Interview with Photographer Nikolas Konstantin
Tue, 03/01/2011 - 12:11
Nikolas Konstantin is one of my favourite photographers. His ability to capture emotions, to show people in the moments when they are most real makes him a photojournalist with a rare sensitivity. When I ask him on his working process he reveals "I see the world as a silent movie and make screenshots of the most beautiful scenes."Nikolas is not only a photographer, but also the founder of IDEAS Magazine, a recently awarded inspirational platform on the web. He took some minutes to talk with us about the power of photography, his projects and how we all can discover our visual intelligence.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.The pleasure is mine. I am happy to be here today and share my passion and experiences with photography. I just recently stumbled upon a presentation by Fabio Sasso, the founder of Abduzeedo and was amazed by his naturalness and honesty. He built Abduzeedo driven by his motivation to grow as an artist and help others to reach the very stage he was at. Sharing his secrets made him who he is today. I love that. To say it in Mos Defs' words, "You got to be a good Jedi not a bad Sith". Abduzeedo is the Luke Skywalker of visual arts. It feels right to be on the good side of the force.
1. Please tell us more about your background and what made you become an photographer? How did you start photography?
Have you ever heard the sentence, "Reality is stranger than fiction"? Well, nothing writes better stories than reality. My story with photography is one of those. I got introduced to photography in Ecuador. There, I helped a photographer to paint his studio and received lessons in technique in return. A bit later I moved to Greece to work for a School for the Blind. At an exhibition there, I met a guy who after a vivid dialogue decided in a moment of infinite humanity to become my teacher and grant me a scholarship to use his darkroom.
What followed then can best be explained with a dialogue of my favorite scene in the Matrix where Neo asks Morpheus, "why do my eyes hurt?" and Morpheus answers, "Because you have never used them before." They say that art connects us with ourselves. Photography is the art of seeing. It is like a magnifying glass. Once you fully give in to it, everything that is beautiful becomes even more stunning and the ugly becomes deep and edgy.
My first project was very personal. I remember assisting with the organisation of a theater play where the blind went on stage together with professional actors. The project itself was magical, and it felt amazing to see my blind friends on stage surpassing the professional actors in passion, dedication and progress. During the day, I stayed in the theater documenting the stories and dramas behind the stage with an old Canon EF from the 1970's; in the nights I went to the darkroom and developed my pictures in the red-light of the chamber until my mind was narcotised by the scent of the chemicals. For me, photography was a means to tell stories and shed some light on the life of the strong and joyful people I worked with.
2. You worked analogic, now you work digital. What are the advantages/ disadvantages?
Using the darkroom and developing your own film is something wonderful. To those that have never experienced the magic of light falling and burning itself on sensitive paper, or have never seen a blank paper slowly writing its hidden story on itself after being submerged in liquid, I recommend giving it a try.
I screwed up so many films and pictures in the darkrooms, but I learned a lot. I began to understand how important it was to put the focus on exceptional people and freeze moments to tell a story that otherwise would go unnoticed in the struggle of everyday life. Also, I learned that making a picture is a cumbersome process. Every film has only 36 shots, and it takes 5 hours to develop, plus another two before you have your picture in your hand.
I embrace modern techniques, but I always have in mind how much more effort and dedication it once took to make a picture. It sounds like a contradiction, but the more difficult it is to reach something, the more heartship and dedication we develop in order to reach it. I believe it is for that reason that many pictures made in the 30's, 40's and 50's surpass the modern ones in all disciplines.
3. You are the founder of the IDEAS MAGAZINE. Tell us a little bit about that project !
I just talked with my editor in new york and she called IDEAS "a webzine created with the goal of spreading the beauty of the human spirit across the globe." Now I love the way that sounds but maybe its a bit over the top (laughs). What's true is that I started IDEAS as a border transgressing experiment with the vision of hosting and showcasing inspiring articles, projects and art created by young people all over the world.
Allthough it's self cooked and at times a bit burned but maybe this imperfection is why people seem to like it. I am content to say that the project just won two major prices one of it being the TEDx Amsterdam "IDEAS worth spreading" challenge.
The last 2 years we have walked upon the path of online journalism & magazine print and now aspire to part and give birth to a creative seminar series. The vision is to create a pool of talented and motivated young people all over the world and bring them together to learn from each other and connect. Steps on this road are a summer camp in France, a petite self-made social network and a online calendar filled with opportunities to grow, connect and contribute. To all those interested to work with us on this vision feel free to get in contact with us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
4. What do you think is the most important factor in making a good picture?
What makes a picture iconic? It's not the technique, not the composition, not the $ 5000 camera. Sure, all of that has a big influence on the quality of the picture, but what really makes a good picture is the emotion it evokes. At the core of every good picture there is an emotion. In literature the beauty of words lies between the lines, likewise the beauty of photography lies between the pixels.
5. What do you believe is the power of photography?
I believe that the power of photography is in its ability to bring about change, just as I believe in the power of people to bring about change. A picture cannot change the world but it can evoke emotions in us that inspire us to act and live differently.
A good picture tells a story that is worth being told. It sheds light on a situation and alters the way we perceive our environment. In its most successful moments a picture touches us and makes us act.
6. How does your job as an artist influence your life? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?
Partly why I love photography is because it helps me to reframe the world, to not see how I want to see things, but to see them as they really are. I want my works to be honest screenshots taken out of life's busy Operating System. I take pictures from a distance, to not disturb. I search for the story in reality. No staging, no make up, no actors. Life writes the best stories and an inspiring way to see how our society works is to take a camera and try to look behind life's curtains. Therefore, I am the primary beneficiary of my attempts in reframing the world, not only because I come home with some magnificent shots, but because I understand my surroundings a bit more.
Where to find him on the webhttp://nikolaskonstantin.com/ - Portfolio & Blog http://ideasmagazine.eu/ - IDEAS Magazine http://japonundercover.tumblr.com/ - Japan Project http://twitter.com/ideasmagazine - Official Twitter Account
More work of this artist:
Japon Undercover is a visual diary of my exploration of the country of wisdom and beauty. The Blog is an invitation for you to join me seeing through the looking glass in the world of the land of the rising sun. Feel free to zap in if you want to get inspiration and new perspectives.
100 Heroes - Countenances of Change
Can there be light in the darkness? When the pure souls of Cambodia suffered the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge in the years 1975-79, it was probably this glimpse of hope that gave them the life force to survive the violent torture of Pol Pot's regime. It was the hope, the vision of one day seeing children playing and learning again on the blood-soaked soil of their reality. Indeed, the wind has changed: the regime has fallen. While the survivors' wills and hearts were irreparably broken, it is their childrens' purity and spirit that have begun to symbolize that "A Change Has Come"
How will Cambodia and the world change in the next centuries? The answer to this question is to be found in the eyes of the children of the Siem Riep Orphanage in Cambodia. Their faces are the countenances of change in a country that has lost its educational elite, a country that has survived the most serious crimes against humanity, and whose survivors have lost themselves in oblivion, alcohol and depression. 100 heroes presents the portraits of a generation of hope and peace. They represent the breath of life in a once almost dead country.