Yianni Aspradakis – Celebrity, Travel and Fashion Photographer

A Sydney based photographer for the last 10 years, Yianni Aspradakis has chartered a body of work embraced by leading publications and built a prolific portfolio & photographic style that ranges from editorial to characteristic celebrity portraiture & dramatic travel images from Europe, Asia and Australia.

Born on the island of Crete, Greece, Yianni moved to Sydney in 1999 and completed an Arts degree in Visual Media Arts from the University of Sydney. His formal education laid a foundation of both the technical and artistic scope of photography. Concurrently working in the industry while completing his studies has resulted in a comprehensive body of knowledge and experience expanding his comprehensive abilities and offering to every brief.

Yianni has consistently worked with a number of publications including FHM, The Bulletin, OK, Gourmet Traveller, Rolling Stone, Cleo, Woman’s Day, TV Week and many more. In his career Yianni has captured inspiring subjects such as Slash, Delta Goodrem, Rebecca Gibney and a host of entertainers, actors and public figures. He has covered Sydney Fashion Week for the last four years in collaboration with Madison and Shop Till You Drop. His travel photography can be seen between the pages of Mediterranean literature and he is regularly commissioned for private assignments.

A decade on and an unwavering dedication to his work, Yianni is constantly inspired by the subject of his work, encapsulating a moment in time and the study and advancement of the craft of photography itself.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, Grateful, Fortunate

What is your life motto?  Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today. 

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started my career virtually as soon as I got accepted to do a bachelor of visual media arts at Sydney University. Alongside studying full time, I was lucky enough to be allowed to donate my time at a commercial portrait studio 2-3 times a week for about 3-4 hours a day assisting photographers. Eventually that led to my own test shoots that in time caught the studio director’s eye who offered me work as a staff photographer. This was within the first 5 months of starting my university course. After my 3 year degree and a great number of shifts at the portrait studio I had enough training and skills to freelance on all sorts of photography work and enough luck to get assignments that eventually landed me a job at ACP Magazines as a photographer, where I do what I love every day. That to me is success.

How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Once I discovered my passion for photography and enrolled at University, I devoted all my effort and any time I had free from my education to fuel my addiction to photography. I would need an expensive assortment of equipment and I was determined to work as many hours a week possible to get to the point of making a living in photography. It took a lot of hours of bartending, in a couple of venues concurrently to be able to get to the position where I was able to just work full time as a photographer. Having an end goal was the motivation and drive while I was putting in the long hours and hard work getting there.

What are the challenges in your line of work? A photographer’s job involves a lot of problem solving, understanding the vision of the client and delivering the image that suits their needs. Preparing for shoots where the lighting and weather conditions are unpredictable can be challenging. In other cases, I will be working with a team of up to 15 people including art directors, stylists, picture editors and stylists. It can be an added pressure on top of creating a great image while also making sure the subject is comfortable and you’re getting the best out of them.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Letting the celebrity status of my first celebrity job affect the way I was to light and shoot the image I had in my head. After that I would never let the status of my subject get in the way of a great shot.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Generally speaking, every piece of advice I have been given over the years helped me get to where I am. It’s all very valuable to me. I think of it like a puzzle where every piece makes up a bigger picture.

In your mind, is formal training essential? In photography I don’t think formal training is essential, it definitely helps and can teach you a lot of skills, but at the same time if you are motivated enough you can succeed on your own merit. As long as you have passion and dedication you can achieve anything.

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? A mentor is a big advantage to a new photographer. They give invaluable advice about the technical, artistic and commercial side of photography.

You could be lucky enough to land an assisting job working under a photography master, however, a mentor does not necessarily have to be one person. Influence could come from anyone if you are willing to keep an open attitude. Photography is an industry that does focus on mentor relationships so they are not hard to come by. To foster a successful mentor relationship, it begins with the trainee being reliable, easy to work with and enthusiastic to learn.

What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? Shoot, shoot, shoot, anything and everything, all the time. If you want it enough it will happen. 

What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? The love for capturing an image and the technicality of my medium keeps me going. It is an addiction to record the world around me that I can’t stop. If you really love what you do, there are no bad days just challenges.

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Definitely, but you better have the goods to back it up otherwise you might just get overlooked. Without preparation any opportunity is wasted.

For more of his brilliant work go to yianniphotography.com.au

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