“My creative process is more about abstract photos and surreal landscape. Landscapes and things that seem to come out of a dream or an illusion.”
Maria-Xenia Alnakidis (born in 1989) is a young emerging photographer currently based in Montreal, Canada.
“Photography is magic, a photograph can tell a story, it can trigger emotions or it can make someone burst into tears. This is the greatness of photography.”
Interview with Maria-Xenia Alnakidis
Maria-Xenia, why did you become a photographer?
I became a photographer because I have a passion for photography. I started taking pictures when I was in high-school. It was mostly pictures of my friends at field trips and landscapes. Back then I hadn’t realized how much I like taking pictures it was when I was 21 and moved to Montreal that I had the revelation that Photography will be a part of my life and being. Also, I got to love so much photography because I was exposed to it from a really young age since my grand-father was a photographer. Also, my dad shares the same passion about photography and he would always like to take pictures. I grew up in a house with thousands of picture to look at.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it that a photograph can say at all?
Through my pictures I try to convey my emotions, my thoughts, my mood at the particular moment. But I try as well my pictures to make other people feel or see something through it. To motivate them, to move them, to make them reflect. Even if they have a negative feeling about my picture I believe that my picture achieved to trigger some sort of feeling. The photograph can reveal the soul of the photographer, and that is what I try to achieve when I take photos.
Can you recall any special moment shooting pictures?
Every single moment when I take pictures is special to me. But yes, I can recall a special moment. It was 3 years ago when I was taking photos at old Montreal. The sun was setting and the scenery was just magical. It was a nice summer evening and it was when I actually realized how much I love doing this. I felt liberated and alive just holding my camera and shooting pictures.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I have to say Henri-Cartier Bresson was one of the first photographers I ever discovered and he inspired me a lot. Looking at his photos I learned what is worth capturing with my camera and when is the right moment to press that button, the “decisive moment”. Also, I must say one of my favorite photographers is Nick Economopoulos, his black and white street photography is just breathtaking and inspiring. It just makes you want to grab your camera and be risky. He really captures the soul of the people in his pictures.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
I think I still need some work in finding my own photographic language, but at the moment I would say that my creative process is more about abstract photos and surreal landscape. Landscapes and things that seem to come out of a dream or an illusion.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
At first its hard to find your own photographic language. It needs a lot of work and practice. I think that comes with time and patience. The more photos you take out there the more you are going to be aware of your photographic language. Through practice you can evolve and grow as a photographer. Personally, I still have a long path to cross in order to get to know fully what my own photographic language is.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
This is an interesting question. Technically its hard to say since I’m an amateur photographer I don’t concentrate a lot on the technical stuff. But I could say that I play a lot with the colours of the photo so my pictures can reflect the surrealistic feeling. Also, I like using long exposure especially at night because its gives my photos this dazzling mood, with all the lights being captured. Conceptually its about creating a world from my own dreams.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I can draw inspiration simply by walking on the streets and observing everything that is surrounding me. I focus also on the little details, the colours, the vibe of the things I come across. If I don’t have my camera with me I try to “photograph” things with my eyes. Lately I can say that my dreams have given me inspiration in taking photos. What I see in my dreams sometimes I try to incorporate it through photos.
What kind of photography equipment (camera etc.) and photographic supplies do you use?
My digital camera is a Nikon Coolpix P80. It’s a semi-professional camera but still it does its job quite well. I also use my grandfather’s analog f2 Nikon Camera, it’s a 1976 model. I love taking pictures with my analog camera. It’s a totally different sensation shooting with film. The excitement you get when you develop the film into photos it’s absolutely incomparable to what digital photography offers. Although, digital photography has many other advantages.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
My favorite website I must say is Magnum, because it features the work of great photographers that are so inspiring.
What photography book would you recommend?
I would highly recommend the book “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes. Although he is not a photographer himself he really gives a good insight and reflection about photography. He distinguishes between the “studium” and the “punctum”. By stadium he means the political and cultural meaning of the photo. On the other hand, he focuses a lot and elaborates on the punctum which is the detail of a photo that captures the viewer’s attention and moves him. I believe this is one of the books every photographer should read.
Which advice would you give to an emerging photographer?
I would advice every emerging photographer to follow their instincts when shooting photos and also put all their energy in it because that will reflect their work after. People would be able to see the vibe of the photographer through his photos.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: Where do I see myself as a photographer in 5 or 10 years from now?
A: I want to grow as a photographer and see myself evolve in those years.
I would like to complete by then some projects that I have already come up with and also I would like to have my very own photographic studio.
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