Camera:Canon EOS 7D.
Food:All kinds of pasta…
Hotel:Costa Navarino-Messinia Greece.
Book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
Vassilis Tangoulis leads a double carrier as an academic teacher-Assistant Professor and a fine art photographer. He is a physicist working in the Chemistry department in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and despite his full time career has also found success following his lifetime passion of photography. Vassilis Tangoulis has been a recipient of international award for his Black and White long exposure work.
Vassilis Tangoulis was born in a small Greek town – Karpenisi surrounded by mountains and was really lucky to be a “village” boy. He had the opportunity to see sceneries that influenced his viewpoint and perspective and maybe unconsciously defined the absolute meanings of words like “sunset”, “snow”, and many others; all important ingredients of a landscape photographer. He left Karpenisi at the age of 11 and spent some 20 years in different towns and for the last 10 years Vassilis Tangoulis he has lived in Patras, a beautiful town near the sea.
Neutral density filters came into his life and a new surrealistic world has been revealed…From that moment he gives all his creativity to elaborate and explore this new world.
-How did you first become interested in photography? Physicists have a term for this. When there is no physical meaning for the beginning of a physical phenomenon they define the time=zero as an anomaly point. A similar description can be given also for the first time I became interested in photography. One day I just felt I had to buy a DSLR camera and started to shoot. Well maybe everything was prepared subconsciously and my profession, my childhood, the need for a way to express my inner world played their roles as catalysts to this mind function.
-What is your standard camera setup on a shoot? Canon EOS 7D, Canon 17-40mm/USM, Big Stopper, ND grads 0.9 soft or hard, CPL filters. Working on a Bulb mode and usually my exposure times are 5-6 minutes.
-When did you begin to shoot long exposure photography and what was it that drew you to that style? After three months, I started to take photos, I knew I did not want to do street photography (maybe not too smart to catch the right moments, I felt uncomfortable to shoot people) and it took me two more months to see that I will be a devoted landscape photographer in the field of Fine Art photography. At the bottom line I wanted to be alone with nature. I tried to take realistic photos but never felt satisfied. At that moment neutral density filters came to my life and a new surrealistic world –the world I always see in my dreams- could be captured by my camera. This discovery changed everything in my life and from that moment I gave all my creativity to elaborate my surrealistic view.
-How long did it take you to master your style? I think the most important factor in defining my Fine Art photography is that I spent the last five years finding my personal viewpoint. In other words, finding your inner world with shapes, lines and shadows, with landscapes and lonely figures. After accomplishing this someone has to work on mastering his style to present his vision. Concerning the first factor I am glad that I found it almost from the beginning of my involvement with Fine Art photography..I work every day on mastering my style and although the main aspects of it are well defined in my mind I still think I have to learn a lot …
-What are your average exposure times and what is your post-production workflow like? My average exposure times are usually 4 minutes and my postproduction times are usually less than an hour...I use mainly Photoshop CS5 or CS6 for my post production of my photos. I work on tonal processing adding many layers that help me to treat certain regions of the photo differently and also pay special attention to contrast treatment. I found out that mastering these two workflows helps me to give the pseudo 3D perspective to my photos. Also I work a lot on gradients and the light treatment is always a key factor in my post processing workflow.
-What is your dream project? Actually I have many dream projects and the most realistic right now is to give a Long exposure Fine Art view of Greece. I want to photograph places (and Greece has many wonderful places to visit) that convey the mystery, history, myths of Greek civilisation. Also another dream project is to visit other countries like Iceland and Japan and give my personal view to such exotic landscapes. This is a very long-term goal and right now I only wish I can make it someday.
-Which other photographers have influenced your work the most? So I could say that Ansel Adams influenced me through the way I treat and compose my “black skies” in strong correlation to the white well-contrasted areas of clouds. Cole Thompson helped me a lot to “see” out of the box and realise that long exposure photography is not only for landscapes. I experiment a lot with abstract photography, people photography– discovering every day the unique power of long exposure. Last, but surely not the least, is Michael Levin with his unique post processing skills and his “minimal vision.” Through his work, I discovered the power of minimalism and from that I continue to pursue the power of negative space.
-In your opinion, what makes a truly great black and white photograph? The multiple variations of possible greys, if treated correctly, can reveal depth and drama and make a perfect black and white photograph.
-Is there a message or concept behind your photography? I always try to leave a message behind my photos. For me every photo has symbolic meanings and sometimes I leave the symbols to speak for themselves but there are times I have to give a guidance and this is usually the title I choose for a collection. I work with collections of photos (sets of 5 or more) and this because I always need a concept when I photograph. Taking a photo is always a serious matter for me and if there is no concept or no message I prefer to stay silent. After all Ansel Adams said it much better : “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
-What was the best career advice you were ever given? The good thing about being an amateur photographer is that no one gives you career advice. Nevertheless I plan to work a lot on my new site www.vassilistangoulis.com and right now I have published one photo-book with the title “Silent World”.
I also plan in the near future to organise a workshop in Greece about Long exposure Fine Art Photography and a personal exhibition.