An Interview with Instructor Niko J. Kallianiotis
When we first saw the work of Niko Kallianiotis, we knew we had to bring him on to teach with us. A documentary photographer, his street work tells the story of community and integration, or, more often, the lack thereof.
Curious about his approach to making work, we asked him a few questions about his inspiration and how he goes about working on a project.
- What drew you to photography?
Curiosity. Since my youth, I was eager to contemplate and immerse myself into situations that construct our immediate community. Considering my hybrid background, (I am originally from Greece) photography provides me with the tools to explore the discrepancies both on a personal and social level in the communities I reside, both in the United States and Greece.
- What inspires your projects? How do you start one?
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.
- I think one of the hardest things for beginning photographers to grapple with is sustaining a long term project. How do you it?
By constantly working, either by photographing or doing research. I think about ways to make a project stronger and strive to find a unique angle that reflects, above all, my personality. But every project at one point hits a wall and the photographer becomes cold to the work. I have found it valuable to sit back and think about the work in times of frustration; I let the work speak to me instead of forcing my ideas on the images. Photographing intuitively and letting go of heavy ideas that might fabricate the work has helped me overcome certain obstacles.
To read more about Niko and see more of his work, check out his feature on The New York Times Lens Blog.
Are you interested in learning more about Street Photography from Niko? Be sure to sign up now for our upcoming ONWARD workshop, The Culture of Chinatown, happening on March 15th!