Friday, January 7, 2011

Zisis Kardianos: What Was He Thinking?

Zisis Kardianos is a photographer from Zakinthos, Greece. More of his work can be seen here.

Two Dogs, Zakinthos, 2007

"During the winter in Zakinthos there are not many opportunities for the kind of photography that I pursue. In the afternoons I often take long walks along Lagana beach, with my camera hanging from my shoulder without expecting much. I just “take my camera for a walk“ as the famous Willy Ronis quote goes.

That day I saw these two very zappy dogs playing and hunting each other. I was attracted to their wild game, and I felt there was something sensual in the way they were fighting each other. They didn't run away when I approached them. They continued their game ignoring me completely.

This is what I like most about dogs. They can be so cool. In scenes like this, where there is a lot of movement and uninterrupted action, I delve into it and play along, circling the subject and clicking without much thought or fiddling with the composition. The odds for something coherent are usually minimal but I was lucky on this one, grabbing this quirky frame that conveys the vividness and rawness of this peculiar choreography. The deserted beach and cloudy sky add an ominous backdrop."

Beach games, Zakinthos, 2010

"The approach I used to take this shot was much the same as in the previous photo. The beach is the same but this time was during the summer and it was a bunch of teenagers having fun playing various beach games. I hung around for a while without photographing to see whether I was being annoying. I didn’t want to just take a few quick snaps and then vanish. I felt there would be more rewards if I could stay there longer.

About twenty boys and girls in their teens, playing funny games in the beach, laughing and touching each other, was a promising subject. I'm not sure whether at that moment I recalled the complex groups of young bodies that Sid Grossman made in Coney Island or the intimate and carnal shots of Leon Levinstein on the same beach, but for sure these are among the photos that I always carry with me in some obscure little corner of my memory.

When I felt I was not disturbing, I started photographing. I like to improvise and to engage very closely with the subject if the situation permits. This shot was done during a game where they were trying to fit as many as possible on a stretched beach towel but I wasn’t interested in describing what was going on. In the intertwining of the arms and the touch of the young bodies, I saw something of the expressive sensuality of the human forms. The middle guy’s haircut adds a vintage feel to the image. A friend of mine said how the photo reminded him of the Smiths album covers and I think his remark is fitting."

Naked rally, Valencia, 2009

"There was a demonstration against bullfighting and everybody was naked and smeared in red paint. It was funny and grotesque but I wanted to go beyond that first level of interest and take advantage of the scene in order to investigate its visual potential. This lush mixture of semi-naked bodies gave me the idea for a multi-layered picture with loose limbs, cropped out heads, weird details and truncated bodies. I often explore some ideas again and again and here I revisit the same idea as in the “two dogs” and the “beach games”. These are different photographs yet somewhat still the same. Of course luck is the most important component in such cases. I don’t think I was all that lucky but I still like what I got."

Escape, Lisbon, 2006

"I have no recollection whatsoever as to how this shot came about. I don't remember what I was thinking or the circumstances of the shot. However the image has grown on me and the fuzziness of my memory corresponds to the haziness of the image itself. It's like when you wake up from a dream and even though you don’t remember what you dreamed about, it has caused a lasting and strong impression. In retrospect the image looks to me like a collage of disconnected and indefinite elements. The effort to reconstruct a dream putting together small fragments resembles the reassembling of a puzzle.

The relationship of the man’s movement and the reflected urban environment conveys the impression of the ultimate escape. This shot has become for me an iconic Lisbon photograph and the one I probably have the greatest affinity with. This is my Lisbon."

Café Florian, Venice, 2008

"I was going back to the hotel just before dusk after an exhausting all day prowling. Usually I take the short-cut through Piazzale San Marco but there was a light rain so I was walking under the arcade. Because of the rain, the people were gathered inside the café and the violin player is facing towards an unseen audience. Strangely enough I was first drawn to the scene by a barely visible element, the pigeon opposite the seated man. It seemed to me like it was his companion and that the two of them were involved in a secret conversation. I quickly realized the other two elements, the one-arm sober-looking waiter and the solitary violin player and all these suddenly made sense to me, a sense of place. This photograph was literally taken “on the fly” and I only had to take one."

