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Interview with featured photographer Vasilis Ntaopoulos

From the series The fertile void

F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?

Vasilis Ntaopoulos: I got into photography in 2013, initially out of curiosity to learn how to use a small digicam I had around the house. Then, I found that the process of photography was a good excuse to get out of the house, walk and forget about everyday problems. As I started to invest more time in it, I decided to join a photography club in my town, and I slowly realized that Photography can be more than a hobby. It can act as a new language and an additional way of expression for me. However, what really sealed my relationship with Photography are the inherent qualities and limitations of the medium: the solitary and relatively direct creative process in the “here and now”, the relationship of photography with time, and finally the coexisting properties of fragmentation and autonomy that can be found in any photo.

F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your work “Fertile Void,” can you tell us about this project?

VN: One way to observe life is through the existential angst of a person to balance between fundamental oppositions such as life and death, freedom and limitation, loneliness and sense of belonging, meaning and futility. Through “the fertile void” project, I try to depict symbolically, the atmosphere of this endless striving for balance, which is always full of possibilities. Speaking on a more personal note, my engagement with this particular project has been one of my ways to process my relationship with people, loss, and particular circumstances of my life. It felt like trying to find the grey tones in areas which once seemed to lean more towards black or white.

From the series The fertile void

F-Stop: What is your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?

VN: My creative process is largely determined by the task at hand. For example, in “the fertile void” that is a conceptual work, when I concluded to its main thematic axis, I worked in two directions: on one hand, the side of inspiration and designing new images, and on the other of looking back at the already existing photos from my archive that could serve the basic idea. However, the inspiration for the production of new images, can come from everywhere: personal experiences, works by my favorite photographers, films, poems and even seemingly irrelevant conversations with friends.

F-Stop: How does your background as a social scientist influence or guide your photographs and projects?

VN: The truth is that I am affected a lot. My studies in Social Anthropology and Gestalt Psychotherapy have played an important role in how I observe, perceive and accept what is happening around me. I try to lean more towards understanding than judging. At the same time, I think that my discipline as a social scientist, towards a specific methodology, reflects in my photographic work too.

From the series The fertile void

From the series The fertile void

From the series The fertile void

F-Stop: What makes a “good” photograph to you – for this project specifically (or in general)?

VN: I don’t believe there is any specific recipe for a “good” photo. Speaking as a photographer, I consider a photo to be “good” when it serves the reason I took it for. On the other hand, speaking as a viewer/consumer of images, a “good” photo is one that will inspire me.

F-Stop: Which artists or photographers most inform your creative practice? And Why?

VN: My influences derive from a lot of different artists: Robert Adams, Paris Petridis, Luigi Ghirri, Yiorgos Lanthimos, Wim Wenders to name some. If I had to choose one though, I would say Alec Soth. I really appreciate the aesthetics of his photography, while most of his work stands in a perfect balance between intimacy and distance. I think this is something remarkable.

From the series The fertile void

F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?

VN: After three years of work on a very demanding concept such as “the fertile void”, now I feel the need to return to something more direct and straight forward. This period of time, I focus on a small side project about photographing a certain area by the river in my hometown Larissa, Greece.

To see more of Vasilis Ntaopoulos’ work visit F-Stop’s Portfolio 2023 issue and www.vasilisntaopoulos.com

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