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Nikos Economopoulos
Nikos Economopoulos

Nikos Economopoulos

Country: Greece
Birth: 1953

Nikos Economopoulos (b.1953) is a Greek photographer known for his photography of the Balkans and of Greece in particular. Born in Kalamata, Economopoulos studied law at university and worked as a journalist. He only started taking photographs at 25 when a friend in Italy showed him a book of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, which had an impact that was both instant and lasting. Cartier-Bresson "showed me a new way to see things... What I saw in his work was not only geometry and composition, but a kind of ambiguity." Economopoulos recalls that even then he did not start photography for over two years but instead bought photography books. Then he started photography:

"I never photographed sunrises or made souvenir pictures of my children. For about eight or nine years I photographed at weekends and during my holidays, always in a serious way, working from morning to night."

As early as 1984, Economopoulos says, "it bothered me ideologically that Greeks and Turks were enemies", and he visited Turkey to take photographs. "No Greek at that time would go to Turkey on holiday", he writes, and his Greek friends were incredulous; but Economopoulos quickly felt at home in Turkey, where the atmosphere "was exactly the same as when I was a kid in the 1960s." (Much later, he would add that Greece and western Turkey had replaced tavernas with McDonald's, while east Turkey still preserved the values of the past.)

In 1988, Economopoulos finished work as a journalist and set off on a two-year photographic survey of Greece and Turkey. Nikos Economopoulos was encouraged to join Magnum Photos by the Greek-American photographer Costa Manos, and became an associate member in 1990 and, after his work in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and the former Yugoslavia, a full member in 1994. His early work won him the 1992 Mother Jones Award for Documentary Photography.

In 1993, Frank Viviano, who had first met Economopoulos in Timișoara just after the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu, wrote that: "Economopoulos says his intention is to document the existence of what he calls the 'Balkan Man': to knit together the skeins of a collective identity in a region whose historical convulsions have made its name a synonym for implacable differences. It would appear to be a fool's errand. But almost anyone who has crossed the madman's web of frontiers and borders that stretches over the Balkans, from Istanbul to the Italian border, is likely to agree with Economopoulos's premise — and to recognize, in his work, the contradictions that sum up Balkan truth."

With support from the Little Brothers of the Poor, in 1994 Economopoulos photographed gypsies in Greece, and in 1995–96 lignite miners and Muslims in Greece. In 1997–98 he concentrated on people living on the "Green Line" separating Northern Cyprus, illegal migration across the Albanian–Greek border, and young people in Tokyo; and for the next two years Albanians fleeing Kosovo. He also worked on a commission from the University of the Aegean on storytelling in the region.

Economopoulos was dissatisfied with the assignment in Japan, as he felt unable to communicate with people and was just as estranged after three weeks of work as he had been on his arrival. By contrast, he writes that "I prefer to spend my time in my corner of the world, south Europe and west Asia, where I understand the codes and can make connections." This does not mean that the Balkans are an open book to him: Economopoulos has also written of the paradoxes apparent in Albania; and also across the Balkans, where faces can be sad even in wedding parties.

Economopoulos's photography of Turkey won him the 2001 Abdi İpekçi Award for promoting friendship between Turkey and Greece. Painfully aware of the bitterness often encouraged in both Greece and Turkey toward the other, he has written appreciatively of the personal welcome given to him by the Turks that he meets.

"There are no real differences [between Greeks and Turks]. I love Turkey and I can live there. I can't live in Paris or in London. But Istanbul — I can live there."

Economopoulos's photographs have been published in The Guardian, The Independent, Le Monde, Libération, The New York Times, El País, and Die Zeit. He feels that there is no future in photojournalism. There is a loss of quality in photographs in newspapers, and Robert Capa would not take photographs if he were living today. But he concedes that Abbas and James Nachtwey would be among those who disagree.

Source: Wikipedia


In the mid-1990s, he started photographing the Roma and other minorities. In 2000, he completed a book project on the Aegean islands storytellers, commissioned by the University of the Aegean. A retrospective of his work titled Economopoulos, Photographer was published in 2002 and later exhibited at the Benaki Museum, Athens.

Returning to Turkey, he pursued his long-term personal project, where he received the Abdi Ipektsi award (2001), for peace and friendship between Greek and Turkish people.

He has recently turned to the use of color. Currently, he is spending most of his time away from Greece, traveling, teaching and photographing around the world, in the context of his long-term On The Road project.

