Sep 27, 2015

The Dramatic iPhoneography of Vassilis Rogakos

© Vassilis Rogakos
What is your name and where do you live?

VR:  My name is Vassilis Rogakos. I was born and live in Athens, Greece.

How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?

VR:  I resisted getting a cell phone for a very long time, but I was introduced to Instagram through my good friend (@blackbirdtales) and he set up an account for me about one year ago. Then I bought my first iPhone 5S in August 2014 and I am still using it. Its simplicity was a relief. I was amazed how easy taking and editing my photos on my iPhone turned out to be. That’s how I got hooked on mobile photography.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Midnight in China Town

© Vassilis Rogakos
Do you have a traditional photography or art background?

VR:  No, none at all. I had music lessons for six years in my childhood, but I studied chemistry and I am a chemist by profession. So photography and generally all forms of artistic expression is a way to activate the other parts of my brain more than I do in my daily work. Photography and mobile editing is mostly self-taught, although I do have a lot of help from my friends who are very talented and wonderful artists and photographers.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Mr. Gasoline

© Vassilis Rogakos
Who or what inspires you?

VR:  Mainly the people and secondly cities and landscapes. I like to watch people on the streets and try to imagine their emotions and feelings. There are many stories we could see if we just opened our eyes.

When I feel I start to lose inspiration I open photography books and consume imagery from world-class photographers such as Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus, Duane Michals, Andre Kertesz. There are so many great artists that it would be hard to list them all. I love to spend a day in an art museum or in galleries and exploring all it has to offer.

In addition, there are dozens of contemporary mobile photographers that I am constantly inspired by and I am hesitant to start a list, but I would like to mention at least Tony Nahra (@tonyinseattle) for his imaginary landscapes, Valeria Cammareri (@_soulkitchen_) for her artistic vision of everyday life and of course Richard Koci Hernandez (@koci) for his urban melancholy.

© Vassilis Rogakos
The Suitcase

© Vassilis Rogakos
Deep Listening

With the exception of one color photo that I found while looking through your Instagram gallery, all of your images are in black and white. Why black and white?

VR:  It’s very difficult for me to handle color in photography, so black and white was the only choice. My first photographs were so dark with high contrast, so that it was an easy step. Of course my cultural background (film noir, B&W masters of photography) also played a role.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Time Stood Still

© Vassilis Rogakos
Family Affair

Do you shoot in black and white with a camera app or do you make the conversion afterwards in the editing process?

VR:  I have experimented with some B&W apps (Hipstamatic, Hueless, Provoke), but I prefer to shoot in color and convert to B&W as part of the editing process. I believe that this method gives me a lot of flexibility over tonal values when converting to B&W.

© Vassilis Rogakos
When I Grow Up...

© Vassilis Rogakos
Shadows at Sunnyside

A lot of your images contain a solitary figure. Are these composite images where you add the figure afterwards?

VR:  It depends on how lucky I am to capture the right moment. Sometimes it just happens in front of my eyes, but often it takes time to find the right location and wait for someone to appear in the scenery. 

In about 30% of my images I add the figures afterwards. Usually I photograph interesting silhouettes late in the afternoon or early in the morning. The protagonist is always a human being.

© Vassilis Rogakos
I've Seen it Before

© Vassilis Rogakos
Monkey on His back

I would characterize your images as dramatic and moody. Any tips for composing an image for a dramatic effect?

VR:  This is a great compliment for me. I am not even sure what to call my style but I believe absence of color, clean backgrounds, great light and the solitude of the figures create this dramatic atmosphere.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Street Scenery

© Vassilis Rogakos
Endless Summer

Describe a typical workflow for your editing process including your favorite apps.

VR:  I always shoot with ProCamera or Camera+. For post-processing (using an iPad) I start with Snapseed for the basics and from then on it depends on the image. I love using Mextures and Stackables for texture and tones. For sophisticated editing I use Filterstorm Neue or Enlight and for top quality film filters I use VSCO Cam.

Have you ever sold or exhibited your work? If not, any plans for the future?

VR:  No I haven’t yet, but there is discussion with a local bar-gallery which wants to do a show with my work. Let’s see what happens.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Lost at Richard Serra Sculptures
© Vassilis Rogakos

What is the best advice you ever received regarding either mobile photography or photography in general?

VR:  Go out and start visiting locations and shoot!! Capture anything that moves you and tells a story...

© Vassilis Rogakos
Smell of Fear

© Vassilis Rogakos
Real Life

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

VR:  As a big fan of Art of Mob, Geri, this has been an incredible honor. Thank you so much for this interview. Your site is always an inspiration. I am grateful.

© Vassilis Rogakos
Strange Times

Find Vassilis: Instagram 

Apps Mentioned:
Provoke Camera
ProCamera 8 + HDR
Filterstorm Neue

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