Photojournalist Louisa Gouliamaki
Interview: Nezih Tavlas / April 21, 2021
“Photojournalism is an international language”
(Courtesy of Louisa Gouliamaki)
Photojournalism News: What drew you to photojournalism?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I grew up in Poland, witnessed the ' Solidarity' movement in 1981, the martial law, tanks on the streets. My elder brother was photographing the events for a student's magazine, was helping him developing films in bathroom it was exiting, covering a moment in history. Photojournalism ability to record history, its international language and possibility to work in any part of the world. Years after when I was studying photography in Greece, the war in former Yugoslavia broke up-I managed to go there with an humanitarian aid, wanted to understand-why another war in Europe ?-got published locally, and was offered a stringer position in EPA along with my studies
Photojournalism News: What equipment do you use? Do you have a favourite lens/camera?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I work with @Nikon, for demos/ action I rely on Nikon D5 and 24-70/2.8, for features and everyday coverage/video I usually use the mirrorless Z6.
Photojournalism News: What social media platforms do you use?
Photojournalism News: How do you prepare yourself before any assignment? What would you put in your camera bag for a typical task?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Two cameras, 24-70 and 70-200/2.8, 35mm 1.4 for low light conditions and portraits. Batteries, a mifi, a power bank. Often a 3rd camera, sometimes a super telephoto lens (eg.on Aquarius).My basic equipment is always ready, with charged batteries etc..
Photojournalism News: How would you best describe your style of work? What are you trying to say with your photography?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I'm a photojournalist. I try to put the audience in the situation I found myself, show what I witnessed and felt. The human aspect, sometimes a gaze of a person might say lots more than an image showing conflict
Photojournalism News: How many photos do you take for one story?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I tend to shoot a lot, but the edit would limit to more or less 20 pictures. Unless its a breaking news story with a lot of interest and constant developments.
Photojournalism News: What is the last trip you made?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Covered the aftermath of a migrants camp fire and the fate of (once more) displaced migrants and refugees. In Athens mainly protests related to Covid-19 restrictions, police interventions and violence, a curb in democratic rights.
Photojournalism News: What projects will you be working on next?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Guess anything related to 'post-Covid' social and economic consequences. On personal level, will continue working with refugee and Greek (fabulous!) girls on a project with @GlobalGirlsMedia.
Photojournalism News: Which of your photographs would you describe as your favourite? What makes them so special to you?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Most assignments end up with some favorite photos. I have a few of them, some won some awards some I just like, remember the situation, the stories, and especially the people behind them.
Photojournalism News: What message do you want your photos to convey?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Giving voice to my subjects. Making the audience react! Its rare to change the decision-makers actions because of reports, but saw people changing minds and stance after seeing photos or reportage’s, prompting them to act. That's a win.
(Courtesy of Louisa Gouliamaki)
Photojournalism News: What does a photo need to be great in your eyes?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Should be of great content, aesthetic and composition, have an interesting narration. Draw the viewers to the subject. Make them think. "A good picture knows how to communicate the emotion that created it."- Willy Ronis.
Photojournalism News: In the digital age people consume billions of photos every single day, under the circumstances what could make a photo memorable?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I guess its importance, either historical or social. A great capture of an important event often with a strong human impact.
Photojournalism News: What motivates you to continue taking pictures and what do you do to keep motivated?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Thats what I do...I follow news, they prompt me to go out there and report, after filtering what's important in my eyes . Yet, I m a wire photographer.
Photojournalism News: What was the biggest professional risk you have taken and what was the outcome?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I guess staying on the same position for the last few years! But seriously while reporting conflict or civil unrest, a brief with colleagues on ground, instinct and experience are good advisors. I got away with just a few scars and broken teeth
Photojournalism News: What would be your dream assignment?
Louisa Gouliamaki: A longer-term multimedia project, maybe with support of an NGO for change. Would like as well to work on a story in Poland. Now, if these are my dream assignments, I really dont know. Just some ideas.
Photojournalism News: What are the essential skills/ qualities a photojournalist should have?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Empathy, courage, dedication. General culture, respect towards others.
Photojournalism News: What do you think about the digital manipulation of images?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Altering an image, resulting in faking of the news or staging an event is not photojournalism. Some lost their jobs because of it.
Photojournalism News: What does it mean to be an ethical photographer?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Respect, don't harm. Be aware of cultural habits and restrictions. Be accurate with your captioning. Be human…
Photojournalism News: How do you see the role of photojournalism evolving in the world? Do you think photojournalism is losing its importance?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I think it still has its importance. It has to do as well with credibility of some of the major media outlets which hire professionals, or/and use agencies, which have rules. Social media have importance, too, just need some filtering. We might all expand our reporting towards new platforms, we anyway constantly adapt to the new challenges and technology.
Photojournalism News: What is it like to be a female photojournalist in a male-dominated field?
Louisa Gouliamaki: I don't recall major problems with my colleagues while working in field, au contrary, I won their respect, was praised for publications in major media outlets etc. I still don't. But, had to pull out from conflict reporting after having my daughter, was covering sports and social unrest instead, have heard from a (female) chief that smb else took an assignment cos' I' m a mother ( although my daughter was a teenager by than) and my colleagues have children as well. Its more complicated as an older female photojournalist co-working with younger ambitious and competitive colleagues. The experience loses its importance, in the era of new media and their potential and I guess its seen like that by companies.
Photojournalism News: Do you have any advice for aspiring photojournalists?
Louisa Gouliamaki: Be humble, patient, try to develop your own style, specialize in a field along with your interests and abilities, be a real friend with your colleagues, respect them, learn languages! and say yes to internships or mentorships, if you just start. They might lead to publications which will earn you publicity or some further cooperation.
Louisa Gouliamaki is a Greek-Polish photojournalist working with Agence-France Presse based in Athens, Greece. Throughout her career, Louisa has been covering conflicts like the Albanian revolution, the Kosovo War and its aftermath in the region for the European Pressphoto Agency, the conflict in Georgia and the effects of Libya conflict, the anti-globalisation violent protests in Europe, the riots in Athens, Georgia conflict, the economic and political turmoil in Greece, the Ukraine's revolution and the refugee crisis. She was awarded multiple international awards, and her work was presented at international festivals and galleries.