Niko J. Kallianiotis (born 1973) is a contemporary photographer from Greece currently based in Scranton, Pennsylvania (USA).
He studied photography at “Marywood University”, Scranton and “School of Visual Arts”, New York. In another interview on this site Niko J. Kallianiotis talks about his photo essay “Bittersweet Apple” which is dealing with the Greek community in Astoria and questions of cultural heritage and national identity.
“Originally from Greece, I am trying to investigate and assimilate in the communities I reside both in Pennsylvania and New York by concentrating primarily on street, documentary and portrait photography.”
“Artist Profile” – Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
Curiosity. Since my youth, I was eager to contemplate and immerse myself into situations that construct our immediate community. To me, photography is the perfect tool to explore the discrepancies both on a personal and social level. It’s a way of life.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
“I like to feel the environment, the people, and decipher my personal reflection towards the subject matter.”
Every project has its own unique characteristics and as a result, the photographic language tends to fluctuate and develop over time depending on a particular artistic endeavor.
I tend to spend time investigating the fundamentals of a project before I start photographing. I like to feel the environment, the people, and decipher my personal reflection towards the subject matter.
This plays an important factor in choosing the style and format I will follow. Regardless the above criteria, I tend to follow a basic rule.
I want to create images that evoke introspection to the viewer beyond subject matter, reflect my personality and respect what lies in front of my lens.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Robert Frank. Not so much for his style, but as to how photography could be used.
His work said something about his observations that I felt under the surface. His book “The Americans” brought those feeling to the surface.
His work transcended subject matter while honored it. His work exemplifies the epitome of exposing a photographer’s intuitive and personal reflections in the work.
I try to embody that approach, where thinking about ideas, shooting and editing becomes a coherent whole.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect the medium by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I use a variety of cameras and formats. For 35mm I use a Canon Mark II. For medium and large format I use a Hasselblad 501c and a 4×5 field camera.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Including yours, too many to list. But I frequently visit American Suburb X which is a very informative source incorporating a myriad of genres, concepts and artists’ background information.
What book about photography would you recommend?
Too many to list but I highly recommend Robert Adams’ “Beauty in Photography”.
In a world where everyone is taking photographs every day the only photographs that really stand out are the ones of exquisite beauty, no matter the subject.
I believe that the two-dimensional surface that is the photograph needs to be an entry point for the viewer to contemplate a deeper meaning to our existence. Beauty is the entry point for the viewer to contemplate a deeper meaning into our existence.
Adams writes in detail about the issues of beauty in photography and the modern art world.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
“Developing a unique style is of pivotal importance.”
Make it personal and photograph what you care about, something that intrigues you and always shoot from the heart.
This will probably sound basic but many photographers, especially those who start out, tend to fall into the trap of photographing something they think will sell or follows the current trend.
In addition, it is very useful to study the masters and their way of working, but do not copy/paste. Developing a unique style is of pivotal importance and will make the work stand out.