The photographer of famous portraits shares with us the trade secrets of his art and recollections from his meetings with top personalities of fashion, politics and culture from all around the world. He compares the era of the dark chamber with the times of digital editing and explains why in any professional photoshoot the ideas can only belong to the photographer.
The perfect photo starts from his imagination
By Christina Katsantoni
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
When he photographs, he falls in love for a moment. He envisions the light, the atmosphere, the movement, which gives to the moment the perfection that only the eye of a lover can create. The perfect photo for Takis Diamantopoulos always starts from imagination. He never liked the art of reporting, like "taking photos". He has always been a keen supporter of the art of "making photos", which means to enter the studio, to turn on the lights and to capture moments that reach perfection, only by using your imagination.
The first pictures
The camera has always been in his hands - he doesn’t even remember what his first camera was. Takis Diamantopoulos was born and raised in a family of photographers like his grandfather, his father and brother. He learned the secrets of photography in his father's studio, where he worked as an assistant for over 15 years. There, he became familiar with big names, who took their place in front of the lens of his father who was a great photographer. In this place he activated his imagination, putting his first ideas on paper. Some of them were torn by his father without any explanation, so he needed to understand why. The photographer's eye had to decide.
While working with his father, he took his first theatre photos with the National Theatre in Epidaurus, but also some fashion photos in shows that took place in high society salons. Since there were no magazines in Greece at the time, he was attracted by foreign magazines, which he browsed in central kiosks. The right moment came when the French Vogue decided to take a photo shoot in Greece. So the circumstances and luck led him to publish his first photos in the French Vogue, in 1972.
The photography wandering
In 1975, Takis along with his brother, Dinos, opened their own studio and a little later they published together the "Cover" magazine which worked for two years. In the early 1980s, Takis Diamantopoulos' photography wandering continued in Paris and Milan, where he collaborated for two years with the publishing house Condé Nast, before returning to Athens, where he now maintains his own studio.
By the time of the digital age, in the late '90s, he found with a quick thought that he had spent about 3.5 years of his life in the darkroom. He came out of it and enthusiastically accepted the new standards when he realised how many more possibilities the new technology could give to the photographer. But beware, in the beginning, it’s always the imagination; and as he explains, the philosophy of photoshop is that in order to edit a photo in it, you must already have a perfect photo…
The essence of photography
Throughout his career, Takis Diamantopoulos has taken photographs for most Greek and foreign magazines and has created photographic portraits of leading personalities from the Greek and international sphere, such as Catherine Deneuve, Hana Singoula, Paloma Picasso, Nastassja Kinski with Polanski, Brooke Shields with the hands on her chest, Melina Mercouri with closed eyes, Aliki Vougiouklaki brunette, Manos Katrakis as Don Quixote, Andreas Papandreou, Konstantinos Mitsotakis and many more politicians.
In any case, he always tries to do what he has imagined. Takis Diamantopoulos photographs quickly in order not to allow his models to acclimatize, so that they can start activating their own imagination. The ideas belong only to the photographer, says a basic principle of his. As for the essence of photography in portraits, which for him precedes all other photographs, it is found in the eyes. The problem is how to take out someone's eyes, something that he discovered through the photos which, without explanation, his father once used to tear…
His best photo
His best photo is always his last. He is happy when he achieves 50% of what he has imagined, but each time he claims something more.
In his personal life, Takis Diamantopoulos who sees his daughter, Sylvia, continuing the family’s photography tradition, declares himself unable to take a successful photo. He keeps his imagination for his work and his studio, where he turns on the lights, envisions perfection and competes every time with himself, trying to capture his vision.