very hard to be photographed and you can be in trouble. Hope this changes in the near future.
Please Support The Phoblographer
We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.