John Kolesidis

John Kolesidis

Based
Athens, Greece
Born
Athens, Greece
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 1D Mark IV
“I’ve learnt that a ‘great’ picture is possible, even if you are not dealing with a ‘great’ issue.”

Beat

I cover social unrest, demonstrations, wildfires, sports and political events in Greece.

One Shot

. PATRA, Greece. REUTERS/John Kolesidis
Tzan Taher, a 23-year-old immigrant from Afghanistan, finds shelter behind a huge advertising billboard in the Greek town of Patra.
“This is not what we might call a ‘great' picture, but it shows what a person can go through in order to survive. It was taken in the city of Patra, the main gateway for immigrants who want to leave Greece for other European destinations. It shows a man from Afghanistan who shacked up behind a huge billboard next to the highway leading to the port. The irony is that the front part of the billboard reads ‘Welcome to Patra’.”

Profile

Before I graduated from high school, I remember spending endless hours at a nearby studio next to a photographer, gazing at cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods, etc. That same year, I bought myself my very first camera, a Zenit with a 50mm lens.

I had made up my mind to go into advertising, but after I graduated from the School of Study and Practice of Photography (EMEF) in Athens, the first job I managed to get was at a local photojournalism agency. That’s how I got hooked.

My first assignment was in Cairo in 1996, when a terrorist attack on a tourist coach carrying Greek passengers killed 18 people. I covered the event for a local photojournalist agency. That’s where I learnt what teamwork is all about and what it’s really like to work under extreme pressure.

The thing that excites me the most is getting to know the ways of life of people from different religious and cultural backgrounds, and understanding their struggle to survive. I like anything that brings me face to face with a different reality to the one I am used to.

A trip to Niger, Africa, made the biggest impression on me. I accompanied a Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) mission, and I realised that man’s real needs are water, food and shelter.

I'm trying to deepen my approach to my subjects. I try not to focus just on taking a nice, individual picture, but to tell a story through my images.

I’ve learnt that a “great” picture is possible, even if you are not dealing with a “great” issue.

Once an image is out of the hands of its creator, there is no way you can control its fate or the purposes it may serve if it gets misinterpreted.

My job is a constant switching of emotions: joy, success and happiness, as well as frustration, fear, sorrow, and back again, depending on where you choose to turn your camera. It is not a job; it’s more like a way of life.

My recent passion is video making; I still haven’t explored the potential it has for me to its fullest extent. Painting was my passion before I took up photography, and I would really like to do it again at some point.

If I hadn’t become a photojournalist I probably wouldn’t have visited all those incredible places, I wouldn’t have met all those amazing people, and I wouldn’t have savoured all those powerful experiences that photojournalism has offered me.

Behind the Scenes

. Madaoua, Niger. Reuters
Reuters photographer John Kolesidis shows his pictures to mothers at a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic in Niger.
. Athens, Greece. Reuters
Kolesidis takes pictures during an anti-austerity rally in central Athens.