Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now? Your background with photography, how and when you were drawn to the street genre.
I am from Greece and I live in Athens. My interest in photography started right after I graduated from university, so I attended a two-year course back then, but soon after that I was disappointed with my photos and as a result I gave it up. My first digital camera brought me back in the game after a long pause. Quite a few seminars and courses followed. I also attended some workshops, including one with Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos and also another one with Jason Eskenazi, which were both very enlightening. Photography is more than a pleasant pastime for me now. It’s something like a compelling need.
I have always been interested in photographing people, but since I feel uncomfortable with taking posed portraits, I started trying to capture stolen moments, which inevitably led me to street photography. However, I think that it has been since 2010, when I came across some street groups on flickr, that I have taken a more serious interest in street photography. I was motivated by the photos in these pools and tried to capture something interesting myself too.
How do you define “street photography” for yourself?
I know that there is a lot of controversy as to what “street photography” is. For me it can be anything that contains life, usually in an urban context. It can be in a public or a private place. Generally I believe that it’s mainly about people, but human presence can also be implied. I think that an important ingredient is for your subjects to look natural whether the shot is candid or not. So, for me, many different kinds of photos fall into this genre.
Does your local situation affect your work?
Street photography in Athens is becoming increasingly difficult, as more and more people object to being photographed nowadays. I think people are skeptical about having their picture taken by a stranger because they are concerned about how this picture may be used. They are also more aware of their rights concerning their privacy than they used to be. I suppose that the current economic crisis in Greece has made them feel even more vulnerable too.
In what ways do you think being a woman has affected your work?
I think that generally people feel less threatened when they are photographed by a woman. Yet there have been some cases when I was confronted with some kind of hostility, which has made me more careful. I find that some funny comments or small talk after I have taken the photo, do help.
Color or black and white, digital or film?
When I first took up photography, I had a film camera as there was no other alternative back then. Years later, I reluctantly bought a digital camera, which was to change my view about digital cameras forever. It allowed me to experiment, and helped me to improve. In the beginning, I was fascinated by black and white photography, and I actually disliked colour. I loved the way that black and white transformed reality into something more illusory. Although I haven’t given up on black and white completely, now I photograph mainly in colour, despite the fact that it is more challenging. I find myself drawn to bold colours, and I try to put them in my frame.
What photographers can you name who are the most inspirational to you?
I like so many photographers that I wouldn’t know where to start. I admire the work of the great masters but I also love the fresh point of view of the many contemporary photographers I have come across on social media. I only want to mention that William Eggleston has been a great source of inspiration for me lately, because through his work I have come to appreciate the power of banal, everyday moments captured in a frame.
Is there a special project you are working on? Or recurring themes you are often drawn to?
From time to time I have different themes in mind although I also shoot whatever crosses my path and find interesting at the same time. Lately I have become obsessed with cars and how they blend with people and the city and I try to transform them from the visual noise they usually are into something interesting.
Eleni Rimantonaki Flickr