Born in northern Greece, right on the border of Albania and Yugoslavia, I spent my childhood immersed in nature. I grew up in the Prespa Lakes region, which is an area where nature reigned supreme with 4 distinct seasons; hot summers, snow-covered winters, fragrant blossoms in spring and golden autumn light.
I remember standing on our balcony in the summer evenings, mesmerised by the beautiful sunset over the lakes, followed by a pristine star-filled sky. I remember hearing howling wolves at night and seeing beautiful little robins on the winter snow. I remember finding hedgehogs crossing our paths under cherry-laden trees. This was where my innate appreciation for nature started.
The region also offered up an abundance of birds, both migratory and permanent, which shaped many of my childhood experiences – and eventually, my photography too.
As with portrait photography, the focus on the eyes is what allows the viewer to powerfully engage with the subject matter. This holds for wildlife photography too.
Once I frame a bird, I like to shoot with a shallow depth of field that focuses on the eyes and makes the bird the hero. Keeping eye contact while staying quiet and patient also helps build a sense of comfort with the bird, so that the bird will eventually come to me as they are very inquisitive – and territorial!
To me, photographing birds is akin to a creative retreat where all you have is the natural environment around you as inspiration.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been part of Artback Australia, a group of photographers, illustrators and other artists who gather out in a rural setting, somewhere in Australia to make art and reinvigorate our craft. Previous trips have been up the Murray, to an old scout camp in the Grampians and to a shearers hut in regional NSW. The accommodation is basic – but the company is anything but! It’s always a significant exercise of returning to what’s essential to us as individuals and as creators.