Aris Katsigiannis is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Athens. He specialises in travel photography and film production, as well as corporate film production. He has drawn a lot of attention as of late, after his video "Dreams can’t be quarantined" went viral in April 2020, while Greece was under lockdown; it featured stunning images from various parts of the country and carried a message of hope.
Katsigiannis loves exploring new countries, landscapes and people, and immortalising his experiences and the beauty he sees in the world, always with a knack for details. He uses his rich experiences from travelling in his work to create fascinating stories with his pictures and films, and has collaborated with many large international and Greek companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Switzerland Tourism, Huawei, Swiss airlines, BMW, Fix Hellas, Cosmote.
Aris Katsigiannis spoke with Greek News Agenda* about his project "Dreams can’t be quarantined", which showcases the beauty of multiple regions of Greece but also features positive messages sent by people from many countries around the world (from Italy, Chile and Canada to Australia, Morocco and India), making that point that we are all in this together and must hold on to our dreams.
In early April 2020, you posted on your YouTube channel a video titled "Dreams can’t be quarantined", which quickly went viral. What inspired you to create it?
The idea for this video just came to me in a flash. When I heard about the lockdown measures I thought to myself "Now what? What to do with oneself, locked inside for days on end?"
"What about using these days to create something beautiful to send out a positive and inspiring message? What about making something good out of a bad situation?"Then my mind went to the footage I have from all these parts of Greece. I have made videos for various places, but never something telling a story through the eyes of my country. So I thought this was an opportunity to motivate people around the world and put to good use all that beautiful material I had in stock.
Greece, as well as the rest of the planet, is being tested by the pandemic; yet your video clearly sends a message of optimism. Where do you draw this strength from?
It is my belief that we should always be optimistic. A situation may seem awful and unbearable, but that doesn't mean it will have a negative outcome. Sometimes a very sad event can lead up to the best thing that has ever happened to us. It all depends on how we handle this situation. I think we can always get something positive out of every negative experience. That was one of the reasons I started the project "Dreams Can't Be Quarantined". The power of positive thinking comes from within. We all have it, we just need to unleash it. This is often difficult, but we must never give up and we must never let go of our dreams.
In a four-minute video, you managed to reveal the beauty of many different parts of Greece. How hard was it to achieve that?
First of all, I would like to note here that the footage used in this video have been recorded by me and my creative team over several years, either for work-related purposes or while on vacation. Our passion is to capture the moment and share it with people who couldn't be there. This video features footage shot in many parts of Greece: Athens, Halkidiki, Mani, Amorgos, Milos, Ios, Crete, Lefkada, Arachova, Vasilitsa, Paros, Meteora, Chrysi, Mykonos, Zakynthos, Pertouli, Samos, Corinthia, Zagorochoria, Hydra, Corfu, Kyparissia,Papingo, Syros, Spinalonga, Kalamata, Naxos, Vonitsa and Thessaloniki. This video was not easy to make. It took many hours of intensive editing: a total of 21 days from morning until late at night. For the first week I had select the footage I could use out of 16,000 files. Then, it took another 14 days to do the editing and collect the video messages of people from around the world, which you can see at the end of the video. But it was all worth it. I think it is very important to showcase as many regions of Greece as possible. Our country is an amazing place blessed with natural beauty of an incredible variety, and all these stunning landscapes are worth advertising.
Do you think that Greece will be chosen as a holiday destination this year?
I think that Greece will be a destination of choice because we are among the countries with the best response to the virus. We have taken effective and swift measures and this will make a difference. Greece also has so much to offer. Mountains, the sea, beautiful and authentic people, great food. What more can a traveller ask for?
What are professional plans for the future?
My plans vary. I have begun work on various projects for international clients. At the same time, I am preparing two videos from my trips in the Philippines and the Faroe Islands. My dream and purpose in life is to travel to as many countries as time allows. I want to get to know new places and cultures, new people and new landscapes. I’ve been always inspired by the notion of the outlandish. I want to be able to share the feelings I get when I travel with as many people as possible. Many people may not be able to travel. Taking them to a new place through images gives a special meaning to my life. I’m looking forward to the time when we can once more travel safely so that we can get back to pursuing our dreams.
*Interview by Marianna Varvarrigou. Translation by Nefeli Mosaidi. (All photos ©Aris Katsigiannis)
Read also via Greek News Agenda: Photography: W. Mark Wilman on "Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades"; Greece's UNESCO Global Geoparks; “111 Places in Athens That You Shouldn't Miss”: The stories that make up a city