All images by Nicki Upstairs and used with permission
Photography serves many purposes for every individual, with each photographer having different stories to tell through their images. Like many who chose to pick up a camera, Thessaloniki-based photographer Nicki Upstairs has found that it’s a way for her to communicate thoughts, feelings, and concepts impossible to express in any other way. Her latest project, for example, makes use of surreal elements to tell the unknown stories inspired by locations around her hometown.
Inspired by the often overlooked details of her hometown, Unseen Thessaloniki is a collection of visual stories set in locations fitting of the surreal imagery Nicki had in mind. “Living in Thessaloniki for the last 18 years, I started discovering aspects of it that were unknown to most people, even locals,” she shared in her artist statement. “These unknown stories of the city led me to create a series of images, where I present these hidden aspects, in my own way.”
“The photoshoot takes place after I have decided on all the details: location, wardrobe, props, pose, camera angle and anything else I have to know beforehand, so that I can impress the image exactly as I have imagined it,” she explains. “Most of the times I use myself as a model, thus making myself part of the story.”
Nicki chose nine locations in Thessaloniki and the greater area which she noticed are places everyone knows, but at the same time, do not. This is perhaps one of the most interesting details that spurred the project. It allowed her to add her own alternate realities into each location’s identity. By introducing her own characters and their stories, each place became more than just a lonely pier, an abandoned mansion, a rundown train car, a remnant of a time gone by, or an unnoticed path.
“In the images that I created, I highlight each location by creating a different story, using elements of surrealism. The location is the main protagonist, while human presence acts complementary.”