An Athens-based photographer, Konstantinos Sofikitis, is the winner of this year’s Sony World Photography Award for the Street Photography category out of 105,000 images submitted across 183 countries. We sit down with our very own resident photographer on a spring afternoon in the island of Kea, Greece, and chat about photography, travel and life.
How did the idea of entering the contest came about?
I rarely take part in contests because you could easily get disappointed, or even worse get carried away if the result is positive. In this particular contest the level is exceptionally high and, if I’m not mistaken, receives the highest number of submissions globally. This was quite a good reason to pursue this contest by creating a section and presenting it. I believe the most important thing about a contest is to get into the mindset of identifying a story and then creating a competitive photo section out of it.
Did you finally meet the Joker guy from the winning photo?
Our “encounter” lasted for about 4 seconds; he then disappeared just in the same way he had appeared. I have to admit it that I would really like him to see this photo somewhere and get in touch with me!
Digital vs analog filters. Isn’t it all the same? Do you use them?
Both! The analog filters help me the moment I’m capturing an image and give me the opportunity to create a certain atmosphere especially in low light photography. Something that digital filters would never be able to do. On the other hand, digital filters help me create consistency amongst different images of the same section.
Portait vs landscape. Majority of your photos are in landscape mode; How so?
I don’t think there’s a rule for choosing ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape’ mode on street photography. I personally choose ‘landscape’ cause this reflect what I see without really looking inside the lends. As a result this helps me capture moments of people’s everyday life, just in the same way I would if I were not using a camera.
Favorite destination in Greece is Icaria? How so?
Regardless of any destination’s natural beauty, and there are numerous such destinations in Greece, a critical role in loving a place is the people that live there. In Icaria, and especially during wintertime when I have more time to spend with the locals, I feel I’m in a parallel universe. I feel that time somehow freezes there, both metaphorically as well as in actual fact, not just because certain establishments operate out of hours or because of the slow pace… mostly because locals and travelers alike seem to find a magical way of escape from all their troubles and take life seriously easy!
Outside of Greece, I’m taken by Latin American countries. If I had to choose a favourite destination I would go for Peru for its very diverse landscape. When you go hiking around Peru, you come across jungles, desserts, tribes that reside in the Andes, one of the longest canyons of the world and mountain peaks of up to 5,000m! However, if I were to visit again a favourite destination that would have to be Cuba. It’s a unique place on earth where nothing that goes around you goes unnoticed. Each little corner or alley acts as a film set, every street party is an unforgettable experience and the connection with the locals is one of a kind. In this remote part of the Caribbean you forget what you know or take for granted and start exploring how a whole different world operates.
Travel check. People check. What about Food?
The aromas, the images and the tasting experiences of a trip are intertwined with food. The cuisine actually mirrors the culture of an entire nation. In the more developed countries, food becomes a gastronomical experience, whereas in emerging countries it is just a medium of survival. Whatever the case, food is undoubtedly a very important part of my travels. Personally I tend to pick places where locals eat; in this way I feel I can appreciate a lot more for both their food as well as for their overall culture.
One of my favorite trips are roadtrips. After an adventurous trek through the Andes and a week-long roadtrip around Andalucia, I waited quite a long time to go on the next roadtrip during which the following picture was shot.
The reason for selecting this image for ‘Travel’ is that this roadtrip was a very long one across 5 different states all the way from the Grand Canyon to Seattle. We stayed in several motels I had only seen in movies, met with interesting people and witnessed a very different reality. This picture is just one glimpse of that trip but reminds me to not trust travel guides as this was a relatively disappointing stop when I picked this place off a random website because of a review of the infamous Freddie Mercury burger. Instead of the burger we came across a very dated motel on the verge of collapse next to a fuel station that was selling expired engine oil cartons and some touristy Route 66 flags.
In most of my travels I rarely book something in advance, both in terms of accommodation as well as in terms of food. So undoubtedly this becomes an adventure! Some of the times postively, and others not at all!
The following picture was taken during one of those magical moments after a long trek on the island of Karpathos, Greece, where we found ourselves in this cave. After settling down for the night, we had to cater for our dinner. So we started a fire and with the help of some friends we set up an unforgettable music night, eating fish and Greek salad with only the basic ingredients that one can taste during the Greek summer.
This picture is form my last night in Cuba. I had the opportunity to be in Cuba right before the time when the embargo was lifted and before their legendary leader, Fidel Castro, passed away. That was when I created a photo section that I named “Promises”. The name was taken by what I was consistently observing in the streets of Cuba; a sense of expectation fueled by the power of globalization that was going to sweep all of the basic goods Cubans were refrained from enjoying during their everyday life.
The second time I visited Cuba, I walked a lot around the streets of Havana and had a sightly different reading of the power of globalization. I felt that no matter what was about to change, some basic elements of the Cuban culture would never change. And that’s dance and pride. With this picture I was able to capture both through the depicted figures.