Last year at the Santa Fe Portfolio Review I befriended a cool guy named Dimitri Mellos. He and I spent quite a bit of time together looking at each other's work and just talking about photography and life. We even traded a couple pictures. Dimitri was actually the one who encouraged me to show my Estate Sale pictures to Jim Estrin of the NYT, and that's how I got that work shown on Lensblog. At any rate, Dimitri's wonderful street photography is currently being featured in a virtual group show at the Forward Thinking Museum. I'd like to share a few of his pieces, as well as some of the other work that caught my eye; I'd also like to share what Dimitri wrote about street photography. There has been so much conversation about it lately (on various blogs, in the media, etc.) and I think he speaks to the issue with sincerity, frankness and intelligence. The cool thing is: Dimitri is involved in the field of psychology. The combination of his passion for that and his passion for photography adds up to something very striking indeed.
"Self-questioning and doubts about the ethics of street photography were for the longest time holding me back and inhibiting me from photographing. I gradually, and thankfully, came to the realization that these concerns were exaggerated. Street photography is indeed a momentary intrusion into the lives of strangers, but it happens in public spaces, where, especially nowadays, all of us are constantly exposed to the gaze of others and to having our image recorded in multiple ways. Moreover, compared to the range of aggressive behaviors humans are capable of, street photography is pretty low on the scale. And, much more importantly, if done right, street photography stems from a respectful interest in, and fascination with, the lives of others, a wish to memorialize and affirm those lives, and not from petty voyeuristic or exploitative motives.
If there is one overarching moral principle informing my work, it is respect for reality and serendipity, for the external world as encountered. This includes being as unobtrusive as possible when photographing, and not manipulating situations. My aspiration is making interesting photographs out of nothing – not out of inherently interesting situations or eccentric or funny-looking people, but out of the supposedly mundane fabric of everyday life."
Born in Athens, Greece and currently based in New York City, Dimitri started photographing seriously and consistently about five years ago, after moving to New York to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. His work has been exhibited in Greece, Barcelona, Berlin, New York and Santa Fe and is in private collections in Europe and the United States. He was featured in the NY Times lens blog and has received several awards for his work, including being a finalist for the Fotovisura Grant as well as the Magnum Expression Award.