Portfolio: Eliza Tamo

In her works photographer from Greece Eliza Tamo investigates how people are attached to their national roots and documents the life of the family, creating unified images out of her photographs.
Eliza Tamo Age 36

Photographer from Greece, lives in London. Has a degree from the London College of Communication. Exhibited her works in Greece, Great Britain, Sweden, and Singapore. Presented her works as part of Portrait of Britain — a nationwide exhibition organized by the British Journal of Photography.

— My story with photography started by chance when I decided to mess around with my dad’s camera in my early twenties. It was a 70s Nikon which is still my main camera. I had just dropped out of the dance college in Athens due to a recurring trauma and I started using photography as an alternative to keeping a diary.

It all kicked off when I was studying fashion in Milan and I soon realized that I was more interested in walking around the city aimlessly throughout the night taking photographs. It was all very random. My tutor when seeing my work suggested to me that London might be the place for me as it was quite open to ‘experimental’ work.

My projects so far have always had an autobiographical element. Thus they are linked very often to the region and to the history of Greece. I am looking into the residues of the past in our present. I’m interested in the idea of continuity. I usually over-analyze things and then this process somehow visually translates into images. Many times the end result is quiet, even banal. My approach is similar to that of a street photographer. I don’t like having a predetermined plan, I just walk a lot and follow chance. At the same time, I have never stopped documenting my own family and life and the final works are usually a mix of the two worlds.

I would photograph anything that I find relevant. The question for me is to find the right way to do it. There have been people I would have liked to photograph but I didn’t have the right approach and missed the opportunity. I’m still working on this aspect. I don’t have a tangible goal or plan, other than to keep creating work. It’s a fluid process and the best I can hope for is to have by the end a coherent body of work.

I am looking into the residues of the past in our present. I’m interested in the idea of continuity.

I am currently working on two different projects. One is an ongoing project since 2011 called the State of Things. It relates to the history of the Anatolian Greeks and in particular to the genocide of the Greeks of the Black Sea in the beginning of the 20th century. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents came from this region. During the persecutions by the Turkish nationalists they left Trabzon in the 1920s and settled in Novorossiysk and in Moscow. Eventually, they had to migrate to Greece to flee Stalin’s persecutions of minorities in the 1930s. The work is a mix of family and documentary photography.

The second one is a documentary project that looks into the geography and landscape of Greece in relation to its history, culture and contemporary reality. Living abroad for the last 14 years I’m interested in the attachment one has to their national roots. I see it as a blend of our inner and outer world where there’s a constant dialogue between the individual and the collective memory.

I’m interested in the attachment one has to their national roots.

What makes me follow a person on the street when I do photography? It can be anything that makes me want to do a double take if that makes sense. Usually, it’s something that in some way is, or feels, out of the norm. Normally it’s people who I would be interested in discovering their personal story. It can also be something very trivial — the poetics of simplicity.

I am inspired by the everyday, poetry, seeing my daughter growing up, the light of the Aegean, the past.

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