Make room for Biscuits and Muffins! This isn’t some new pop group on the music scene or new restaurant that popped up in a trendy cosmopolitan enclave. It’s the latest book project photographer Antonis Achilleos is busy working on. In today’s ever-changing editorial and commercial landscape, there are few that can survive the ups and downs of an industry that is wrought with dwindling budgets and musical-chair appointed creatives at the helm – tasked with executing photography campaigns. I was fortunate enough to land an interview with the always consummate, talented professional to give his thoughts on the business of photography.
DSMC: Did you always have your mind set on becoming a photographer?
AA: I have many relatives that are photographers in my family. My father and uncles had cameras around the house. My father lent me his equipment and I’d bicycle around town in Cyprus and take pictures. I think it was inevitable for me to become interested in photography. You could say: It was in the genes! I wasn’t sure it was going to be a career or just a hobby until I came to U.S. for a Media Arts program in photography. Turns out, I found my passion and I’m still working in the field.
DSMC: What inspired you to become a photographer?
AA: The magic of the darkroom. I remember being part of the photo club in high school and I got a whiff of the developer (developing photos) and saw the images forming in the dark. I was hooked.
DSMC: Did you study photography in the states or abroad?
AA: For me, the states are abroad. I left Cyprus when I was 21 and came to the U.S. I considered the photography programs in England and Germany, but the ones in America seemed more attractive to me. I chose the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It’s a small school affiliated with the art institute in the city. The program split the curriculum into photo and film. It was a great experience for a freshman from Cyprus. After 2 years, I transferred to Rochester NY at RIT, which has a renowned program in professional photography.
DSMC: How would you classify your type of photography?
AA: I consider myself a still life photographer who occasionally shoots different genres.
DSMC: What genre of photography do you enjoy most?
AA: All types. I follow all different types of photography to see what’s new and engaging.
DSMC: Is there a particular genre you identify with?
AA: I have been photographing food a lot more. I enjoy the collaboration it brings with a bigger team of people. I love making food look pretty and delicious.
DSMC: Have you noticed emerging trends in editorial and commercial photography within the last 4 – 5 years? If so, what are they?
AA: Yes, I have. Photographers are experimenting more with focus on a subject; they alternate between soft and sharp focus on objects. Warm tones from the 90s and cool tones from the 2000s are making a comeback. Donna Hays magazine used completely blue tones a few years ago and I loved it! I use 1/4 blue on with my daylight to turn the shadows blue. There is great work being done now. The development of digital and new technologies has liberated the industry. If you have a vision you can become a great photographer and it’s evident with the emerging new blogs out there. Check out: http://www.ourfoodstories.com/search/label/drinks
DSMC: How do you stay relevant and continually land photography jobs in this changing industry?
AA: Staying relevant in any field is super important. I try to look at the work created around me and simultaneously stay true – and produce – the work that’s important to me. I’m not going to jump on every new trend bandwagon, because it’s popular, if it doesn’t make sense for me to grow as an artist.
DSMC: Is working with an agent more or less advantageous to your business?
AA: Yes, having an agent is important for me. I have been with Big Leo and Mary Dail for two years now. And, I love being part of that family. I like having someone on my side to share the marketing/business side of the job, which is the most difficult part. Taking the photos is easy. Continually promoting yourself and landing new clients is not.
DSMC: What tips and/or advice would you give aspiring photographers?
Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Be open and willing to do anything and everything in this business. Assist photographers and absorb how they work, learn the trade and stay current. Be a nice person, nobody wants to work with a jerk: at least not at the beginning.
From shooting cookbooks with top chefs to beautiful editorial stories and advertising campaigns – that take him all over the country. Antonis has made his mark in the photography industry. The sought-after artist is always eager to learn new tricks of the trade and expand his portfolio. You can find his inspiring and extensive range of work at: http://antonisachilleos.com