Thodoris Markou

4/9/2010 04:48:54


Thodoris Markou, photo by Th. Chliapas
Thodoris Markou is a young & talented creative with a true passion for photography and especially portraits & conceptual projects. He may started his artistic pursuits accidentally as he mentions, but his work so far proves that he was probably destined to capture beauty through photographic lens! I’m sure you’ll love reading his interesting views as much as I did!

Hey Thodori, welcome to EyeCandies. Tell us what fuels your passion for photography and how did it all start?

My entanglement with photography was accidental – when I was doing my army service, back in 2006, I had a lot of spare time so I toyed with a film camera I had acquired a while back. Soon, I was captivated by the photographic creation process, and photography became the most important part of my life. As for my passion, this is simple – when I make a good photograph, I experience fulfillment – you could say I am a photography junkie. Therefore, I am in constant pursuit of my next dose.

Most of your photo projects are conceptual and I distinguish a preference towards black and white shots. How do you communicate your ideas visually? Give us a brief description of a particular project of your choice.

I would not say that most of my projects are conceptual. I consider myself a portrait photographer and only recently I started visualizing conceptual projects and begun working on them. On such a project (and on standalone portraits, indeed), my aim is to communicate feelings to the viewer. I have a soft spot for paranoia, melancholy and loneliness and naturally I try to express these feelings through my photos. Take Quiet House, for example – it’s a huge empty building up in a mountain near Athens that, upon sight, fills you with awe. I wanted to record its emptiness to the fullest, so I created the kind of characters which would express the feelings of being lost, of being alone, of the complete silence that characterizes such a setting.
Have you experimented with Polaroid or older cameras and if yes, what do you think makes the difference in comparison to new media?

After that first brief encounter with analog photography that started it all, I moved to digital. It was a choice based on the cost-effectiveness of the digital media, and obviously I thought that being able to see a photo immediately after I made it, was a godsend. However, I soon became disillusioned with the process – I realized I was spending more time in front of a computer screen than behind the camera. So, in 2008, I started migrating to analog, by acquiring a very old (and very cheap) medium format camera – it was a german Twin Lens Reflex camera dating back to 1958. This old beast yielded some magnificent photos and I was instantly hooked. Film changed my way of thinking – now I’m 99% analog. I keep digital around for specific uses (mostly concert photography and other kinds of photo-reportage) but my heart is not up to it – I only feel joy when I use film. You ask me about the difference? Film makes you think more – you don’t have instantaneous feedback, so you put more thought into a photograph before you take it. Film has soul, it has personality – it is made up from chemicals, it has grain, it has imperfections – it is alive and you can feel it. Many people may not agree with my opinion but, hey, it is the medium that allows me to express myself.
How do you choose your models and sets for a photo shoot? Have you ever found yourself in a weird situation during a session?

There is not a specific process to it. I have a lot of concepts in my mind, and I constantly look out for faces that match with my ideas. If I see a face that I want to photograph, sooner or later I pop the question. As it is obvious from my photographs, almost all of these faces are female – I have a weakness, I confess. Most girls are shy but quite a lot have no problem with posing for me. I can’t remember a really weird situation – photoshoots are usually joyous – we laugh a lot and we enjoy ourselves. One recent funny incident I can remember was during a fashion-like photoshoot: the model was wearing a wedding gown and we went to a grocery store at Kolonaki – on our way there everybody was looking at us and one guy stood with his mouth open as we were passing by and said loudly “oh how pretty she is” – luckily the model didn’t hear it at the time, she would have turned red out of embarrassment.

Who are the photographers that inspire you and why?

You got me there. I am ashamed to say that I have not studied the history of photography as much as I would like to. I see a lot of photographs but I never give them the time they deserve. I like the classic documentary photographers, H.C. Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt. However, I feel I am most influenced by portrait photographers like Francesca Woodman and Sally Mann. My latest discovery was Vivian Maier, nothing to do with portraits but a lot to do with photographic paranoia – this woman spent almost all of her life documenting the world around her with a Twin Lens Reflex camera, but she never showed any of her photographs to another human being – her work only became public when somebody bought her unexposed films – there were hundreds of them. This woman took photos and didn’t even bother to see the outcome – she was doing it for herself, for the joy she felt went she pressed the shutter… isn’t this photographic self-analysis a beautiful and mysterious thing?
Do you have a very special photograph that you are emotionally attached to? What’s the story behind it?

I am emotionally attached to all of my photographs – each “good” photograph creates two moments of ecstasy, the one being when I press the shutter and think “I’ve got it” and the other when I see the result, days later, and I’m proven right. These twin moments of ecstasy are burned into my memory, and when I see the photographs later, I remember these moments and feel bliss. Obviously there are a lot of cases when I was proven wrong and I didn’t really get it – they are also remembered – you should love each failure as much as you love each success – you just needn’t feel happy about it.

What part of Athens inspires you and why?

I love the old neoclassical buildings of Athens – I love the way they were built, the way their space was arranged, their elegance and their style. Compared to modern buildings, they are inefficient and have a lot of imperfections – well, I think that their inefficiency gives them atmosphere – I am terribly bored of efficiency, it tends to be dull and devoid of life. I am obsessed with wooden floors, windows, dead corners, high ceilings. I don’t care much about the city itself – it is a great place to spend your night-time but a nightmare during day-time. I have to conclude that Athens, as a city, has never really inspired me.

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Thodori thank you for participating in the EyeCandies Blog. Would you like to add anything else?

It was a great experience answering all these questions – I thought it would be easy but it soon became a two-way interaction. While every person has a definite knowledge of his/her likes and wants, his/her feelings and thoughts, the process of putting everything in words for another person to read is quite a trial and develops into a psychological tidying-up. Thank you for this gift..!