All Photos ©Thanasis Kaiafas
We have a very special treat for you all today! Thanasis Kaiafas is here for a spotlight interview, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to this insanely talented Greek photographer. Whether he’s capturing the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea or a glamorous portrait of a stunning bride, his work is both timeless and creative. Enjoy!
How has the wedding industry in Greece been affected by the country’s economic situation?
Greece, just like many other countries, has been seriously affected by the economic crisis and this is true of all sectors of economy, including wedding vendors. However, marriage is an institution with deep roots in our culture and, in addition to that, due to the natural beauty of the Greek landscape and especially that of the Greek islands, Greece has become a very popular wedding destination for couples from all over the world. This is a real blessing for my country and with hard work, enthusiasm and professional expertise we usually have amazing results.
What do you love most about the clients you have worked with?
Most of my clients are couples who live abroad – mainly in the States – and have long been dreaming of getting married in Greece, a country of legends, myths and magic. What I love most about them is their genuine excitement and determination; sometimes they plan their dream wedding for months or years! And their trust really moves and motivates me to do my very best to capture their best moments. I feel so fortunate and honoured to have been offered the chance to build bonds and lasting friendships with all the couples that I have worked with so far!
What’s next for you and your studio?
I really can’t tell…I try to leave everything in God’s hands. After all, I could never have imagined that my life would be as happy and fulfilling as it is today. It’s like living a dream in every aspect! I am truly blessed to have a beautiful, loving family – my wife and four amazing children – plus good friends and an exciting and emotionally rewarding job that gives me the chance to travel to new places and also to meet awesome, sweet, sensitive and kindhearted couples from all over the world…I couldn’t ask for more!
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t shooting weddings?
When I’m not shooting pictures at some destination wedding either in Greece or somewhere else in Europe, I spend creative time with my family. As a father of four beautiful children and the husband of an amazing wife, I feel grateful for their presence in my life and I know that their love is a constant source of inspiration for me. For there is nothing more precious than family in life.
An atmosphere of love, understanding and peace at home is extremely important, as a large part of a photographer’s work starts after the end of the wedding ceremony, the celebrations and the parties. Despite the long hours of work, however, I always try to balance work and family obligations and to devote quality time to my family. I do my best to make our time together meaningful, creative and happy. This way we truly enjoy each other’s company and strengthen the love bonds that unite us.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Being close to couples on their wedding day is the most fulfilling aspect of my job. I often feel as excited as the couples themselves! I always look forward to sharing this whole experience not only with the bride and the groom but also with their many guests, who may have come from the four corners of the world to celebrate the love of two people and have fun in beach parties and pre-wedding evening gatherings… And then the big day comes bringing all the joy and emotion that such a glorious event always inspires.
To me, the most important dimension of this event is the spiritual one; it is a privilege and honour to be present at the sacred moment of the union of two people before God. The relationship with the couple, built through communication, from the very first contact (usually one year before the wedding and quite often even sooner than that) until the last click of the camera, after a two or three-day party, is really unique. I could talk about it for hours! Every time I remember such wonderful moments it’s like living them again and I am filled with the same joy and excitement.
Who and what gives you ideas and inspiration?
Honestly, I get inspired by anything around me that fills me with positive energy. What never ceases to amaze me is the passion and determination of any professional who works hard! I consider this very important. I am always inspired by people who put their heart and soul into what they do. And this applies not only to photographers, but to anyone who excels in their various lines of work –a musician, an artist or even a carpenter who gives life to a piece of wood.
But of course, my greatest source of inspiration has always been my family. They are the driving force behind all my actions and achievements. Through Anna and the kids, everything seems to make sense and become meaningful. And it’s impossible not to feel inspired by my wife, a superheroine that raises our four children.
What is your favourite moment or tradition at weddings?
My favourite moment is when I meet the couple for the first time, after all our Skype calls. This is when the story begins for me and I start gathering all the little pieces to create their legacy!
What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you emotional? Makes you laugh?
What makes me really emotional is witnessing the couples themselves getting emotional during the ceremony. Deep down I am a romantic at heart and I can’t help it; I always have to make an effort not to cry (because I have to capture the wedding, damn it!). Those moments behind the camera are really unique… It is so hard to explain it.
You know, the photographer is the person closest to the couple throughout the wedding. I am with the bride and the groom from the first to the last moment, trying to capture all the feelings, not to mention the fact that at destination weddings this interaction with the lovely couples lasts not just one day but two or three entire days. As you can imagine, such a close and genuine relationship is one of the main ingredients of a great photographic result. And I must admit that I am definitely addicted to this!
What makes me laugh is the time of the speeches. I sit back and enjoy the story of the couple as it unfolds through the touching or funny descriptions of the best man or a friend of the bride’s. I think this is one of the most beautiful moments of the wedding day!
How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients?
I really don’t know. But there is a moment after each wedding that is purely magical. When the wedding is over and I have to say goodbye to the couple that trusted me to keep their memories alive, after two or three days of shooting, the emotions are always very strong. It’s impossible for me to explain it in words, but at this moment I get positive feedback from the couple although they haven’t even seen a single picture yet! They have only shared the wedding experience with me and still we feel so close to each other. This moment is really special. And the love I receive from them takes our relationship to a whole new level!
How did you get into wedding photography?
The moment I held a camera in my hands for the first time I knew what I wanted to do in life. I remember myself always trying to capture in a picture everything the eye saw. While my initial photo themes were landscapes, still life and similar subjects, I gradually started discovering man within the larger picture. Although at first I avoided this because I wished to have more control on what I did, little by little I started realizing that without the human presence everything looked indifferent and soulless through the lens.
Today, as a professional photographer, I am fascinated by the thought that I can capture a moment for eternity. A moment that may seem unimportant now may be invaluable in the future and generate feelings of joy and strong emotions. This is what makes photography so thrilling. And you eventually become “addicted” to it. This is precisely the stage of my professional life that I have reached now.
Why photography? What draws you to it?
Photography and more specifically wedding photography is my greatest passion in life! The feeling that you can actually hold life still and capture moments forever, turning them into precious memories, is simply amazing! I have read a quote by a very important person: be generous in life and life will give you back everything you have given to others. This is exactly how I feel when I hold my camera.
Describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives.
Light, colourful, photo-journalistic, spontaneous, honest & passionate.
Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
The criteria for choosing the ideal wedding photographer are highly subjective, but I would advise them to look not for perfection, which is hard to achieve anyway, but for the personal attributes necessary for the creation of a bond with them. My advice to them would be to look for someone who will be totally focused on the effort not only to achieve technical perfection but also to capture faithfully feelings and emotions.
Let me put it differently. You can certainly find perfection around you in life: in the beauty of nature, in the colours of a flower, in the birth of a child. But when you are shooting a wedding as a wedding photographer you don’t seek after perfection; your eye is focused 100% on the emotions and feelings and on the overall atmosphere that you need to capture with your lens… So, couples should look for a photographer who will really want to be part of their celebration; if he really wants to be with them throughout this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the result is more likely to be perfect!
Any advice for couples on how to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs?
I always tell couples that the most important element in a wedding shooting, as in everything we do in life, is honesty. They must be who they really are and let this show and be reflected in every aspect of the wedding.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist?
Work hard! And try to be so good that nobody can afford to ignore you!
Thanks so much to Thanasis for sharing his insight and creative approach with us today! Love Thanasis’ work? Be sure to check out his Junebug member portfolio for more!