George Digalakis is an accomplished photographer, specializing in Fine Art minimal photography, through which he tries to convey the beauty of nature, with his own distinctive, black and white language. His passion for photography is harmoniously combined with his love for travel and the exploration of new landscapes and places, stimuli for the creation of his unique minimalist world. Graphic Art News had the pleasure to interview George and learn more about him and the mysterious melancholy his images convey.
1. Hello George. Let’s start with your background in photography. Can you share with the readers of Graphic Art News your journey?
Mostly self-taught, I have only taken a correspondence photography course for 2 years (2008-2010), under the supervision of Tasos Schizas. I became acquainted with classic and contemporary photographers and realized this medium would offer me a getaway from reality and enable me to express my inner world. Since then, I have been practicing photography and image editing almost every day, while on the same time studying photography tutorials, history of art and the work of the great photographers of the past.
2. Tell us about your first introduction to photography. What drew you into this world?
My first contact with photography was back in 1974, when I received a “Nettar” as a gift from my father. Since then, the camera became an integral part of my daily life. Initially, it was just a record of the important moments of my life, but gradually, as I got acquainted with the work of the great photographers of the past and especially black and white, minimalist photography, I realized that through this medium I could express an aspect of myself that until then had remained silent. Photography proved to be a permanent source of inspiration and life-changing experience.
3. Can you describe the workflow of your final image from the point of the concept to the final outcome?
Fine art photography requires an idea and a lot of preparation and post-processing. I could talk about this theme for hours, but I will only give here a brief description of the process. If the readers are interested in the details, I have written an article about it on my blog: https://www.portfoliobox.net/pb4/admin#/blog/workflow-from-conception-to-realization.
Conceptualization. A place I have visited, heard about, or just seen in other images is usually the motivation for a trip to a specific place. On other occasions, an object, like a tree or rock, encountered in my daily life, a piece of literature I’ve read, an idea, or even a dream can be the trigger for the initial concept of a work.
Preparation. Preparation for photoshoot has 3 main components – proper equipment, meteorological data, and virtual exploration of the area to be visited.
On-site scouting. The average time for taking a long exposure photo is well over 10 – 15 min, so choosing the right composition, point of view, and exposure time is a necessity. It’s worth exploring your subject from every possible point of view beforehand.
Shooting. Using ND filters creates some distinct problems regarding photometry and focusing. All the measurements are made before attaching the filters and then the camera is put in manual focus and the exposure time in Bulb Mode. Needless to say that shooting in RAW is essential.
Choosing my keepers. Before starting to edit my images, I have to choose the best; the ones that suit our vision and intention.
Processing. I spend a considerable amount of time (reaching up to 5 hours in some cases) processing my images. I try to convey feelings with my work, and this requires a very fine tuning of the tones in order to achieve the right atmosphere.
Printing. An image on the computer screen is nothing more than pixels in a hard drive. It is never finished until it gets printed on a suitable fine art paper. Of course, it costs a lot to print all of your images in real size, but I can get an idea by printing them in my home printer and then choose the best and send them to a professional laboratory. Holding the final print in my hands is the final – and often most rewarding step in my workflow.
4. Your images are distinguished for their palpable stillness and mysterious melancholy. What are they aiming to portray to your viewers?
Light is everything in photography. But this is not what I most remember about these remote aquatic ecosystems I photograph; it is silence. A deep silence unknown in urban areas, a secret garden that inspires me to create peaceful images with a “zen” quality. I try to create minimalist images, characterized by, and evoking feelings of order, silence, and a peaceful, yet often sorrowful and lonesome atmosphere.
I am inspired by and trying to express through my art an idealized nature, which suits my melancholic and introverted character; a nature without any distracting elements, serene, and beautiful, born from my love of silence and solitude. My images aim to help people discover the beauty of the world as I see it … and, maybe, a part of my inner self.
5. What can you tell us about your post-production/editing of your images? What kind of programs are you using?
Fine art photography relies heavily on editing. “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships,” as said Ansel Adams, who is known to have been spending a whole day in the dark room just to produce a single print. In the same way, I spend a lot of time processing my images. I try to convey feelings with my work, and this requires a very fine tuning of the tones in order to achieve the right atmosphere. I also remove elements, which I think distract from my subject, and of course I remove color. Reality is perceptual and through its transformation I can interpret what surrounds me, express my emotions, and create a new world. To achieve these goals, I use RAW Converter and Photoshop. Silver efex pro (Google Nik Collection) is another tool I often use to convert my images to Black and White.
6. Are all your landscapes from Greece?
My images are mainly from Greece, but not only. I love traveling and I have visited a lot of places around the world.
