By Stella Rapti
 #photography #art #fashion

Terry Tsiolis was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, but his childhood memories have an aroma of Greece. Thousands of miles away from their homeland, Terry Tsiolis' parents met, fell in love and had a son and two daughters without ever letting the traditions, manners and customs of their home country fall into oblivion. "At home we always spoke Greek", recalls Terry Tsiolis. "We listened to stories from our village and learned about Socrates and Plato. Outside the house, in the neighborhood and school, we were Canadians".

His father started working in restaurants and gradually created a chain of restaurants. On Sundays, the whole family dressed up and had lunch in one of them. His mother was one of the best and extremely skilled seamstresses. At home she had a small atelier and sewed. The kids were always around and saw her sewing, styling and flicking through Vogue for inspiration. These were Terry Tsiolis' first glimpses into the magical world of fashion. "I have a lot of memories from my parents. But the most important thing is: "Don't give up. Get up and try again''. 


Terry Tsiolis | Leaders Talk | Official Trailer

Watch the full Leaders Talk episode

Summer holidays forever
The most intense childhood memories are bathed in the light of Greece, with his grandparents in the leading role and life and activities in the village in a colorful background. Terry Tsiolis and his two sisters returned to the multicultural neighborhoods of Montreal to Chinese, Lebanese, Pakistani and Iraqi friends but also to "enemies" who always saw them as foreigners. Home life kept them strong by being a refuge for a shy Terry who counted few but good friends. He remembers himself in the role of the observer. At family celebrations and dinners he was the one behind the camera capturing valuable family moments.

Terry's egg

Terry Tsiolis studied in Montreal and did his Master's in communication, in New York, where he has lived permanently since 1992. He has always taken pictures and in a twist of fate, in the city that never sleeps he did a fashion photography seminar. An unexpected photo he took, an egg on a white background, attracted attention and earned him an internship placement at Harper's Bazaar at the very moment when, in the hands of creative director Fabien Baron, it was becoming the most important magazine in the world of fashion. "I didn't know how things work in a magazine, I didn't know there was a creative director, an editor-in-chief. And when I started in Harper's Bazaar, I had no idea what I wanted to do."

In New York, in the 80s and the 90s, Terry Tsiolis allowed himself to be influenced by images and experiences that would gradually define his photographic creations. "I started experimenting with models. I had never seen models before and once I started photographing them, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in a magazine. Everything happened very quickly, within six months I was working as a full-time fashion photographer", he reveals with a touch of nostalgia.  

From Isabeli Fontana to Jane Fonda

At the age of 27, he signed his first cover for Russian Vogue. He humbly says he was in the right place at the right time with important people supporting and believing in him. The carousel of success launched him and Terry Tsiolis ended up photographing the most famous models in the world as well as stars and cinema legends. With Isabeli Fontana, famous model from Brazil, there was a chemistry that is captured in epic fashion editorials. With Rihanna there was an admiration for a star who humbly entered the studio and introduced herself to all the members of the photography team. With Jane Fonda and Calvin Klein there was an initial fear that quickly turned into a creative collaboration and a result that made history in photography.
Instagram is redefining the limits of photography

In 2015, the photographer who loves people decided to move away from magazines and the fashion industry. He turned to everyday people, photographed them on the street, then invited them through his Instagram account to his studio and that's when he realised the power of social media. "I don't know what the future will look like, but we have to adapt to whatever is in front of us every time, or we will be lost. Maybe the photographer of the future will have a chip in his eye and take pictures every second," he said recently on the occasion of his first exhibition titled Portraits at the Benaki Museum.

Like a fashion heretic, Terry Tsiolis doesn’t recognise glamor in this industry. He only sees hard work, like everyone else, but also fierce competition and criticism. In the new journey he started in his career through the portraits of ordinary and everyday people, he discovers the magic of connection, the close interpersonal relationships that can be built in a few minutes and captured in even fewer clicks. Through his work and his choices, Terry Tsiolis deifies the modern concepts of diversity and inclusion.