Nikolas Ventourakis: fashion photographer
The first Fashion Live held by Ozon Raw in Athens gave us a good reason to discuss with one of the breaking in photographers that participate in this highly interesting workshop.
Child of the new generation of the Greek fashion photographers, Nickolas Ventourakis has worked with Greek and international magazines, as well as fashion designers like Lulu Guiness, Viking Wong and others. A permanent resident of London where he works, continuing at the same time his studies on Central Saint Martins. On Saturday, February 4th he is to take part in the workshop ran by Ozon Raw the topic being the fashion editorial production, where he will present the exact steps of the process.
Tell me a few things about you, your background.
This is nothing less than a daunting question. So, I’m 30 years old, I work as a photographer, I live in London for the last 5 years but I travel Greece all the time.
When did you take up photography? How?
My highschool grades were good enough just for a photography school. I would take the tests again but something drew me to this field so I stayed.
What sort of equipment do you use to take pictures?
Whatever comes in handy, from that point past with anything required for the project I’ve taken up. I usually shoot with digital cameras for my professional purposes, because they are cost and time efficient. For my personal projects I shoot entirely in film, but not due to sentimental attachments. I cannot attain the result I require in the digital domain with a reasonable cost. If this came to change I wouldn’t have any trouble migrating to a new medium.
What do you like taking pictures of?
I honestly don’t know for sure. Portraits, definitely. But, landscapes as well.
Is there a perfect model for you? Have you found it?
I don’t know what perfect stands for, but I have been excited with certain models when working with them, yes. Models resemble actors a little. If they have the talent, then with proper guidance you can get marvelous pictures; if, besides being talented, they are also experienced, then the photographer might not have to utter a single word. They sense it and they give it off themselves.
Are you having a hard time convincing someone to let go of his clothes?
No, not at all. You propose to them with honesty. If they don’t want to you stop asking, you don’t pressure them. If they look like they just need a small push then you can make things easier for them by providing them a sense of security. Up until now I haven’t been turned down. I guess I’m careful when to ask for it and to whom.
With the digital cameras and the mobile phones everyone is a potential photographer. What’s your view on this? Is it possible for a skilled photographer to set himself apart from the rest of the myriads of pictures uploaded on the Web any given moment? To which degree has this affected the professionals?
Truth is photography is something really easy. It doesn’t require any particular training. You only have to keep your eyes peeled and be in the mood for a lot (quite a lot, actually) work. So, everyone, can be a photographer. I’m not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing, it just the way things are. From this point past, in order for someone to be able to distguish himself as a good photographer is extraordinarily hard, but at the same time it’s easier than what it used to be. For example, nowadays, a magazine/advertizing editor may stumble upon your work somewhere on the Web, pick up the phone and tell you: Would you like to do this thing for us? The chances of this happening formerly were essentially zero. Now, its 0.1. So I guess it’s a bit better. As far as the professionals, yes the have been affected negatively, especially in the field of the provision of basic images.
What is the direction that modern photography is heading at in 2012? And fashion photography?
Everything has to do with motion picture and the 3D digital these days. The classic commercial photography is gradually falling from grace. Not that it will cease to exist, It just won’t have the same importance that it used to. The same thing happens in fashion as well. Streaming videos are more important than stills. Photography is becoming more of an artistic medium –this is the reason why the market for art photography is booming.
Is there any room for more superstar photographers, these days, on the field of fashion photography in particular?
No, but there are still some major names coming out definitely. In a way there are more star photographers, but certainly less superstar photographers. I think it’s the same thing with music. There are new major bands coming out, none of which will become the new Rolling Stones and the new U2.
Is there a magazine whose photographs you really enjoy?
Are we still talking about fashion? I wouldn’t say that there is any specific magazine or journal, most have occasionally some very good works –and some pretty bad ones as well. . Interview, Industry, V, dansk, the Room, Metal, Port, Fantastic Man, QVEST, oh, and definitely MAN ABOUT TOWN. And ΤΑΝΚ. And POP.
How interesting is Athens to the eyes of a photographer?
Highly interesting. Quite highly interesting. But it’s also quite challenging to evade the clichés. I’m striving to reach this level currently. To find a way to take the pictures I want in Athens. Every time I find myself in Greece I try to take as many pictures of Athens as possible.
