Interview: Eleni Rimantonaki speaks to in[+]frame
Eleni Rimantonaki was born in 1961 in Chania and she lives in Athens today. Right after university she attended a two-year course in photography in ‘Focus’ academy of photography, Athens. Her interest in photography has been rekindled since 2007 after a long pause. She has taken part in several group exhibitions. For Eleni RImantonaki:
‘‘...photography isn’t just a pleasant pastime but it has also become a compelling need. It has a therapeutic effect on me and makes me feel alive...”
- Are there any differences in the way you photograph now compared to your beginnings?
I think that the way we look at things has changed. At first I wanted to make a “nice” picture. Now I am more interested in capturing something that does not necessarily has beauty in it, but something that might be part of our everyday life that often goes unnoticed because we have become accustomed to it.
- Have you considered if the process of photographing or preoccupation with photography had an effect on your personality?
I think that photography has changed some things in my behavior. Now I am more courageous when it comes to photographing people and at the same time I have become more social, as photography often brings me closer to the people I choose to shoot.
- Is photography a recording of a specific time or a recording of a reality as perceived by the photographer?
A photo always contains the subjectivity of the photographer. He chooses what to include in the frame and what to exclude. Thus, it is the photographer’s own reality that we see. Even though at first sight a picture seems to represent things as they happened, in fact the photographer has played a very big role, inserting his own look in the picture that he shows us.
-Is there a photographer who is an inspiration to you?
I have attended some photography courses and I have seen and admired the work of the great masters of photography. However, I have mainly been influenced by the work contemporary photographers, who motivate me with their photographs; seeing what they have accomplished urges me to try harder.
-Is there a photo of yours, that you're really proud of?
It is a photograph I took in Egypt and I believe that I was very lucky to witness this scene and more importantly to capture it the way that I wanted. In fact it is a photo that raises many questions as to what it shows. People usually ask me where this hand comes from. The truth is that I don’t have a clear explanation for what we can see. I can only guess. We had just stopped in a small village in Egypt to stretch our legs from the long journey and the first thing I saw after I got off the bus was this man talking with someone behind this dark hole. My first reaction was to take a couple of shots. I couldn’t understand what they were saying; I could only read the body language. The man in the foreground was probably asking for something and the hand inside the hole responded negatively. On the floor, (it is not shown in the photo) there were crates with Egyptian bread which is made in stone built ovens. So my guess is that the dark hole is an opening of such an oven and this is a conversation between a client and the baker. I love this photo because I think that I managed to capture the decisive moment and hold the viewer’s attention with the mystery of the hand inside the hole in relation to the man’s pose in the foreground.