Yiannis Yiasaris named Best Black and White Photographer for 2016

The Australian Photography Award winner talks to Neos Kosmos

A much-deserved distinction was awarded to Yiannis Yiasaris last week. The Greek self-taught photographer was named Best Black and White Photographer in Australia.

Yiasaris, 48, who was also among the best five street and black and white Australian photographers last year, moved Down Under 15 years ago after meeting his wife in Greece.

Photography, however, is a passion he discovered less than four years ago. It was through social media and Facebook that he first came across other people’s professional photographs and decided to go for it.

“I was looking at those images and I loved being able to break them down into moments and frames and make stories out of them,” he explains.

“I kept telling myself I could do this and downloaded Instagram, where I started experimenting with filters. I even won some online competitions. It’s never too late!”

A little over three years ago Yiasaris bought his first DSLR camera without knowing a thing about photography. He learned how to use Photoshop and Lightroom through watching YouTube videos and shot photos every chance he could get, with dedication, regardless of the weather or the state he would be in.

“At first I did not know what style to go for. I took photos of flowers, portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, but it was street photography that won me over,” he says.

“My love of street photography comes from the curiosity about people going about their everyday life and my passion to tell their stories through pictures. It’s more intimate and real. Candid. The best part is the excitement of finding that deciding moment, that magic click that makes it all fall into place.”

Melbourne is his home and one of the easiest cities for street photography, as people are open and hardly ever does he have to explain himself or delete photos.

“My photos are a combination of portraits and cityscapes. Loneliness is evident in my work,” he tells Neos Kosmos.

“I’m lurking for the right moment. Sometimes my subjects realise they are in my photos and I have to explain, but what is essential for me is capturing real, pure shots that could tell a story. Ideally my subject doesn’t know they are being photographed.”

Yiasaris’ devotion in being prepared to get close to his subjects rewards him with some beautiful cinematic pictures with a strong sense of drama. Black and white is his signature style, yet having bought a Fuji camera recently that resembles the old classic chrome films of the past, he is rediscovering his love for colour, light, and cinematic compositions mastering the ultra wide lens.

“Ultra-wide angles are very difficult to master,” he empasises. “One of the hardest things with an ultra-wide lens when shooting on the street is to correctly place your subject into the frame, as wide-angle lenses have the ability to suck everything into your frame, and most of the times some unwanted elements slip in unnoticed that can totally destroy your composition and your photograph. The slightest miscalculation that could bring you a few centimetres closer or further away from your subject could have a huge impact on the final result.”

What is his secret?

“Apart from heaps of practice and training my eyes, I’d say not doing it commercially. To me it’s all about the art, the naked truth in reality. My goal is to make unknown, common people the ultimate stars in my story for that one split second; see into the souls or through their eyes and try to convey that.”