George Digalakis creates minimalist, melancholic, black-and-white imagery, sometimes compositing them in Adobe Photoshop.

From Physician to Photographer

By Alyssa Coppelman

George Digalakis makes dreamy black-and-white pictures that are both naturalistic and vaguely surreal. The flux and flow between these often-opposing forces adds visual allure to his work.

Digalakis was trained as a physician and now works in the medical insurance sector in his native Athens, Greece. He learned how to print film in a darkroom after his father gave him a Nettar camera in 1974, but he didn't become serious about photography until 2011. He now uses the medium to express his inner world; he calls shooting images and post-processing them in Adobe Photoshop his ”getaway from reality.” 

Digalakis’s influences are varied. “Minimalism, as a philosophy of both art and life,” he says, “has deeply influenced my work. The influence from minimalist photographers, such as Michael Kenna, can be seen clearly in my seascapes. On the other hand, the street photography of Harry Callahan and Giacomo Brunelli, with the extensive use of dark tones to highlight the melancholic mood of their work, has clearly left an imprint on my urban imagery."

And here's something you might not guess by looking at Digalakis’s quietly moody photos: He's a hard-rock fan. "It’s the music I listen to while processing my images," he says. "Among my favorite bands are ACDC, Guns and Roses, Metallica, and Deep Purple." He's also a bookworm. "I often find inspiration in various literary genres. In fact, I am currently working on a project titled 'Praise of Shadows' that is inspired by the same–titled book by Junichiro Tanizaki.”

Digalakis shoots his photos in Athens. While some of his work is straightforward, long-exposure landscape photography, he constructs other images out of several shots. No purist, he's happy to build these images as he dreams them up. For example, “Fence and Birds” is composed of six original photos: the wire, the sky, and four birds. He composites in Photoshop: “I use most of the tools, but the ones I couldn't live without are Layers, Cloning, Selection tools, Color Range Selection, Spot Healing, History, Eraser, Gradient, Dodge and Burn, Curves, Levels, Blur...I better stop myself or I'll make a full list of the tools.”

Digalakis spent 10 to 15 hours working on the 19 layers that make up “Fence and Birds” (left). "Stairway to the Clouds" (right) involved 23 images and 75 layers. "The hardest part of processing such images is the selection and isolation of certain elements," he says.

Digilakis loves to grow in both the technical and artistic sense. “Stagnation is the enemy of any artist," he says, "so I try to explore new ideas and constantly run projects with different styles and themes.”