Maria Tsormpatzoglou is an experimental art photographer and an independent collaborator. Maria has been included in online publications of the ArtDoc Magazine and the publication of the book Photography in the Visual Culture by Serradifalco Editore. Her photography was used by the Warhol Foundation, while she was exhibiting with CEPA Gallery in NYC. Exhibiting in group exhibitions internationally, her work has been shown in several European cities and in Miami and NYC in the US. Currently, Maria is working on the creation of her first photo book, a trilogy that explores intimacy with lovers, oneself, and death. To view some of her projects visit http://www.mariatsormpatzoglou.org
What inspired you to pursue a career as a photographer?
Being a photographer is such a multifaceted job and so several aspects of myself are kept satisﬁed with it. The most important of them however is storytelling itself. I can express emotions, thoughts, and melodies through my imagery and this is the most significant aspect of it to me, which ends up being inspiring and rewarding every single time.
How do you come up with the ideas and concepts for your photographs?
Everything comes from within. As mentioned before, thoughts, dreams, and melodies evoke emotions or create images in my head. Those emotions are subsequently presented as a concept in the photography I do. This is when it comes to abstract photography. When it comes to people, I am interested in capturing either their least-shown traits or highlighting the strongest sides of themselves. I am aiming for depth and authenticity, so it’s always one of the two options: secret features or predominant ones. So in any case the ideas and concepts steam from a very personal place, which I believe characterizes my whole work.
Can you walk us through your creative process from conception to ﬁnished product?
I am going to make a differentiation here again between abstract art and people photography. The ﬁrst is very intuitive. I rarely build in my head something from the beginning to the end and then go out and plainly execute a well-thought plan. There is a framework that guides me, naturally, but I let it be ﬂuid, because, as I said, that sort of
work is very personal and hence ever changing. The second one, however, people, is well calculated. I sit down with all stakeholders and discuss what they want to get out of the shooting along with what the purpose of it is. Then I try to decide whether natural light or a studio would be the best option for what we want to achieve and how the whole setting should look like. In fact, I think a lot about that. I don’t always have a mood board, mostly I don’t. I guide models and people into gradually becoming the character, we need for the purposes of each speciﬁc shooting. I have all the rest set up for them and they trust me.
How do you select the subjects or objects that you photograph?
For art photography, the objects become the subjects, are personal, and the selection is intuitive. So not much thought goes into that. It’s more of a ﬂow. What catches my attention at that particular point in time or what I use or what colors I am attracted to. However, as we said, with people it is a different story. Artists usually want something speciﬁc from me, so we develop concepts and choose objects together. Fashion is business-oriented, so we do castings for models, we ﬁnd makeup and hair artists, and align with the client.
Are there any particular surrealist techniques that you use in your photography?
I play a lot with the exposure and the camera’s movement along with the usage of different sorts of lenses. Sometimes, I even use two lenses on top of one another to achieve the surrealistic effect I am aiming for. Postproduction is valuable in this case too. However, more often than not, I use it as a tool to enhance what there already is and not to substantially change the picture initially taken.
Can you tell us about a particular photograph that you are especially proud of and the story behind it?
Sure! The latest picture I am especially proud of is Lucid Rain. I absolutely adore this image. Every time I see it, it arouses the exact same feeling in me as the one I had in the period I took it, in the early autumn of 2021 in Greece. I was feeling very content with myself, my choices, and the person I had become, so I was experiencing everything from a standpoint of absolute bliss. So, I went out at night to take pictures and I sort of deposited myself in the night’s ﬂow to indicate what the next step is. I ended up driving up to the mountain and gazing at the stars. The wind was incredibly strong so I had to put effort to stay still and keep my tripod steady, which somehow felt very stiff and resulted in “intransigent” imagery. I was about to give up and go back to the place I was temporarily staying at, but then I just let myself feel the way the wind was dancing with me. I was so obsessed with staying still to make THE image, where I didn’t genuinely observe and feel the magniﬁcence of the setting my surroundings were creating for me. So, I let both my body and my camera play along with the wind and let the tripod slide toward where the wind blew. Lucid Rain is the very ﬁrst shot I made after that realization. Has been so good.
How do you choose the locations or backgrounds for your photographs?
I have to repeat myself here. It is intuitive. I invite myself to understand what it craves to experience each time. Is it the beach or the city lights? What colors are more appealing to me at that point in time? Is it broad daylight or artiﬁcial light beams? I either have seen those places before and go there or go out and seek them. Sometimes it works and the result is what I wanted, whereas sometimes it doesn’t, but, well, it always is like that.
What do you hope viewers take away from your artwork?
I truly hope that some viewers would be able to search the depths of their souls to ﬁnd what their reality is and celebrate that. Essentially come closer to themselves and have the ability to boldly stand in their reality and potentially against the imprinted normality, so that they will start living a more authentic-to-themselves life and consequently a more content one.
How do you stay inspired and motivated to continue creating surreal photography?
The wonders of life, the living itself, and its ever-changing condition, along with the imagery deriving from my dreams are the primary sources of my inspiration. What keeps me motivated though is something else. First of all, the urge and desire to meet my future self through the work I produce, and, secondly, I would like to show another, more personal, reality to the viewers, which can be equally real to the one we are all sharing, inviting them to explore their personal reality(-ies).
What are your future plans or upcoming exhibitions/projects?
I am working on my ﬁrst photobook for quite some time now. It is going to be a trilogy that explores intimacy; intimacy with lovers, with ourselves, and, ultimately, death. It is a combination of text and imagery and is produced primarily in an experimental and abstract way. Colors are going to play a signiﬁcant role here, as each of the three types of intimacy is going to be represented by speciﬁc colors and themes. I am not expecting to ﬁnish it soon though. It is way more demanding than I initially thought to translate the collected thoughts into images. However, I am very excited about this project and cannot wait
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