7. Did you ever face any danger while you were photographing a place?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt a threat to my physical integrity in any place I’ve visited. I’ve had my car broken into and my equipment stolen, I’ve photographed on dangerous cliffs and lost pieces of equipment due to strong winds or carelessness, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt in immediate danger.
8. How important is weather to your landscape photography?
Weather conditions are a major factor for a successful outing. I prefer low-contrast scenes while moving clouds or mist are an essential part of my images, and therefore checking a meteorological site in advance is a must. Unfortunately, predicting the weather is not yet a precise science. I’ve often travelled a long way to my chosen location, and instead of the promised cloudy sky or misty conditions, I found myself in a sunny environment totally unsuitable for the kind of images I have imagined.
9. What are your upcoming projects and plans? Are you planning any exhibition soon?
I just had two solo exhibitions in Athens (November 2022) and Sofia (December 2022), so it’s too early to think about the next one. I don’t have other plans for the near future either. At the moment, I’m preparing for the two workshops that I will hold in February in Mesolongi and Axios National Park and then I hope to find some free time to finish my new tutorial about Long Exposure Photography. I still have to decide on my next project, exhibition, and maybe book, so 2023 will probably be a year of introspection.
10. What 3 words describe your photography style?
Minimal – Black and White – Melancholy.
11. You have been awarded several times. What an award means to you?
Motivation and recognition. All of us have gone through periods of doubt and uncertainty and winning an award could offer a lift of spirit that is really needed during these periods. Back in 2014, it was a silver award in Px3 competition for my “Ode to Joy” that gave me the confidence I needed and helped me realize my work could stand in the international arena. Without doubt it was a milestone in my career. And of-course an award is an opportunity for self-promotion.
12. Tell us about the current position of your career. Which galleries represent you? Where can we find your works for sale?
It’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t see my path in photography as a career or as a source of income either. Besides, it’s not my main occupation. I practice photography because I like being in nature and because it offers me a way out of everyday life. I sell my works through Saatchi Art and my site. Some of my works are also represented by ECAD gallery, a small gallery in London.
13. If you could hand one of your pieces to any artist in person, who would it be?
Michael Kenna has been my main influence in photography, and I would like to meet him in person. I don’t know if he would be interested to own one of my works though.
14. What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photography artist today?
Find your style and be authentic.
Thank you, George. Your words will inspire many young artists.
I am sure Michael Kenna would love to own one of your works.
A few words about George Digalakis
George Digalakis is an accomplished photographer, specializing in Fine Art, minimal photography, through which he tries to convey the beauty of nature, with his own distinctive, black and white language. His passion for photography is harmoniously combined with his love for travel and the exploration of new landscapes and places, stimuli for the creation of his unique minimalist world.
He was born and raised in Athens, Greece. A medical doctor by profession, he still lives and works in Athens. Although he has been involved in many hobbies, such as chess and diving, it took him forty years to discover his true passion for the art of photography.
Born in a country with more than 1000 islands, he developed a close relationship with the sea, and he feels that this connection is the driving force behind his love for seascapes. George rarely tries to capture the moment and finds that by ignoring reality he can best convey his inner vision and underlying emotions. Subjects that convey feelings of loneliness, isolation, and melancholy are his preferred themes, with bare trees in the water, old piers, and interesting rocks being recurring themes. Purity of space and thought, vast waterscapes, sense of echoing space, and the removal of the distracting elements, characterize his work.
Currently, he has been involved as an educator, teaching the techniques of long exposure, landscape photography to photographers from all over the world. He is organizing workshops in some of the most interesting locations around Greece and has published the tutorial “The Essential Guide to Fine Art Photography”. Educational articles have been published on LEMAG Magazine, Dejavu Magazine, Minimalism Magazine, etc.
He had four solo exhibitions in Ioannina 2015, Athens 2018, Thessaloniki 2018, and Athens 2022 and has participated in more than fifty group exhibitions around the world. His work has been recognized in Greece, winning the prestigious “Hermes” Award of the Hellenic Photographic Society and in many international competitions, such as Px3, Sony World Photography Award, Siena Awards, TIFA Foto Awards, etc. He has been published in various magazines and sites, including LensWork magazine, Zoom Magazine, LEMAG magazine, etc.
In 2020 George was one of the 6 photographers included in the documentary series “Hunters of Eternity” for the Greek television, while in 2021 he has been awarded the title “Photographer of the Year” at Visions International Photo Awards, Toulouse, France.
George is represented by ECAD Gallery (London) and Saatchi Art (USA).