Portraying Serenity Through an Architectural Perspective
Greek photographer Yiorgos Kordakis captures the most beautiful and sober minimalistic architectural sceneries. Focusing on pureness and serenity and ridding us of “visual pollution,” he imagines the world how it should be. After having studied automobile design in Turin and media management in London, Yiorgos returned to his home country to serve in the air force. He never anticipated becoming a photographer, but life proved itself to be surprising and unexpected because, after some experimenting, it led him to a professional career in photography. Today, he has been working as a freelance photographer for more than twenty years in New York and Athens. Yiorgos’ works vary between capturing interior, architecture, and people, and he also worked in black and white and with polaroids. By instinct, the artist is drawn most to architectural photography. His imagery has a soft and sober feel while making the architecture and sites come into their own. His photos have been published in internationally-renowned magazines such as Vogue UK, Elle, Architectural Digest, and more, and he has won several awards. Yiorgos tells us more about his path to a career in photography and shooting with perspective.
VISUAL PLEASURE Magazine: Did you always want to be a photographer?
Yiorgos Kordakis: No, I never dreamed of it. I certainly liked photography as a teenager but no, that was not what I had in mind about my future.
What drew you to photography in the first place?
Random circumstances lead me to start experimenting and eventually become confident. I was very lucky at the beginning of my career. People believed in me and gave me opportunities, especially in the magazines’ world.
I read that you studied media and automobile design. So, are you self-taught in photography and did you ever think about studying photography?
Ha, yes I am self-taught. I only had a one-term darkroom course at university back in the ‘90s in which my teacher promised me I would never be a photographer! I wasn’t offended as I didn’t care to be one, but it is kind of funny in retrospect.
Can you tell me a bit more about what you do exactly?
I started as a commercial photographer but halfway through my journey, I felt I needed to express my creativity in a personal way. I then started working on my own projects. Today, I split my time between clients and my own work. Sometimes I am lucky enough to combine both through commissions. My clients are architectural firms, hotel chains, and designers of different sorts. My personal projects are always different from each other. I get passionate about an idea, then once I feel I covered the subject, I move on to the next one. The process usually takes years in between projects.
How did you establish your style and how would you describe it?
Starting as a self-taught photographer has the advantage of pureness. You get to choose your own path without any rules or guidelines in mind. For some, this could prove to be a blessing. In my case it was just natural; it seemed like I always knew. Of course, I made a lot of mistakes and had to learn from them, but that is the point, right? I started before the digital transformation of the medium, I, therefore, had to adapt along the way. My style has definitely evolved as it should follow the cataclysmic changes of the technology, but it somehow seems to me that my perspective has been pretty much consistent.
What drove you to photograph architecture?
I think many of your images look sober and serene. Is that an important theme or style in your photographs?
Yes, it is. I don’t like busyness. Most of us live in metropolitan areas. There is air pollution, a lot of noise, and in many cases “visual pollution” like signs, cars, cables, etc. It is there, but most people don’t realize the fatigue of it. I don’t care to reproduce any of that in my images. In fact, I am interested in how “it should be” rather than how it actually is. Having said that, I am not deleting much stuff on photoshop. I prefer to try and find the right location or create a minimalistic approach by using the right lens and distance.
What’s the main focus when photographing architecture?
I like to think of architecture as a sculptural installation. Sometimes it is very easy, sometimes not. Light is, of course, a photographer’s friend and this is the most important element when shooting architecture. What’s most important though, is to keep a distance from things otherwise you are simply recording what you see. For me, it is not about a simple recording. You need to add some of your perspective and feeling about whatever it is you are shooting.
Sometimes there are people involved in your photos. What do you love to photograph the most, people or architecture?
A combination of two is my favorite. My latest art project is all about that. It’s about shooting humans (mainly women) within an architectural context. Let’s call it an architectural portrait. I like to think there is a distant feel, a distant perspective. I am also interested in involving a group of people rather than just one person.
What makes you take a picture of something? What is it that catches your eye and draws you in?
It is an automatic response, it is not really a conscious process. If I need to answer this question with one word, I guess it would be geometry.
What do you try or want to capture with your photography?
It obviously depends on the kind of photography. I couldn’t answer this question in one way. Generally speaking, the important thing for me is to please my eyes first. If I see beauty in something, I need to capture it in order to keep that moment forever. Otherwise, I create images in my mind and then try to execute that same image into reality.
Why did you choose polaroid photos instead of traditional photos for some of your past art projects?
It was a counter reaction to the digital madness. Everybody was so obsessed with digital that I decided to go the opposite way. If you think about it, polaroid (in fact the whole instant film technology) is the ancestor of digital. Remember back in the day, we were shooting film and in some cases, we had to wait for weeks in order to see the result of our work. With instant film (just like digital) you get to see the result right away! I also realized in the process that shooting with a large-format camera and polaroids was 100 percent “compatible” with my aesthetics at the time. I have since quit using both but I miss it a lot.