The story behind the compelling portrait that won the Grand Prize of Spotlight Awards: interview with Antonis Engrafou
Production Paradise: Congratulations once again with your victory! How do you feel about winning the grand prize?
Antonis Engrafou: Thanks a lot! It’s a great honor to win such a prestige award. Congratulations to Production Paradise for all the work behind this great competition! I feel grateful and honored.
Production Paradise: How did you hear about the competition?
Antonis Engrafou: When I received an email that Production Paradise was having a photo competition, I knew it will be very challenging and as soon as I read about the judging panel who are some of the best names in the image industry I felt excited and nervous at the same time, because such distinguished and well-known people were going to see and judge my work; so having won the competition means a lot to me and my career.
Production Paradise: What’s the story behind the picture?
Antonis Engrafou: For the last few years I am photographing random people from different backgrounds and lifestyles. The priest in the picture has been living in a specific monastery which I have been visiting with my family since I was as a little kid. The day I took the photo, I have planned with my wife to visit the monastery and the priest, and I took my equipment with me as I have always wanted to take a picture of him. When we got there, we sat down with him, got his blessing and heard his life story. When I took the photo, it was such a pure moment because the priest is almost blind but all his positive energy and emotions were shown in one picture.
Production Paradise: What is it about your job that makes you happy?
Antonis Engrafou: What I love the most in my job is the connection with the people I am photographing. Making a connection before taking a portrait is as much important than the end result. The way I work might be a little bit different, since I invest quite some time listening carefully and having a conversation with the people involved, and less time to shoot. As a result, I believe the portrait is filled with emotions and true expressions.
Production Paradise: What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
Antonis Engrafou: As an artist, I believe that my biggest achievement is when people recognise me from my work. I believe each artist’s biggest accomplishment is to create a personal style, and it requires a lot of time and inspiration to achieve it. Also, winning this competition has been a personal and professional achievement.
Production Paradise: How did you start doing what you do, what inspired you?
Antonis Engrafou: I am coming from a family of photographers. I am a third-generation photographer, following the footsteps of my father and grandfather. As I was born in a small island, Cyprus, I grew up reading books and hearing many stories about the wars and struggles that took place in my country. I turned to photography as a means of creativity to show stories and emotions. My aesthetic of work is influenced by the old masters of art, and this is the approach to my entire body of work.
Production Paradise: Having worked with many big industry names, is there anyone you would like to work with, but have not had the chance to?
Antonis Engrafou: Sure, there are a lot of big industry names that I would love to work with, but I won’t give names! I would like to work with companies that, through my storytelling approach, want to capture emotions, personalities, and stories through the subjects.
We would like to thank Antonis for the interview and his participation in the Spotlight awards. Check out our blog page to read the interviews with the winners of other categories.