Maria Paraskevopoulou

 

Maria! Hello. Being located in London you’ve come an awfully long way from your Architectural studies – now covering fashion photography at a degree level standard. With a rather impressive websiteinstagramtwitter and facebook following I think an interview is in order. Don’t you? 

Being based in London is a busy place to be; how did you find studying in the centre of England?

Hello there! Gosh, I still remember that September of 2010. I had finished high school that summer and I was so excited to leave my country and move to London wanting to enlarge my horizons, meet new people and cultures. At the same time I was feeling so lost and a bit scared! For me it was a big step to live away from my parents, in a different country, which I had never visited before by that time. As the years passed by I learned to adjust, I now speak the language pretty well (with my Cypriot accent of course) and different experiences helped me to get stronger in many different perspectives. 

London is my second home now in a way that I could not imagine myself somewhere else. It offers so many opportunities especially for the creative individuals like me. I found studying in London very exciting. This amazing city provides every kind of knowledge to the students and not only. Life can be really expensive but there are many free things one can do and get educated from, such as museums, independent galleries, exhibitions, late night events, festivals and markets are few to be named as my experiences as a student. There’s always something happening that keeps me on alert and makes it impossible to be bored. Studying and leaving in London for the past 6 years has indeed shaped my life. 
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When was it that you realised you wanted to pursue photography, in particular fashion?

This is the biggest chapter in my life; photography was always in me. Since my teenage years I was wondering around with a camera making sure I was capturing the best moments of my life. I fell in love with film in the age of 12 when my Dad let me use his Olympus SLR camera for a school trip of mine. I remember until today the feeling of holding the camera and pressing the shutter button. I thought ‘that was it, it only takes a second to press a button and capture a moment of a lifetime.’ It was indeed a moment of a lifetime. I captured my best friend with whom I still am friends until today and whenever I look back at it, the exact moment becomes alive in my head. 
 
As years passed by and me living in a country with quite few strong stereotypes, my enthusiasm for photography became a secret in me. Nobody knew about it. Because of my environment and me coming from a family with no artists or creatives at all, I thought I wanted to become (another) architect which meant a guaranteed job with a good salary and so on so forth. Architecture is great -don’t get me wrong. I believe that is an open art that allows us to walk in it, it’s just not for anyone who is not excited about it. The luck of enthusiasm in something, can reflect on the final work and this is something I strongly pay attention at. 
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Long story short, I applied to study architecture but it was not long when I noticed that it was not for me. I was failing the first year and by that time I realised that I was falling in a path that was not for me. I was studying to shape a life that I did not want. I definitely wanted to study photography and explore the world of it. 
 
At my first try to talk to my parents and express my feelings about it I failed but I do not blame them. You see, photography in where I come from is quite narrowed in few perspectives and that made it hard for my parents to understand what photography meant to me. As a second try, I agreed to repeat the first year of architecture where I found myself being anxious and not wanting to attend any of the lessons. That was the time when I realised that I was losing precious time of my life; it was the moment to turn everything around without letting anyone stop me or tell me what to do. 2013 was the time when I applied to study photography in different Universities in London where I got successfully in including the one I was already studying architecture. 
 
My journey was beginning with my parents aboard after leaving them with not other option. I would like to notice here how thankful I am for having them next to me and supporting me in every step of my life until now.
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Photography is an amazing medium and having studied it allowed me to learn more about its history, meet some really interesting and intelligent people in the field as well as practising my skills. Being interested in fashion started back in 2011 when I started collecting the British Vogue. As cliché as it might sound, Vogue made me fall in love with Fashion Photography. I started to explore and learn more about fashion editorials and my research started from magazines moving to books, attending exhibitions and of course clicking every possible link I could find on the internet. Fashion photography is the genre whose purpose is to sell lifestyle and promote clothes. What is behind it, is the huge amount of effort, the countless hours and the many talents and individuals it takes to create such a result. By reading searching and exploring more about it, I started dreaming of becoming one of those in the team and that is my main goal until now: to create editorials with storytelling that make the readers getting lost in them.
 

How did you find the transition between being a student to becoming a graduate?

From being a student to a graduate is a big transition especially for someone who is from another country. It is hard, exciting and inspirational all at the same time. I found myself applying for any possible job I could find in the field of photography as soon as I graduated, wishing to receive a reply. I lost the count on how many companies or magazines have my CV by now. 
 
The truth is that is difficult to get in the industry; it takes time and patience. Being in a country that nobody knows you makes the process even more hard as I am the one to create connections and promote myself. If I was to give an advice to other graduates or students right now I would say to not lose their positivity and keep pushing towards what they want. Most of the times in life we get what we truly want and deserve but we need a lot of patience. 
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Has graduated life met your expectations?

I believe that is a bit early to talk about expectations. I have only finished my studies this May and I can tell that I am not doing so bad. I like having some expectations but I prefer to act with a plan of mine without thinking of any results. What I want to say is that it is good to have some expectations but keep them low because once being disappointed you will need some time to recover and time is crucial in an industry which moves fast. 

 
 

What slice of information would you tell you five years ago?

To speak up, not being afraid of being myself and not letting anyone bring myself down. That cost me a lot but I learned that there is a reason behind everything and even if I knew that back then, I would not be the person I am today. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, not matter how long that tunnel might be. 
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Tell me a little about how you come about starting a project – do you propose ideas and concepts to the client at hand, or look for specific work? Introduce me to the wonderful world of photography…

Most of the times I look out for individuals to work with, like stylists, designers etc. In that case it is me who has the theme and mood of the photo shoot as most of the times I look forward creating stories for fashion editorials. After everything is set and I have the team on board, each one of them adjusts within the story and takes over his/her role. For example the MUA will do the needed make up style for the model and the same goes to the rest of the team. 
 
In other cases, if I have a client coming to me asking for specific shoots I like to sit down and talk with him/her about the mood of the shoot, maybe discuss the poses, how long it will take us and so forth. Generally I like to gain a good relationship with the team I have on board and if I am shooting for a client I like to make sure that they are happy with what they are getting and in reverse I am happy because I do my job and my client is pleased and will come back. 
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Name three things that you just couldn’t work without…
Besides my photographic equipment I couldn’t work without:
1. My phone obviously as I like to keep my social media platforms updated; lame but true. 
2. Music! Mostly punk rock.
3. Good Energy! Why the opposite anyway? 
 
 

Quick round questions!!

Biscuits or cake? Both with a bit of ice cream on top. Thanks!
Taking the photos or seeing the final results? Is this question for real? Both! You can’t make me choose! 
Concept or final piece? Concept always. 
Tea or coffee? Coffee three times a day 🙂
Jokes or serious conversation? Both when appropriated! 
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