“Street photography is a source of inspiration. It has made me watch everything around me with a sharper eye and even if I don’t get the chance to get the picture, I get the pleasure of witnessing a person or an action that was worth watching.”
Christos Kapatos (born in 1975) is a street photographer from Greece, currently based in Piraeus (Greece). When it comes to photography, he’s mostly self-taught and attended some workshops at New School (Athens).
Interview with Christos Kapatos
Christos Kapatos, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures out on the streets?
There are bad times and good times when shooting out. Some people are suspicious and some are friendly. What I seem to remember the most, is that fraction of the second when you have spotted an interesting scene and you click and you know you got a good picture. That feeling of fulfilment is unique.
Why did you become a photographer? And why street photography?
Photography was an enthusiastic hobby for me untill the economic crisis hit my country few years ago and I decided to leave the “corporate” way of life I had and try my luck with photography as a profession.
Street photography is a source of inspiration. It has made me watch everything around me with a sharper eye and even if I don’t get the chance to get the picture, I get the pleasure of witnessing a person or an action that was worth watching. Something like a movie.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to transmit with your pictures?
“You will see ‘drama’ in my street pictures even in the funny ones.”
Photography is a way of expression for me. I live in a constantly shifting political and social environment and I need, as everyone else I guess, a way to react. I find myself and my photography caught in between the situations at home and those I face on the street but I depict those that do meet my ways of seeing the world. You will see “drama” in my street pictures even in the funny ones.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Philip-Lorca diCorcia. He manages to suspend time in a unique way and create so many questions with his pictorial work through scenes of everyday life. He is the Edward Hopper of photography.
Have a look at Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s photography book “Storybook Life”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
Although the great masters have offered many catchy phrases, the one that comes to mind when thinking about photography is from Ansel Adams:
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
There is no specific pattern when we speaking of street photography. I have never been out looking for a good image and got back having it. I just go out and observe and if I am lucky, I will catch a frame of the theater of life. On the other hand, street photography has offered me ideas and scenarios that inspire me for my staged work.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Consistency in work and one has to follow his own gut. Studying the genre a photographer likes and practise. Portfolio reviewing by photographers you trust and look up to is good, too.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I am trying to achieve the best image quality lately. I always shoot raw when in digital and I develop my digital images to feel more like film. I seem to prefer some particular tonality in my pictures. For the past months I’ve been working on a series of images created in the street, but in a lighting controlled environment and my subjects are mixed staged and passers-by.
What qualities and characteristics does a good street photographer need?
Street photographer or not, you must love what you are doing and spend time on it. Practise, study and observe.
What does a photo need to be a great street shot?
I don’t know.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From my own life and from other photographers.
What’s the biggest challenge shooting on the streets?
To be able to spot an interesting scene and make it your own.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Canon EOS 7D and an old film EOS5 camera.
Voigtlander Color Scopar 20mm f3.5.
Sigma 30mm f1.4.
Canon 50mm f1.4.
2 speedlights and a portable studio 600watt flash with battery.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
There are a few: Magnum, VU Agency, VII and Flickr.
What photography book would you recommend?
The more, the better: But one that comes to mind is “Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort” by Peter Galassi. Its a MoMA book/catalogue about photographers turning their cameras to their immediate life or indoor photography in general.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) street photographer?
As with everything in life, it’s about commitment, hard work and luck.