Helias Doulis, "Parabyss - A Nurtured Nature, 2015", "Colby Digital, 2019", "Blossom of Solitude, 2017", "Sheltered, 2016", "AMO, 2020", "Ode to Prince, 2018"
Q: How do you reveal identity in a portrait?
A: There is a unique conversation - I usually conform to nature, or what I call ‘nurtured nature’ when it comes to forming an identity. Semi hidden but always present, the body shapes a transparent physique, where the unknown meets clarity. An at times silent or talkative body, whose language is accessible to the unconscious eye, sculpts its own existence and remains pathetic till the very moment I choose to shoot.
Q: Is a portrait always the outside of an inner world?
A: You don’t need a whole figure to shape one’s world. A knee, a pair of arms or a blurred silhouette in the distance can become a world in itself. In the early stages of my photographic career, I have been lucky enough to work with bodies that were as fragile as needed, as raw as wanted - ready to devour and create several worlds in front of my lens. I experience a pair of eyes the same way I experience a subject’s chest.
Q: Can nudity in portraiture be seen independently from its sexual associations?
A: As an artist, I have never linked the two. There is a very fine, but not that discreet, line between being nude and being intentionally sexual, even when the shoots are erotically themed. Being naked in the art world is unfortunately still taboo, inappropriately perceived by most, and rooted in patriarchy. Social media is still not fond of nude art, putting us queer photographers into an agonizing position; trying to protect a history that’s long-oppressed, yet forever evolving.
Q: What do you think is a misconception about portraiture?
A: People often think of portraits as the true identity or original representation of one’s self. There are times photographers do not reveal what’s expected for their audience, which to me as a professional feels similar to the way psychotherapists guide their subjects through a session. It takes two to reveal or hide a truth that might not be ready to accommodate the surface of society. It’s a unique code between the photographer and their subject that encrypts a potential misconception for the viewer.
Q: Do you use a (recurring) conscious strategy to arrive at an image?
A: I’d call myself marginally conceptual when it comes to shoots, normally setting up scenarios where my subjects can perform under surveillance. The lens becomes an observatory where they’re documented and guided through a theme that naturally evolves through them. They are free to practice an initial internal experience until I guide them to an edge and then shoot. It’s a hunting process, a memory gun that captures what’s unseen.
Visit Helias' site here.