George Panagakos Photography


Tourist Shooting – Washington, D.C.

So, back at it. And for good reason: it’s time. It’s been a wild ride. Major life changes – with no small amount of crazy. And crazy busy. Grateful to say hello again to this process here – and to let it be a part of my process.

So, in the early days, I took my cameras everywhere; bought 35mm slide film by the 100-roll case; shot and shot and blew all my money on that film and the processing of it. I was excited. Life was good.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Photography still excites me, but life tends to quell that excitement at times. Things have become a case of doing it because I am getting paid. Mostly. Even though liabilities have increased dramatically recently (gulp), 2011 and 2012 have been very busy, solid years and I’ve had plenty time behind the lens, and it’s been mostly satisfying work. I have a recently-formed association with a long time friend, colleague and stalwart of the industry, Jim Raycroft. For anyone who knows Jim, it is needless to say that we are on the road – a whole lot. Thankfully, it’s the end of the busy season and I have time to sit and write on this here blog.

A friend said to me recently: “I’ve never watched you shoot”. Her words did not strike me immediately as being anything more than expressing interest in seeing me do my thing. But, as is my nature, words often take time to soak in. Those words eventually came to be understood, whether intended or not, as “George, why have I never seen you shoot?” Well, damn the torpedoes. I’m going to start doing my own stuff for my own reasons again.

The most recent trip was to Washington, D.C. and New York City for a couple of hotel properties and – what else – a big boat. It’s great work, but all work and no play  has been my story, lately. Sad. Sort of. Unless you are reading this and have no work. Which, as we all know, is the case with too many people.

So, I found a few hours one morning to go and make some photographs. I have spoken on this blog about photo walks before (see: Following Through on a Threat) I have not yet learned to detach. No; far from it. But, I had gotten used to just walking by the same places again and again making something from nothing. Making something from things I’d seen a hundred times and finding a new way to look at them. Exciting.

So, we’ve all seen these couple of Washington things before. Here is my take on them.

It felt good to simply be a Tourist. Shooting.

P.S.: The launch of a major, long-term project is under way. The first shoot is arranged and the team is being assembled. Some of you may have heard something of it before. It is evolving, conceptually and strategically – as this blog will. I’ll keep you posted.


The Ones I Come Back To

I imagine it is the same with many of us. Photographers, that is. I make a photograph. I look at it. I may just skim through the frames, looking for “The One”. I don’t find it. I move on.

Time passes, I look at it again. It strikes me. “Can it be the same photograph I saw before? How? Why didn’t I see it? By what criteria am I judging this time. By what did I judge six months ago?”

It is baffling. I am, often times, not a good judge of my own work. I am too attached to it. Many of us are too attached to our own work, I think. But there’s a conundrum in my psyche. On the one hand, it may be insecurity that tells me that my stuff sucks. On the other hand, it’s as though like my work is a part of me, no less than an eye or a limb.

Another conundrum lies in that I have spoken of attachment on this blog before; about how necessary it is to undertake the task of purging it. Certainly, a near-impossible task except for the most holy of people. For the rest of us, the process of incremental advancement on that path will have to suffice.

Here is a photograph of a little boy who had his face painted as a tiger at a sort of a block party the night before, in a little village in Greece last summer. His demeanor as I was photographing him was one of total connection, of “OK, here I am. I am yours. Make my photograph. Make a hundred . . . make a thousand.” But he never said a word. Silence. It was almost spiritual.

Until he said: “How many pictures are you gonna take?”

Then we were done.

I finally found a vacancy.

A Final Fikardou.

It is surely apparent that I was taken by this little village, and having made two posts on it already, one might think that is enough. But no, it is not. I would be remiss to not make a little recap including some of the things I have written about but not shown in pictures. The little tavern, our feast, my nephew (2), and of course, one, last, lonely door.

I must make a little note here regarding my approach during this trip and from around this time forward. There has been a shift in the way I am approaching my picture  making. This shift can be attributed, and gratefully so, to a sort of a mentor, coach, consultant, call him what you will. His name is Ian Summers and you can find him at Ian came to my studio from Pennsylvania in early this month and we had some wonderful discussions, heartstorming, planning, preparing etc. etc. etc. We are on the phone almost daily, massaging the plan, collaborating, creating. It is inspiring, hopeful, ambitious, wonderful. George is gonna be the talk of the town before long.

I’ll be back next time with some selects from my photo walks.

Peace be with you,

Doors. Of Fikardou.

Doors. I experience deja-vu every time I think about the word. The discussion I read as a teenager in “No One Here Gets Out Alive” about how the band the Doors came upon their name, has the image stuck in my mind forever. Doors of perception, doors to the unknown, doors to – and all that psychedelic stuff, y’know?

Well, times change and so does George (well, ok, kind-of). I still see doors as highly symbolic, and the symbolism doors hold is deeply entrenched in humanity’s collective consciousness, for sure, and has been since time immemorial. Old Testament (Deut. 6:6-9) and New Testament (Mt. 7:7-14) symbolism include themes of deliverance, bondage and danger. If we search annals of human creativity from those times onward, and, before, I am sure, certainly there are myriad uses of doors, gates, entryways, to represent the creator’s efforts at conceptualizing thoughts that doors provide a choice tool for doing.

That said, the photographs below were made with absolutely zero consciousness of the fact that I made so many photographs of doors in such a short period of time. Go figure.

Doors of Fikardou. Enjoy!

Fikardou. If you don’t speak Greek, don’t even try to pronounce it.

Though the trip to Cyprus was due to such a mournful loss for our family, we did take some time out of our very busy few days to visit a fascinating and beautiful place. There is a village that is said to be the oldest historically intact in Cyprus, less than an hour south of the divided Capital city of Lefkosia (Nicosia). Its name is Fikardou and it is deserted by all but 4 permanent inhabitants. Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage (Fikardou) list of sites of cultural and historical significance, it received the Europa Nostra prize in 1987 , for conservation and adaptation efforts undertaken there.

After stuffing ourselves at the tiny little village tavern with village sausage, grilled haloumi cheese, wild greens with eggs, fried chicken livers, pastitsio, lamb chops, salads, etc., etc., etc – and after a few jesting (but loving) comments that only close friends and family can make about my cameras being appendages on my body, I excused myself from the table to use what precious little time we had to go outside and photograph the surroundings. I had great company in my little nephew Marcos, who barely left my side during the entire trip.

I hope you enjoy these, there will be more to follow: