Stavros Stamatiou

We are very proud and honored to present our new member. The Greek master of shadows and light, the teacher from western Macedonia, Full Frontals representative in the Thermaic Gulf, the one and only Stavros Stamatiou!

Welcome to Full Frontal Stavros, we’re happy to have you with us.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I come from Greece and I’m 56 years old. I have three wonderful children and a grandchild, the light of my life. I have worked as a primary school teacher since 1988. I currently live in Peraia, a suburb of Thessaloniki, a place that I came to love because of photography. 

When did you start with photography and more importantly when and why did you start to use a flash?
From the time I was a student I remember myself using my father’s camera. I have always been interested in the arts, mostly music, literature, paintings and, of course, the movies and I always thought that photography could be a way to express myself.

It took me a lot of time, however, to unlock its secrets. I had to study the work of the masters of photography and at the same time I had to work on an almost every day basis to achieve it. But the most important condition was that, since I rarely travel, I practiced photography at the same places, in a range of 20 kilometers around my home. Taking pictures of the same things over and over again in every possible light condition helped me to pass gradually underneath the surface of things. I managed to use my camera not as a photocopier of the world but as a mirror, to use fragments of space and time, these little pieces of reality, in order to talk about myself. 

For several years I was studying the natural light and I had chosen to work exclusively with it. My need to deepen my approach led me to expand my expressive means. So it was about ten years ago that I started experimenting with my on-camera flash and/or with low shutter speed, with or without a tripod. As it turned out, it was not only a thrilling experience but also a tool with unlimited potential, which I have never stopped using since.  

Could you describe your photographic style?
I believe that I have developed a personal style over the years, but I am not sure that I can describe it in words. I enjoy when people who are familiar with my photography can recognize my new pictures even before they see my name under them.

Show us some of your work with flash and tell us something about them.

This picture was taken in 2014 at one of my most favorite places for photography, near the ancient town of Aenea. I was about to leave the place after spending two productive hours of shooting there, when I saw a herd of sheep descending from the cliff. I started approaching it in order to speak to the shepherd- I had a print in my car for him. When I was close enough, the sheep had already started climbing on the other side. For a moment they stood and looked at me and I saw their silhouettes in the twilight. I took three shots using my on-camera flash to make their eyes glow, before they disappeared over the hill…
I was taking pictures of a mare and her foal when a male horse came and irritated her. She suddenly kicked him and they started running towards me. I took this picture with my hand backwards while I was running to get out of the way.
He was a really punctual cat. I watched  him for three nights in a row making the same jump from one back yard to another. All I had to do was to prepare my camera settings and wait for the next passing.
Winter evening and the waves were crashing over the jetty. As I approached I noticed a bunch of kids playing with the spray of seawater. Carrying a weather sealed camera and lens, I didn’t hesitate at all joining their game in my own way.
Wandering in the same places over and over again, I always inwardly nurture the hope that I will find the landscape changed, that someone  will do something to offer me new material. In one of the, admittedly rare, such cases I saw a nymph in her blue dress leaning against a tree. Two shots were enough. I visited the place again the day after, out of sheer curiosity. The nymph was no longer there.

Thanks Stavros and again, welcome to Full Frontal Flash -we are really looking forward to have you in our collective.