Young and Renegade is the name of the new photo book of Berlin based analog photographer Zeno Spyropoulos (now available in our online shop). We chat with him about his new project and photo style, here is what we learn.
“So I started my university studies in liberal art with a specialty in photography in 2016 I believe at Sant Lucas school of arts in Ghent, Belgium where I was also born. At the time, art was not something that came naturally to me or something that I brought with me from my family or past, I had the drive to create and was trying to do something with it but hadn’t really found my own way or blueprint.”
How this project started?
In 2018′ summer I visited a friend of mine who lived in Berlin, that’s when I came up with with the idea of my young and renegade project. It just popped in my head and I decided to move here and make it a reality. Since then, I have shot so many photos for this project, photos that came in and out the final book selection some are so good that I will definitely bundle in the future in a simpler zine format as additional content.
What’s your photography process like in terms of technique, cameras and approach to subjects?
I photograph most of my work with a point and shoot analogue camera, my photos are usually push by the moment, an action or it’s environment, it’s only a matter of seconds before the moment is over so I can be fast with a small camera. I’ve learned to be fast with my Yashica T4 I don’t even use the viewfinder anymore I shoot based on intuition, emotion and moment. In the quickness of it comes most of my best pictures, pictures that would’ve turned out different if the subject knew I was ready to shoot.
The analogue part is something I’ve just always done, in University the initial costs of getting a good analog camera are much lower than with a digital and it stuck with me since. Now I love the process, the accidents, the lack of control.
“It was a logical step for me”
I decided to move here not very long since the concept of my book “Young and Renegade” popped in my head. It was just something I had to do that moment in time, and very happy I did so. I’m not a stranger to impulsive decisions and I have lived abroad in the past before so it was not that hard to make that choice. Just like many of the subjects in Y&R I did not leave much behind and was also in a personal journey looking for something else so I took a suitcase with me for a week or so with me and only later I went back to pick up the rest of my stuff.
Tell us more about your new book, what’s the main concept behind?
Me as many young people who move here have something in common: we are renegades, we left everything behind without caring too much. At home we came to a standstill point in our live, we doubted about school or career choices, or where looking for a freer way of thinking, that connects us, no matter where we are from. We understand each other faster, and that makes it easier to make connections. Back home I was already working on a documenting intuitive style of photography, it was after shooting my first few analogue rolls in Berlin that I saw this connection and intensity through the pictures.
Sexuality is a big theme among photographers but your approach feels more intimate and at the same time so relaxed and something normal. How do you get all these people to pose in such a free way for you?
“I’m not trying to show the beauty in things we already see beautiful. I’m not trying to rub your nose in beliefs or images of sex.”
I think that’s just it, the fact that it’s relaxed and normal. The fast and intuitive way of photographing allows me to capture moments. Real moments that happen to real people. Beauty in its raw form.
The majority of the photos I take are not posed and if they are it’s a one or two take process. I trust my eye and gut feeling when I see something without a camera, I just see the moment and go for it. My process is too fast to start worrying about the smaller details or to be a perfectionist. However there’s an element of trust most of the people I photograph are people who I’ve met or people that I know, for the sort of pictures I create I can’t invite someone over that I hardly know and do a classic ‘photographer – subject’ dynamic so I rather work just with a friend who it’s okay with me taking photos of things that happens around.
How has the general reception and interest of the public been since you printed the book?
I must admit that bringing the book out, especially the days prior to the release date, was really frightening. I’ve had a good reception on my project, I exhibited a collection of my photos in Brussels before, but this is definitely a public platform for anyone and not just for those who already know me. It was definitely a scary concept and I did over think over what people will think about it, who will see it and what they will think of me.
I questioned the narrative and authenticity of it a lot, I also wondered if it had a place in today’s saturated market of photo-books and what mine did differently. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect or how many would be sold so I was already mentally prepared for the possibility of not selling a lot, so every purchase and book I sent out to different corners of Europe or even beyond that feels like a huge blessing.
I’m honestly so happy to have this project under my belt, to have a body of work in my oeuvre, and to see that with help of my graphic designer Lea, who was such a big supporter and help for me from early, the narrative translates from concept to something people actually enjoys.
“I am beyond thankful for every purchase and especially to see pictures of those who share pictures of my book on their coffee table.”
You can buy the book in our online shop