Andreas Poupoutsis is a fine art photographer based in New York City but originally from another small island on the other side of the world. His work is a little mysterious and even somewhat odd. His figures and faces often emerge from shadows, allowing for the objects to be (sometimes literally) painted with light. The work often speaks to a search for personal identity - something all artists struggle with; the faces in his images are often not integral to the image itself. We often think of a portrait in terms of the person inside the frame, but Andreas' portraits - even when they are of someone else - seem to be more reflective of the man behind the camera.
Can you tell us about yourself and your photographic background?
I was born in Cyprus, and I am 28 years old. Until the age of 20, I lived in Cyprus, and after high school, I served in the army for 24 months (which is mandatory in my country for all men).
Growing up, I was surrounded by art due to my grandfather and uncle who are well known painters and sculptors.
When I finished the army, I left for the UK to attend college. In college, I studies Business Management for 2 years at Kingston University.
After I realized that business was not the right path for me, I decided to follow my instinct and study something that would fulfill me.
I moved to Florence where I got a BA in Graphic Design and Visual Communication at Accademia Italiana.
During my graphic design studies, I chose photography as one of my classes, and that was the moment when I first realized my love for photography.
After I graduated, I decided to move to New York and study photography. I studied one year in New York and then moved to Los Angeles to get my Masters in Fine Art in Photography.
What got you started in photography?
When I was studying graphic design, I took photography classes and I became obsessed with the camera.
My girlfriend, Alexandra, who I met in Florence, was really into photography, which helped me realize that I was in love with the same art form, and that I wanted to be a photographer for the rest of my life.
I would always enjoy creating and realized that photography allowed me to create what I had in my head to communicate with people.
What kind of gear would we find in your bag?
Do you prefer strobes or natural light?
I love studio work, and I love to work with strobes. I like the control that I have when I am in the studio.
There are endless possibilities with what you can do with strobes. I am a big fan of shooting in-studio. But sometimes natural light can be flattering too, and I tend to use it in certain projects.
Where do you find the majority of your inspiration (both inside and outside of photography)?
Internet, magazine and museums is where I get a lot of my inspiration. I love researching for new and modern ideas.
The Internet is the biggest library in the world with endless websites and artist that you can search for.
My photography is influenced by cubism, shapes, shadows and textures.
What is your mental checklist before a shoot?
Before every shoot I have to make sketches of my shots.
Drawing helps me pre-visualize the shoot and think about the light, elements and props that I want to use
What is your thought process for location scouting? When shooting studio, how do you approach it differently?
Location is very important and has to match the theme of the shoot.
I really like abandoned places or very clean and empty interiors/backgrounds.
Studio is very different as everything is about the light and shadows. Everything has to be perfect in order to match my ideas, and as mentioned before, the power over the light that you have in studio is what attracts me the most!
What is your favorite thing to shoot?
My favorite theme to shoot is abstract portraits
In my photography, I like to explore graphic shapes/elements as well as odd and mysterious portraiture.
Identity is a recurring theme in my work. I use the face as the canvas, creating beautiful and abstract images intrigues me.
I don't like the normal, I always want to change the conventional and challenge the viewer to stop and question my pictures.
Can you take us though your workflow from shoot to post (roughly)?
I have my props and elements that are going to be used in the photoshoot ready, decide and test lighting, shoot and then lastly, there’s post production.
What do you do differently on a shoot when it's for yourself versus for a job?
When the shoot is personal, I have much more control and freedom to do exactly what I want. There is no rush, and it's all about the photographer and the subject. When it's for a job, the shoot has to be under the guides and pressure of the company that you are working for.
There are deadlines and people know exactly what they want and you have to compromise to give them what they want, but I always add my personal twist and taste.
What do you do on your down time?
I try to do as many projects as I possibly can, and during my free time I'm researching to find new ideas and inspirations.
What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far?
My most memorable moment so far is my entry and exhibition for the American Photography Book 28. It was an honor to be in the same book with such amazing photographers like James Nachtwey, Sebastiao Salgado and many more.
What is your favorite part of the whole process?
My favorite part of the process is that I am fascinated by people's faces and especially by the transformation and metamorphosis they go through in my photographs.
I love the freedom of language that the medium of photography gives me and allows me to create. The language is universal.
More of Andreas’ work can be found at www.poupoutsisandreas.com