Member in Focus | Spyros Catramis

Born in Athens, Greece, 1960, I recall photography was a childhood passion… I remember myself wandering around with a cheap camera, my favourite magic toy, taking photos of everyone and everything. I suppose that was the reason my father bought me a Nikon FM as a present for my 18 birthday.

However, I chose to study law (it was my deep need to know and fight for my rights and the rights of others), graduated from the University of Athens (1983) and later I obtained a post graduate Diploma of Research in Intellectual Property from the University of Grenoble, France (1983-1987).

It was during my stay in France, when my creative self kicked in and motivated me to take photography more seriously “for my own sake”, so I took my first photography lessons in «Atelier Nicéphore», in Grenoble (1984-1986).

I started with black & white photos, which I printed myself at home. Later, I experienced with colour photography and now I am almost exclusively into digital. My favourite kinds of photography are portrait, street, travel and abstract-graphic photography.

One of my most memorable trips was in the United Arab Emirates, in 2007. I was fascinated by Dubai, with its unique combination of tradition and modernism. I am planning to visit Dubai, hopefully in the near future, to shoot this amazing city again with a more mature eye.

I live in Athens, Greece.

1. What sparked your interest in photography?

I like to observe and point out the detail. I try to discover the invisible. When I feel moved, I just press the shutter button. But it isn't me "taking" the photo; it's rather the photo that is offered to me. A picture only captures the emotions I feel in a fragment of time thereby making that moment eternal. Thus, “now” is forever -just like true love. And that is, in the essence, photography: the creation of eternity.

2. When did you start shooting?

I started shooting at my early 20’s. But maybe it was in a past life…

3. How often do you shoot?

Ι have my camera with me all the time. When I feel inspired, I shoot.

4. Why do you love photography?

For me, photography is not merely about seeing and rendering in an image a perfect copy of the reality we see. Rather, photography is about conveying in a creative, genuine and meaningful way our feelings while facing the world that surrounds us. Photography is all about imagination, excitement, inspiration, passion and personal interpretation of reality. A picture can mean everything. It doesn't have only one meaning. On the contrary, it transcends it taking us to a place of mystery. Here, there aren't titles or captions. To find the meaning of a photo, you must let yourself be moved. This is the key to the explanation.

5. What gear do you own?

For 10 years I was shooting with M Leicas and four lenses, 21mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm. Now I exceptionally use my DSLR, I have become a “one camera one lens” photographer and use the Fujifilm X100S with the equivalent 35mm lens. I realized that to use only one lens is not a limitation, but rather an advantage. In this way you can focus in creativity rather than changing lenses. Gear is not so important. It’s the relationship you build with your camera that really matters. Your personal, unique view of things, experimentation and imagination are more important than a camera bag full of lenses. For me, there is no such thing as the best camera. Best camera is your camera, the one you are familiar with and love. The more you practice with it, the better pictures you take. Indeed, by mastering your camera you deepen your creativity. 

6. Other than your camera, what piece of equipment couldn’t you live without?

Spare batteries, memory cards and comfortable shoes!

7. Who are your biggest influences as a photographer?

Great photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ernst Haas, Richard Kalvar, Franco Fontana, Saul Leiter, William Albert Allard, Micha Bar Am, David Alan Harvey, Alex Webb and many others.

8. What’s your best advice for someone starting out?

Explore your own vision. And the advice of the Master Cartier-Bresson:  "Look first for composition and visual order and let the drama take care of itself".

9. Where can we see your work?

You can see my work on my website here, on lensculture here, and on flickr here.    

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