We are very happy to award Bill Gekas photographer of the week! Bill is an outstanding portrait and children's photographer always coming up with new creative ideas and settings. Many thanks to Yvette Depaepe for doing this interview. As always, you will find more photos by Bill at the end of the interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born and raised in Melbourne Australia. Melbourne is the place where I currently reside. Although my main interest is the craft of photography and visual arts in general, photography is not my full time profession. I successfully own and operate a manufacturing business in the construction sector. As I'm involved in a profession which is completely unrelated to my main interest I need an insanity to stay sane, it just so happens that photography is my insanity.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography? Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
As much as I know, what I want to achieve on a piece by piece basis, I don't believe I have found my photographic vision yet. Subconsciously I hope I never to find it. The photographic journey I've decided to take has made me discover as much about other people as about myself, both the good and the bad and I believe the discovery occurs on the journey. I think finding your vision is akin to arriving at the destination. Personally I don't think I want to arrive just yet!
What first attracted you to photography?
I've always been interested in the visual arts but could never draw or paint so photography was going to be the medium I was going to use. My first encounter with photography was when I was 6 years old. We were living in London for a few years and my father bought a Pentax ME-Super slr film camera. The whole photography process just slowly grew on me from there and it wasn't until many years later in my 20's that I started taking it a lot more seriously as an artistic pursuit.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
Although most of my portfolio and awarded work is of my young daughter, it's not just about children photography for me. My chosen genre is portraiture in general, portraiture with a fine art surreal aesthetic.
Why are you so drawn to children photography?
One thing when photographing children in these conceptual scenes is that people can relate to children in art as they see the connection to their own children or even themselves. The child in conceptual type works is sort of considered a metaphor, a universal child.
What is more important to you, the story behind an image or the technical perfection?
In my opinion the story in an image always trumps the technicals. You can have a technically perfect image but if the story, emotion or atmosphere doesn't exist then it's just a showcase of the photographers technical understanding of the craft. The technicals of photography can always be mastered and for some people a lot quicker than for others but mastering the art of photography is a lifelong journey. However combining both the art and technical perfection in your work surely gets people looking twice, and given the flood of visuals that cross us in this day and age that has to be a good thing.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I find the connection between photographer and subject usually reflects back to the end viewer. If the photographer is merely an observer the end viewer is also an observer. Although some photographers intentionally create work that is also a type of reflection of themselves, it's something I try to avoid in my own work, unfortunately though this can be challenging as it can happen on a subconscious level.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Although there are many amazing photographers out there a few current photographers I have a lot of respect for their works are Dan Winters, Erwin Olaf, Eugenio Recuenco, Paolo Roversi. At the same time though I also believe that in the whole scheme of things photography is a fairly recent invention and it's very limiting to be only inspired by photographers. Photography being just another visual medium means inspiration should be sought from all visual mediums, be it paintings, drawings, sculptures etc. This ultimately opens up a much larger timeline to be inspired from. I have a lot of appreciation for the works by the old master painters such as Vermeer, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Rembrandt and the atmosphere in their works finds a way of influencing my own.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
Any change in direction will just be an evolutionary step from the current style I'm working to, but it will always be portraiture with a fine art, surreal aesthetic. I believe the directional change will be from the painterly style I am known for to perhaps a more simplistic minimalistic approach, both technically and aesthetically. As much as I enjoy this painterly style, I still believe it is just a stepping stone to where it will end up. The beauty of this craft is that it is an open game and there is plenty of room for exploration.
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