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Vassilis Pitoulis

PHOTOGRAPHY Vassilis Pitoulis MODEL Valeria Vasilenko CAMERA Leica S (Typ 007) with Elmarit-S 45 f/2.8 ASPH. (CS) and Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH. (CS)

‘Dreamscapes’ is erotic photography ‘à la Vassilis Pitoulis’. Together with his muse, Valeria Vasilenko, he celebrates classic black and white. A homage to femininity, spiced up with a certain touch of irony.

Your photography is erotically loaded. How would you describe your work and what you are trying to convey with it?
As far as nudity is concerned, society has experienced different phases throughout history and art. While conveying freedom of expression and beauty, nudity has also been and still is restricted in some societies today. I believe that somehow today, the sense of elegance and fashion in relation to nudity has dissipated in some respects. There is segregation. Whether people label it pornography, erotica or art, what used to be accepted by society as a depiction of nudity can easily become misinterpreted or labelled. The depiction of nudity was represented by historians, sculptors, artists, etc., as showing the beauty and purity of a body. Nudity has been a source of inspiration for centuries and it’s been photographed since the very early days of photography. Everyone has his or her own opinion when looking at a photograph. Reactions are deeply rooted in the viewers own subjective experiences. I believe that women, in every shape and form, are powerful and beautiful creatures. For sure, in my opinion and that of many, their mere existence gives them an air of eroticism. I don’t try to convey anything consequential with my photos. I come up with ideas, I share them and I like to let my models express themselves as freely as possible during a photo shoot, while capturing them at the cusp of it all.

Do the women in front of the camera do what you want, or do you photograph what they want?
As I mentioned earlier, I like to let them be creative. I create a scenario in my mind - a script. I then spend a large part of the session describing this to them and then let them act or express themselves in their own way. I spend more time explaining these scenarios than actually shooting. Sometimes I only take 5 or 10 photos in a session and that’s enough.

The woman in your photographs is beautiful, elegant, but also at times presented in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek manner. How do you yourself see women
For me elegance is key in a woman. There is a fine line between elegance and its antonym. This line is drawn differently in everyone’s mind. In my mind I play around with surrealism when I come up with scenarios. I may photograph a woman in every-day life situations with underlying metaphorical assumptions. At times these may be ironic, but I never mean for them to be disrespectful towards women or anyone for that matter. On the contrary, I believe women are the world’s driving force; without them we wouldn’t get anything done.

What can you say about Valeria Vasilenko? She is not just a model and a ballet dancer – is she something of a muse to you?
Many of the models I choose to work with are like muses to me, and I look forward to working with some of them again in the near future. Valeria is one of the models with whom I share a great connection and communication while on the job. It’s fascinating when a model listens to my ideas and can deliver exactly what I’ve thought of, while also expressing herself creatively in a genuine way. Models who inspire my next project, because of the way they portray my ideas, become very interesting to work with.

How did the pictures for Dreamscapes comes about? Did you look for a new location each day and then stage the photos spontaneously on location?
Yes. I enjoy spontaneity. I often go out for lunch planning to eat at a fish restaurant, and end up eating lamb chops. The same applies for my photography.

What role do the backgrounds play in Dreamscapes? What is the story about?
I was playing with time and layers. Experimenting with capturing a moment in the studio while projecting backgrounds of other ventures.

You photograph primarily in black and white. Why?
For me, black and white allows for a more focused concentration of the theme of the photographs, without distracting the viewer. I see life in black and white. I translate that into my photography, while focusing on the shadows of expressions, which for me are all black and white. It’s elegant. It’s how I visualize my scenarios.

How did you get into photography? What was the trigger?
Photography was my passion for many years. Back in the day, however, life and its obligations did not allow me to fully devote myself to it. After a life-threatening health issue I decided to give up my job and devote myself fully to the art of fashion/nude photography. It has now taken over and I’ve never been happier.

How did you find the S camera and S system for this series? Do you usually also work in medium format?
Working with the S camera was a beautiful experience. Leica gave me the amazing opportunity to further develop my ideas while working with such high-end equipment. I believe the Leica S is a top quality camera with uncomplicated features. As soon as I received it, I immediately started shooting with it. It was so user-friendly, I felt as though I’d been using it for years.
I use all formats but lately I shoot mostly in medium.