Discover how Daimon Xanthopoulos, uses his GX8 on assignment
Daimon Xanthopoulos, National Geographic Contributer and Panasonic LUMIX Ambassador, talks about his latest photography project ‘FAITH’ and explains why he shoots with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8
Can you tell us more about your project, Faith?
The purpose of the documentary project “FAITH”, is to show the different and colourful communities who sustain and practice old beliefs in a modern way. I film and photograph the unique ceremonies associated with these beliefs and thus reveal how these ancient traditions prevail in many aspects of modern life: from the green mountains of Ireland which are home to druids and fairy festivals, to the dramatic landscape of Iceland where the rebirth of the Viking traditions and Norse religion can be witnessed; and from the mountain tops of Greece where a new society of the 12 Gods is gathering to the centre of Berlin, where there is a thriving community of witches who regularly perform ceremonies; I want to show the diversity of Faith in modern day Europe.
What shooting conditions do you face and what do you take with you?
In this project I focus on small groups of like-minded people who practise their beliefs privately which means that I have to be as inconspicuous as possible. I focus on these communities, their special events, secret places and ceremonial gatherings. I try to capture the sense of spirituality found in these groups and places. To do that I need a small camera that gives me high quality footage and keeps the intimacy of the moment. Being able to shoot both photography and video is also a big win. On top of this having a silent mode, a large selection of small lightweight lenses, DualIS stabilization and good weather sealing makes the LUMIX GX8 the perfect travel companion. I don’t have to carry a lot of heavy equipment all day and still I have lots of creative options in my bag. Being so versatile helps me also to maintain the intimacy of the moments that at the end makes the photography unique.
Why did you choose this project and where can we see it?
I believe that this work is important because, as many people question their own faith and spirituality, it illustrates both our diversity and similarities. By highlighting these communities and the ways in which they practise their faith I can show the many connections that faith has with a person’s own culture and life. The project has just started and I’m working now in Ireland and Iceland. You can see some of the images on my Instagram account @daimonx and of course on the Lumix G Experience website. A selection of my stories will also published by large media organizations starting with National Geographic Netherlands.
Can you tell us about three of your favourite pictures?
When I was photographing this druid full moon ceremony, I was searching for the right combination of the atmosphere and the ceremony itself. These ceremonies are small gatherings at night with just a little fire in the middle of the circle and are very beautiful. I wanted to zoom out of the scene with a shutter speed of 1.5 sec, handheld, using a wide lens to reduce visual camera vibration. The zooming out while the shutter is open gives this picture the feeling of a double exposure. For the story, the image gives a feeling of ancestors watching over them, a perfect combination of the atmosphere and the ceremony.
There are many local tales in Wicklow centered around stones and water. To photograph these tales metaphorically I decided to use a long exposure, to give the water an interesting texture. I used the shutter simulation in the LUMIX GX8, mounted on a tripod and changed the shutter speed until I saw the desired effect in my electronic viewfinder. Being able to see what you are shooting before you shoot it is a big advantage for me and saves a lot of time.
Just as we were landing in Iceland, our plane descended through the clouds and I saw this breathtaking landscape. Within a split second I took my camera out of my pocket and shot five pictures before we where in cloud again. When people ask me what is your best camera I always think back to these kinds of moments. The best camera is the one you can always have with you. Being able to have a high quality camera in my pocket helps me to capture these moments instantly. These moments are very important in shooting magazine stories as you build your story on a few unique moments and there is no way you can go back and take these shots again. Wether it’s the amazing light or a unique scenery, make sure you are ready to capture it.
What are your tips for working with the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 and photography in general?
First of all make sure you use the right lenses for the scene. For example, having a LUMIX 12-35 f2.8 is a great choice as not only is it a top performing lens but also uses the Dual IS function of your camera. I also always carry the 7-14mm f4.0 to get different angles in my photo stories. When not shooting, the camera fits perfectly in my pocket with the small LUMIX 15mm f1.7 lens and is ready when needed. This lens and body combination is perfect for most of my photography and very compact.
Another thing I personally do is set the camera white balance to daylight. This way I can capture the color of light as with a old fashioned slide-film. For me colour is as important as the composition and is very powerful when used in the right way. Working with prime leses and in manual mode helps you to better understand the impact of your camera settings. For the first few months it creates a bit of extra work but afterwards it has a lot of benefits. When I’m shooting now I know exactly what lens I want to use for what shot and I have trained myself to see the light better.
What is your secret of inspiring photography?
The most important tip I believe is to have fun taking photographs and sharing your visual world. Taking photographs can is a very personal experience and showing them to strangers can be scary, especially when asking for feedback. Having fun taking photographs is the most important part of photography for me and it’s what photography is all about. Visually sharing your vision of what matters to you.