Student Profile Annie Angelopoulo
Student Name: Annie Angelopoulou
City: Athens, Greece
Q. How did you first become interested in photography?
A. I was always interested in art, as I was painting when I was a young girl. I did not consider photography to be an art at that time, but when I first stumbled upon some great black-and-white pictures I realized that I loved the poetic, artistic language of a beautiful photograph. From then on, I wanted to study photography and seriously get involved in it but I never had the time to do it; my work and family obligations kept me away from that.
Q. Why did you choose NYI for your training?
A. In 2000 I finally decided to follow a one-year course in photography at the Hellenic Photographic Society and I bought my first professional camera and lenses. From that moment and on, I grabbed my camera at every occasion and recorded everything that seemed interesting. I started buying photo books with the works of the great masters of photography. However, I wanted to learn more about photography; I lacked the ability to choose my subject from all the interesting subjects around me.
In 2003 I started surfing the Internet for a reputable, international on-line university where I could continue my studies and I luckily found NYIP! I loved the information given to me by the NYIP faculty and I decided to enroll in the program. I enjoyed every moment of my three-year studies; and I was so eager to receive my folder back from NYIP with the comments of my instructor! I could have finished the program in less time, but my obligations kept me away from that. I finally got my diploma in 2006.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
A. I enjoy the ability to express my feelings through my photographs. I focus on people and their expressions. I love the way people express their feelings when not aware of a camera; thus I am fond of “street photography.” I enjoy shooting the antiquities—ancient buildings and statues—that are scattered around Greece in such bounty. The statues and marble seem alive in my eyes; they seem like they want to narrate the thousands-years’ story of my land.
Q. What are some of the more difficult challenges in your work?
A. Weddings are like a private celebration; the circle of beloved ones does not usually accept a stranger like the photographer. I, however, try to enhance my relationship with the couple in order to make them feel relaxed. I want them reassured that it is not only my duty but it is also my pleasure to record their happiness. This is a quite a challenging task since most of our chance to communicate is through e-mails and telephone calls.
The same holds true for non-wedding projects. When photographing I want to keep myself unnoticed by the people around me. Sometimes this is quite difficult especially when you enter a new place as a stranger; everybody seems to consider you as an invader. When this is the case, I introduce myself, keep a low profile, smile a lot and usually people feel more comfortable with me after a while. I want to record people’s feelings and these are rarely expressed when a stranger invades their space.
Q. How did you get your first paying job in photography?
A. In December 2005, I decided to make a photo website of some travel and portrait shots just to show my friends. I uploaded my photos to my newly created website and I almost forgot its existence. Around four months later I received an email from a couple from New York. They wanted to get married in Greece and they asked me if I wanted to be their wedding photographer.
I was astonished; I had never thought that I would shoot weddings. And there was no wedding gallery in my website! Most wedding photographers in Greece hate their work and this is apparent in their photos. They do it just for a living and they don’t strive for any artistic result.
That was my first wedding photo project. The couple loved my black-and-white shots and I was asked to shoot in only black and white. I was so frustrated that I asked a friend of mine who was a professional wedding photographer at that time to help me out and shoot some formal photos because I was not sure if I would get any respectable output. During their wedding day I worked as if I were a photojournalist and I forgot all my stress the moment I grabbed my camera. The couple loved the results and convinced me to apply for membership in WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association). I applied and I was accepted as a member in September ‘06! I was really happy! Since then, I keep photography as my first love. I love people and I love photography. I hope this love will get me as far as… who knows?
Q. How has your NYI training helped you?
A. NYIP helped me acquire an international touch in my photography that I wanted so much! I sought a different view on my photos; my instructor’s comments helped me improve my photographs.
The books and tapes given to me by NYIP are of great quality. I have thumbed through these books many times since my graduation; they proved a great guide to me!
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
A. “My” couples—“my” brides and grooms, as I call them—drove me into that! I enjoy photographing people in spontaneous, happy moments. And what is a better opportunity than a wedding?
Q. What was the origin of “I don’t forget…”?
A. Last year there was a devastating fire in the southern part of Greece (Ancient Olympia greater area) and seventy-three people died. There was a national bereavement for the loss of people and the millions of forest acres burnt. At that time many photojournalists from all over the world went to the burnt place to record the disaster. I don’t like to use my camera for recording tragedies, but I went to this place twice after this tragic event (3 months and 6 months after the fires) and I tried to record the hope springing from the disaster. I talked with people from villages and I saw them trying to reorganize their lives, I helped a group of volunteers plant new trees, I made the acquaintance of engineers who were building the new houses. It was one of the greatest experiences in my life.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. Photography is still my second job but I hope that I will be able to make it my main job without losing the freedom of expression in my photographs.
I want to be involved in a big photographic project and be accepted into a renowned artistic photo agency. I probably ask for too much, but why not? The sky is the limit, isn’t it?