Interview with Paul Shiakallis

by Wednesday, October 16, 2013

fa4225b73405adfe2de4de4ca6172af1Hello Paul, first of all, tell us something about your upcoming work. What are you into at the moment?

I have started delving into motion. Music videos, shortfilms and stills motion. Motion is similar to stills but a very different discipline. Its all a visual process though and thats what im interested in. I want to be able to apply the same subject matter and treatments from my stills into my motion.


Would you give a brief walk through your workflow?

I always start by looking at various images, from advertising to art to documentary. Once an idea is sparked, i look at my immediate resources; like what locations i can use and who would be interested as the subject. Once i start shooting all references are put away, and i let my personal voice take over. I then adjust lighting, subject direction etc according to what feels right to me.


8a0b08182510b0242a43fd3af9cb2ab2How has your work evolved over the years from when you where beginning?

The subject matter is still pretty much the same, and i dont think that will ever change too drastically as it is who i am. I used to shoot people i knew, and that was a comfort zone because it was easy to approach them. Nowadays i approach people i hardly know. For example i will walk up to a complete stranger and ask them if i can photograph them for a personal project in their personal space. And i will do this even when i dont have a concept yet, his method helps force me to think of a new project.


Tell us something about your clients, do you feel there’s something different out there, I mean, a different way to approach the creative process? 

I think that creatives at the ad agencies, where they can, should consult with photographers on treatments for their concepts before they present to their client. This happens in the film/ motion industry, where creatives consult with directors. In effect photographers are also directors, as well as producers. Also, with regards to retouching if a client references your personal work for a shoot, then the photographer must be the one responsible for retouching and grading it according to the style of the referenced image. Sometimes there is just too many hands in the pie.


fd0b4e68115908e203322fcb9d80269eHow have you handled the business side through these “horrible years”?

Firstly, as soon as money comes in, I invest it in an account where i cannot touch it. Secondly, i have formed a couple of collaborations with other photographers and DOP’s, in this way we bounce work off each other and pitch work to potential clients that we work on together. I was in new york for a short trip last year and i realized how difficult it is to get by if you dont have a full time job. You have to drop your pride and make money where you can. Since then i have taken any opportunity that comes my way, even if it means shooting a wedding, assisting or retouching for others. There are opportunities in every situation, you just have to be able to recognize them.


How do you choose the next project to be involved in?

Sometimes it has to do with a new piece of equipment or technique i want to try out. Or sometimes i meet someone or find a place that i would like to photograph. I then conceptualize and shoot.


fcc47daa96fa1f9158ba0fd944a769d2Who’s the first photographer that comes to your mind in a second?

Larry Sultan


What’s the place or what do you do when you feel you’re thinking in a bright way?

Theres something about the suburbs that inspires me. Whenever i drive through a suburb or a small town i have never been to, i get a hit of inspiration. Its especially the suburbs that have the timeless quality about them. I spend my time driving around looking for the local park or school, and observing its people. Johannesburg is full of diverse neighborhoods and people.


97b5af0b2b51524760de7cca70ae1023Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.

Live and work in another country


Something you want the world to know about you.

I worked on the cash register at my parents convenience store from the age of 10 until the age of 30


Something that annoys or frustrates you about people.

I hate it when people say the word photoshop on shoots.


8a9b44e4b9d3bbbf781359ce9faeab8eYour idea about social networks.

They are such powerful tools for marketing and communication, facebook is brilliant for casting people for a shoot. Apps like instagram for example allow me shoot things i normally couldnt while i was walking or driving around with my professional camera; as well as let you build a following of people that never knew you existed.


What’s overrated/underrated today?

Overrated: Big Hollywood Blockbusters with the insane amount of special and visual effects used. I am usually in awe for the first 30min of such a film, and then i become desensitized and cant wait for it to end. Underrated: Taking a photo and uploading it without grading it

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