Stavros Stamatiou was born in Kozani in 1965. He studied at the Pedagogical Academy of Heraklion and since 1988 he has been working as a teacher in public education. He has been involved with photography since he was a student and, after many years of practice, has come to a point where he uses his camera not as a photocopier but as a mirror, a tool that can give him the ability to speak about himself by using pieces of the world around him.
This concept is at the heart of the author’s first monograph, “Street As a Mirror”, published by Eyeshot, which attempts to impress on paper the strong connection between reality and his subconscious. Stavros Stamatiou is inspired by “the bizarre, the surreal, the hidden, the poetry of everyday life” and the elements his surroundings provide him with to create his own story. As he says, after all, “photography is a lie”, the photographer’s lie, hidden behind the lens. The book includes the author’s street work as it has evolved through the last fifteen years. It is a selection of some of his most favorite pictures that may come from different series, deeply connected by one unique purpose: to narrate life through an act of love.
Stavros is a pure photographer and for him each photograph must be candid and unstaged. He captures the “making in the making” of every moment, observing reality as it becomes an experience. Like Ermis Kasapis put it, some would say that this is the magic of photographic art. This is why he keeps wandering in the same places, wishing for a new scenario to appear in front of him, to capture the ephemerality and fluidity of existence.
Even to take the photograph included as a Fine Art print in the Black Edition of his book, the artist applied his photographic approach based on immediacy. He went back to look for a familiar subject, knowing that he only had 15 minutes before the light he wanted was gone. How did he manage to create such a wonderful image with so little time? Read on to find out.
Tell us more about the Black Edition shot. When and where was it taken? What experience does it portray?
I rarely travel, so most of my pictures have been taken within a 20 km radius from my home . This one is not an exception. It was made at the outskirts of Peraia, the town where I live. It was a rainy day in September 2019. I stared out of my window and I saw a perfect light painting the clouds with colors. I knew that I only had fifteen or twenty minutes in my disposal to capture this light.
Why did you decide to capture that precise moment? What drew you to it?
I left my home and I went to the nearest place where I could find the perfect theme: an old horse that had been my model many times in the past. When I got there, I found him grazing near some ruins. I selected my angle, made my frame and started taking some pictures when he suddenly turned his head behind his body. This was exactly what I was hoping for.
What do you like the most about that photograph?
It was not the first time that I had captured a headless horse, but I instantly knew that this was the picture I always had in mind. Not only because of the horse’s movement, but because of that special light that made it resemble the ruins in the background. It was no longer a horse but a sculpture of a horse. It is still one of my favorite pictures.
What camera and what lens did you use? What Diaphragm, shutter speed and ISO, and why?
For this picture I used my Sony a6000 camera, with the 16-50mm lens on. I selected the aperture priority mode, as I usually do when I want to do street photography. I wanted to have a sufficient depth of field and the ability to walk around my subject changing the background, focusing my attention only to the reactions of the horse. Settings used for this picture: 1/60 shutter speed, f/7.1, iso 800 , focal length 16 mm. Date/time: 23/09/2019, 7:46 pm.
When you’re doing something you love you can always find the time, and Stavros proves this by dedicating himself to the camera with a religious devotion. He does not need to go too far: the right scene can be found just a few kilometers from home. It is different lights, different subjects and angles that transport him each time to a different place.