NERD welcomes Photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis: Q&A

We are absolutely delighted to introduce Manos to our continuously expanding talent roster. With his remarkable portfolio featuring delectable food photography, captivating portraits brimming with purpose, and the mesmerising landscapes of the Mediterranean, Manos brings a unique creative flair to our team. In an exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of discussing Manos’ portfolio, his award-winning image for the Portrait for Humanity, and the diverse array of influences that shape his distinctive style.

Your portfolio reflects a deep appreciation for light, composition, and the intricacies of imagery. Could you share a moment that sparked your fascination with these elements and ultimately led you to pursue photography as a career?

Creative expression comes from diverse parenthood. So many things in one’s life, many of them unconscious, contribute to one’s style. I suppose growing up in Greece, being familiar with strong light and shadows plays a role. Warm sun, reflections, the softness of the evening. These kinds of things. Working with great people as an assistant is also quite formative. Observing art plays its role, I suppose, as does literature. One resonates subconsciously with certain elements, with certain techniques. I believe in observing the world closely and photography is pretty much the profession to follow if you are like that and a horrid draughtsman at the same time.

Your food photography is described as natural yet inviting, every shot we look at just gives us that ‘yum’ feeling. How do you approach each food shoot to ensure the dishes not only look appealing but also tell a compelling story?

What’s important is to understand the food itself and what the shot is for. It’s like a portrait really, where you have to connect with the person at some level and convey something. I need to know what the food is about, where it comes from, and what traditions it’s connected with.

Then comes the technical part. Chat with the team if this is part of a production. Which bits need to be highlighted, how this particular food reacts with light and colour? And in the end, one has to have a story going. Where are we, where is this dish supposed to be, whose place is this? Even if it’s just a white background where the food is placed, it should bear the soul of the people involved in preparing it.

Your Mediterranean cultural roots shine through in the textures, shadows, and colours of your work. How do you incorporate your cultural influences into your photography, and how do you believe it sets your style apart in the industry?

I believe that one’s style has to be true to oneself to have some significance. I’m equally fascinated by the South as I am by the northern crisp sunlight or the shadows of an object lit through a window on a gloomy day. Maybe having lived in Germany and the UK, being originally from Greece.  I somehow came to understand and appreciate the southern narrative elements better and learn how to combine them with the northern ones. That might be one thing. And the other might be that I don’t particularly care for stereotypes and try to avoid them. Removing elements usually works better than adding.

Winning the Portrait of Humanity award and being shortlisted for prestigious awards like the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year demonstrate the recognition your work has received. Can you tell us a backstory of your Portrait of Humanity winning image?

Oh, I love this image. The great thing about living in London is that you rub shoulders with all those cultures, all those different people. The shot was made in Stamford Hill, where most of the Jewish Orthodox community lives. I was working on a book about Jewish kosher cuisine at the time and Purim was going on, a religious celebration similar to carnival. People get totally bonkers there during the festival. It’s a wonderful thing to observe and interestingly not many Londoners know about it. I was roaming the streets, camera in hand and these kids were just coming out of their place to join the festivities. I took a shot, then they noticed me and as they gave me a shy smile I managed another two shots. One of them made the Portrait of Humanity competition. A lovely moment.

And to finish off, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

Here’s two:
I love Superbad.  
When I edit photos I listen to weird, modular, glitch music. Or Frank Zappa’s mad guitar riffs.

See more from Manos here.

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