Greek photographer Charalampos Kydonakis (known online as Dirty Harrry) is one of the more intriguing contemporary street shooters out there. A member of the beloved collective iN-PUBLiC, this inventive and original artist was born and raised on the wild shores of Crete in Greece. His vision of the world is correspondingly savage and beautiful.
In the following interview, we learn more about his work and his thoughts about street photography today:
LC: Each of your images, beside being masterfully composed, has a strong and highly idiosyncratic aesthetic. Is this a conscious effect you are seeking to produce?
CK: I don’t find much meaning in images that intend to show the world as it is. I’ve always admired those photographers who can turn reality instinctively into a parallel story, built with a question mark around it.
I don’t know if I achieve this completely in all of my images—but I do know that when I find there’s no degree of “extension” in an image I have shot, I delete it.
I also don’t know if I consider myself a street photographer or something else. Any specific term, genre or whatever seem like a prison to me. I simply call my images “dirty photos”: when I see something that I’d like to shoot, I go there and take one or more photos of it. That’s all, no secret behind it; everyone can do it.
LC: Your projects are each introduced by a quote—Jean-Luc Godard, Marc Chagall, Alfred Hitchcock among others. What is the connection between your work and these great figures?
CK: When I started shooting photographs, I was hanging around with a camera without thinking too much. This began to change in recent years: I try to express some thoughts in my work without losing the freedom of shooting without limitations.
For example, whenever I read something thought-provoking, I keep a note in my mind. Often these words combine with my memories and help me unify my feelings and my images. This happens organically throughout the process, not necessarily beforehand or afterward. As Jean-Luc Godard said: ”A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.”
LC: Is there a particular picture that has a strong personal significance to you?
CK: I don’t have a “favorite” photo but if I had to select one, I would pick an image shot in the night (especially since all the photos featured here were shot in daylight). The full story behind this image can be found in an old forum discussion—start after the comment, “dam, cat ears has gone from the pool!”
LC: Can you talk about your editing/selection process a bit? As your audience, we only ever see the final work that comes out the other side. But what goes in beforehand?
CK: After shooting, I let some time pass and then I look at my images. I immediately delete the ones I don’t like, keep the ones that look OK and even the ones I’m not sure about. Then, I look at them again in the future, when I delete some others and end up with a mix that could fit either in an existing body of work or form the basis of a new one.
I feel that shooting and editing are a never-ending process. At the same time, I try to search continuously for the work of other photographers: I edit a blog featuring photos made by people that I find inspiring. Over time, this experience has really helped me curate my own images too.
—Charalampos Kydonakis, interviewed by Winifred Chiocchia