Something So Familiar

Nov 6, 2013
Photographer Spotlight

By Karrisa Olsen

Paul Shiakallis grew up in Johannesburg, yet when he traveled to the US, he felt like he was home. This is when he realized how much American television and movies have influenced his lifestyle. In his series, “Something So Familiar”, Paul explores his fascination with suburbia and gives ordinary scenes a cinematic touch with his use of night photography and distraction:

“I have always said the best portraits are the ones taken without a camera. If I made the image look like the camera was not present, then I was successful.”

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In the photographs, Paul’s subjects seem frozen–as if you just pressed the “pause” button on a life remote. He also makes it easy to imagine the humming sound of the TV inside of the homes contrasting with the natural silence blanketing the streets outside. While spending time in New York, he began shooting Hispanic shop owners, but progressed to meeting random people and making connections through a friend, which lead him to enter personal environments.

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Walking the streets at night and traveling on subways, photographing the territory of strangers and getting questioned about why he was outside of someone’s home with his camera was all relied on instinct. The work has not yet been published, but Paul looks at it as a personal journey.

“You don’t always need a plan and a trailer load of equipment to shoot beautiful images. Usually what you need is already there, you just have to be able to see it and use it.”

To view more work from Paul Shiakallis, visit his website.