The prompter, Zakinthos, 2007

"This is from my “feast day” series. It was during a theatrical play, a popular comedy genre that is performed by amateurs in the villages during carnival. I never shoot the actual show and I was scouting the place in search of something unusual. From a small opening under the stage I saw this man, the prompter, cueing the actors their next lines. I was instantly beguiled by the scene. A stage under the stage, an informal play different than the official play, an actor performing just for me. The underpinning scaffold was adding a visual complexity and even the leaves touching the semi-translucent plastic cover were subtle decorative elements of this impromptu scenery. I stayed with the guy for a while. I had time to compose and wait for the perfect moment. The light was just right. I liked how it lit his face. That was another element of theatricality. Of course there was not a lot of action. But this gesture with the inclined head, the hand giving emphasis to the lines and his eye fixed at me, epitomized all the magic of the scene."

Scrap picking, Piraeus, 2007

"Japanese photographer Yutaka Takanashi expressed the dichotomy usually felt by photographers when he said “…two conflicting creatures settled into my body. One is a hunter of images, aiming exclusively to shoot down the invisible and the other is a scrap picker who can only believe in what is visible”.

My photographs tend to balance between these two extremes but sometimes one prevails over the other. Here I am in my scrap picking mode and the photograph is as transparent and even prosaic as it can be. I saw this guy picking among the scraps of a flea market in Piraeus and I was immediately struck by the aligning of the gap under the railing and the white line of his jacket. There was nothing else to it, just that, but it seemed visually striking. I had to lower the angle of the camera and choose a position to emphasize the perspective, filling the frame with the line from side to side."

Sidewalk, Valencia, 2009

"In this shot I am at the other side of the spectrum, in the hunter of images mode. Here I try to reflect back something of myself and at the same time make the photo form a narrative. The photograph is more expressive, abstract and certainly subjective. However in both cases the starting-point is the same, the observation of the world and the world itself in all his minute detail. This is as much a found scene as the previous one.

I was walking down a street in Valencia when I saw this wounded part of the sidewalk. It wasn’t completely flat. Something was mysteriously “buried” underneath and the whole assembly resting in the foot of a wooden pile furnished the scene with dark overtones. However it seemed to me that something was missing. I waited for a while and then this man passed by. I decided to include just part of his legs and that was enough to animate the frame and offer it a balance of form. The photograph has become a figment and not a mere document."

Outside Lonja, Valencia, 2009

"I reckon that this can be easily dismissed as a shot consisting mainly of backs and in addition I’m not very happy with the framing. But there was no time to compose better since I didn’t want to miss the flitting moment of the soft expression of the man, as he leans back to avoid the flying dog. I guess his posture can be read otherwise. It’s always good when you have a picture that suggests a different story than what was actually going on."

Eminonu, Istanbul, 2008

"When I photograph in other countries, I try to avoid clichés but I’m not indifferent to the particularities of the place. Differences still exist and it’s part of the pleasure of photographing abroad to explore them and insert small fragments of them in my photographs.

Every Sunday, if the weather is good, hordes of Turkish families gather at the wharf in Eminonu for an outdoor fish fry. I was drawn to this family enjoying their fish by the bright colored hijab of the woman. Simultaneously I noticed the silhouettes in the mid distance and how all the action was framed by the black tent and the row of the sitting people. I'm happy I caught the subtle gesture of the half-lighted boy bringing a glass to his mouth while the man in the back was raising the stool. I think this movement energizes the photo. However I regret not having stopped for a few more shots, since I later noticed that the girl's bright jacket in the foreground creates an unwelcomed distraction. Still, I think it conveys the bustle and vividness of the particular place."


Jack said...

Wow, very cool to have a peek at what he was thinking. said...

Oh man, this is a great post. I will have to revisit it tomorrow when It's not so late at night! Thanks! that Escape image has blown me away for a few moments, I can't continue tonight-

akk said...

great stuff
the first photo is one of my favourites, but I'll stick to my story: they are lions fighting in the dessert

Waste Collection said...


A good photographer work can express so much with just an image.

Thanks for sharing

Simon Johansson said...

Great! I didn't know about this photographer. The photos with the waiter/man/dove and the man under the stage is pure genious.

Sara said...

woow verry verry cool and gr8 post great stuff thanx

limon said...

lovelovelove them!