The people, the individuals definitely. I don’t find the city itself inspiring.
What are you doing at the moment? How are things for a photographer in the UK?
I’m currently working freelance, I’m preparing for the meetings of London Fashion Week, I’m doing a research for particular shootings, and at the same time I’m studying again. I’m taking an MFA Photography scholarship on Central Saint Martin’s. So besides fashion I’m continuing my personal projects.
What is the greatest difficulty a young photographer is facing these days?
To make a living as a photographer. It’s quite hard to find a job that actually pays these days.
Give some highlights of your up to now works.
The shooting I did for the 20th anniversary edition bags by Lulu Guinness. Also, my first cover on BHMAdonna*, all in black backdrop. My collaboration with Martina Luisetti. And definitely my first cover on OZON. It was the first photo that we I had sent them together with Danae Dragonea –who is the current editor-in-chief- when we had earned our masters. The thought of our photo being on the cover served as an excellent morale booster.
What would the ideal continuation of your professional activities?
To continue being able to support myself financially exclusively on photography. I don’t care about being famous and having my name mentioned in history of photography books, but yes I’d like to be successful enough so that I can continue my work.
What exactly is Fashion Live?
Fashion Live is a live photoshoot/workshop. We will try to present the production process of a magazine fashion editorial. The idea came from an event, Live Studio, that Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio had in Sommerset House around two years ago. On the show, visitors were able to monitor the entire fashion editorial production process behind a two-way mirror, first from established photographers and finally from Nick Knight himself. It was a huge success. The rationale was look but don’t touch –which is reasonable considering the fact that the photoshootings were going to be published as actual well-paid for editorials (the Vogue UK cover for example). We would like the exact opposite to happen. We don’t want to stay behind a transparent panel, we want the people to be actively participating.
What are you going to present there?
With very basic terms, the role of a photographer in fashion. The proper professional conduct and the things one must bear in mind during a shooting. Also, I will try to highlight the most important, as far as I am concerned, factor, which is that the photographer is there so that everything ties in perfectly with everything else. He’s not there to play superstar, boss, or whatever. Yes, he is our eyes and he caters for our aesthetic, but it’s a team game. This doesn’t mean that in the end he isn’t the one responsible for the result. So, during the photoshooting you can’t just pay attention to yourself, but become an actual maestro, a conductor. Oh, and the simplicity of the basis of fashion photography. Yes, you can do it as elaborate you want but at its core it’s very simple. Clothes, model, feeling. Everything else is extra.
How important are such workshops for the Greek fashion circuit, in your opinion?
They are quite important. Greece has -on a national level- to follow the developments in fashion –it’s a small country, it doesn’t produce trends. Even the Greeks that have left their mark, like Mary Katrantzou, don’t belong to some domestic movement but they are international products. Nevertheless, the field is still active, there are still people working on it, professionally or on a hobbyist level, or even as an audience. Unfortunately we’re not as well acquainted as we could, and we certainly don’t know about the coming, new generation (actually the very new, I’m part of the new generation still!). In my opinion, workshops is the best chance to get to know our collective status. And for the newcomers to get a first impression of what really takes place in our country and to get to know us and vice versa. In effect, to engage in a dialog. To provide an initiative for collaborations to happen. It’s of even higher importance to me as well, because I live abroad and I don’t have many chances to actually see what’s happening in Greece with my eyes.
Fashion Live! is a daylong workshop where the participants will be able to experiment creatively under the guidance of esteemed professionals along with the magazine’s contributors and creative team to produce fashion editorials. The participants will be split into teams depending on their subject (production, photography, styling, hair and make-up, art direction) and will have the opportunity to select clothes from showrooms of well known brands that will be in the same space, to style their editorials. Under the guidance of the specialists, the participants will go through all the stages of production (brainstorming, theme selection, moodboards, styling, hair and makeup, shooting, photography selection) contributing for the best possible result. The workshops will be open for a specific number of participants who have registered online beforehand.
Saturday, February 4th, @ The Hub, Alkminis 5, K. Petralona.
Visit www.fashionlive.gr for more info
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