Chris Kamberis is the creative force behind Trip and Trail, a travel photography publication with a focus on documenting places with photography. With a camera in hand and a deep-seated curiosity, Chris embarks on captivating journeys that bring distant places and diverse cultures to life through his lens.
In this exclusive interview, he unveils the intriguing story of his photographic journey, reveals the influences that have shaped his artistic vision, and delves into his approach to editing. Chris shares his motivations, drawing inspiration from various art forms, and reflects on the evolution of his craft.
From capturing the perfect light to honing his composition skills, Chris relentlessly pushes the boundaries of his art. He embraces the freedom to explore the vast spectrum of travel photography. Through his work, he invites viewers to immerse themselves in a world open to interpretation.
If you’d like to go on a visual adventure, join us as we delve into the captivating world of Chris Kamberis.
Brandon Ballweg: How did you get started in photography?
Chris Kamberis: I got my first point-and-shoot as a present from my godmother when I was around ten. It gave me countless moments of joy and few of disappointment, the biggest of them deriving from the inability to control anything outside the frame. Eventually, I gave up photography for almost two decades before picking it up again back in 2015, this time in digital.
I have always been very curious, and photography is the only way to satisfy my need to observe.
BB: What drew you specifically to travel photography?
CK: The ability to meet distant places and people through the lens, and the lack of any restriction in the genre. In travel photography, you can shoot architecture, street, food, documentary, landscape, and even fine art without crossing any boundaries.
I get to decide if I want to wake up in Madrid tomorrow and shoot street all day, or if I want to explore the food and document a bullfight for the first time. I get bored very easily, I don’t like restrictions.
BB: Who are your photographic influences?
CK: Everybody, in both conscious and subconscious levels. Bresson, Erwitt, Kudelka, Webb, Michael Kenna, Edward Curtis, Sam Abel, Costas Balafas, Don Mcculin. These are just a few names that come to mind right now. There are many more, and they all have given me something.
BB: Are there any photography books that inspired you or that you learned from?
CK: Yes, I’m a huge photo book fan and have a small collection that I treasure.
Some of my favorites are Magnum’s Contact Sheets, The suffering of light by Webb, Erwitt’s New York, Kenna’s Images of the seventh day, I could go on. For me, trying to be a good photographer without enjoying the work of the greats is like trying to be a writer without reading. You become better by rejecting the mediocrity of your work, and to do that you must have a refined taste. The only way to develop your taste is by looking at good photography.
BB: How would you describe your photographic style?
CK: I don’t think I have a defined photographic style. I mostly shoot color, but, if I think that black and white suits my story or project better, I won’t hesitate to switch. Sometimes I even apply subtle color grading, but not often. I mostly shoot wide and middle focal lengths.
BB: I’ve always had a minimalistic approach to photo editing to keep things authentic, and I think you share a similar style. What’s your approach to editing your photos?
CK: Indeed, I do, but instead of authentic, I would use the word organic. Dodging and burning may change the way the light hit the original scene, but it always has to feel plausible. I value post-editing a lot and have always believed that it’s a big part of photography, but it should always be “transparent”. An integral part of the image that you may sense but can’t put your finger on it.
BB: What inspires and motivates you to create?
CK: Lots of things inspire me: music, cinema, painting, design. As for motivation, I believe that it’s just a good habit. I don’t always feel to shoot spec work for my commercial portfolio, nor do I always feel like waking up in the middle of a freezing night to catch the good light on a landscape. Sometimes I just push myself to do it because I have to. Publishing a story can take anything from a couple of months, in digital, to two years in printed publications. Most of it is not shooting but pitching, emailing, and editing. Sheer excitement won’t get you through, you need some good old shut up and do it mentality.
BB: What would you like viewers to feel when they see your work?
CK: Anything. I hope that a big part of my work is open for interpretation, and I believe that this is the best way to connect with the viewers. It’s an unspoken pact; you bring in the work, and they should put in the imagination.
BB: In what ways has your photography evolved over the years, and is there a particular style that you’re gravitating towards?
CK: I’ve become better at finding good light and have improved my portrait work a lot. I always strive to improve my composition, timing, and editing. Evolving in photography often feels like banging your head on the wall, stopping periodically to evaluate your work, only to find it substandard and resume with the banging.
I don’t work towards any particular style.
BB: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share?
CK: Yes! There are many photographers and photographic projects that I discover from time to time, and they always get me excited. A week ago, I discovered this street photographer, and I really enjoyed his work on Eastern Bloc Central Europe. His name is Constantin Pittas, and there is a great documentary (Greek with English subs) about him on Vimeo, if you are interested: https://vimeo.com/392454256
BB: Where can people find your travel photography work?