Source: Magnum Photos


 

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United States
1931 | † 2006
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Deb Schwedhelm
United States
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Deb Schwedhelm was originally trained as a Registered Nurse and subsequently spent 10 years employed as an Air Force Nurse. Although she has been passionate about photography since her early 20s, it wasn't until Deb left the military that she was able to pursue the medium as a full-time career.Deb's photographs have been exhibited widely and featured in numerous publications throughout the world. She has received awards from Photolucida, Portland, OR; PhotoNOLA, New Orleans, LA; MPLS Photo Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Perfect Exposures Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; A. Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX; Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe, NM; and The Art of Photography Show, San Diego, CA. Her photographs have also been selected for the permanent collection of The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO.Deb is married to a Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer and she is the mother to three children, who are often the subjects of her photographs. Deb is currently based in Tampa, Florida and will be moving to Yokosuka, Japan summer 2014. All about Deb Schwedhelm:AAP: Where did you study photography?I purchased a DSLR and began teaching myself photography in 2006. Prior to that, I was a Registered Nurse in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years.AAP: Do you have a mentor or role model?Jock Sturges has been mentoring me for the past few years and I'm so grateful for all that he has shared with me.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?While I don't remember my first shot (because I was too busy trying to learn photography at that time), I do remember my first commissioned portrait session. It was with a family that lived down the street. One of the photographs (boxer boy) still remains one of my favorites, especially remembering back to how new I was to photography.AAP: What or who inspires you?As cliche as it may sound, I truly draw so much inspiration from my children. My middle child (10 yo) very much gets me. When I take her out to photograph, I leave with a vision and a plan, but based on her actions, I typically end up dumping any plan that I had and we just mesh with one another. She'll tell you that I often say to her, "just keep doing what you're doing." I also am very much inspired by dance and music.AAP: How could you describe your style?Raw, real and emotive.AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?Above water: Nikon D3S, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8In the water: SPL housing,Nikon D700 and a 35mm f/2.0.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose?No, I don't really spend a lot of time editing my digital images. I do my best to get it right in camera, which makes the editing process very simple. I work mostly in Lightroom but I do bring my black and white images into Photoshop for a bit of fine-tuning. Basically, I want my editing to look pure, while gently enhancing the overall essence and feeling of the photograph.AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?Sally Mann, Jock Sturges and Mary Ellen Mark have been my favorites from the very beginning.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Work to master your technique -- and your artistry. Work really hard. Be dedicated, committed and determined. Never stop exploring, reflecting, learning and growing. Have patience. Know that the journey of photography is not always an easy one, but it is an absolutely amazing one. Be authentic and make genuine connections. Remember to be grateful, kind and giving. Do your best and don't ever give up!AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?The greatest gifts a photographer could give themselves is allowing time and being patient. AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?I would love to share a couple of photography projects that I recently learned about and am inspired by...I had the opportunity to take a workshop from Mary Ellen Mark and I'm greatly inspired by her work and authenticity (both professionally and personally). She and her husband recently launched a kickstarter campaign, which I am thrilled to support: STREETWISE: Tiny RevisitedAnd 'The Return' kickstarter is another project I am happy to support. It is so incredibly beautiful and heartfelt: The return: Book ProjectLove these words shared in the project video: "State the intention for spirit to be present in your finished object, it will be. My soul need these images."AAP: What are your projects?For the past few years, I have been working on my 'From the Sea' series. This summer, I am planning to travel the US for a few months and will not only be photographing in various bodies of water across the US, I am also planning to launch a new project. While I'm not quite ready to release details of my new project, I hope you'll stay tuned.AAP: Your best memory as a photographer?Wow, that's a tough question. Receiving that first message from Jock Sturges was pretty darn amazing and winning photoNOLA was such an incredible gift. I never saw either coming.AAP: The compliment that touched you most?Every compliment greatly touches me. I truly am so appreciative for all that others share with me.AAP: If you were someone else who would it be?I'm quite happy being me and can't imagine being anyone else. AAP: Your favorite photo book?Oh how I love photography books. I have so many that proudly grace my bookshelves -- books which I've collected over the years. Sally Mann's Immediate Family was the first photography book I owned so it's pretty special. I also had the opportunity to have Sally Mann sign my books last summer, while attending her talk at the University of Michigan.AAP: Anything else you would like to share?No matter what your personal journey, don't be afraid to dream and dream big -- you just never know what's possible with a little dreaming and a lot of hard work. Don't forget the importance of authenticity and don't ever forget to share your gratitude with those who have assisted you.Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to share. This has been the most amazing journey and I'm beyond grateful.
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