Having grown up in the scenic land of Cyprus with both a grandfather and uncle working as painters and sculptors, Andreas Poupoutsis was always fascinated with the arts and often thought of pursuing it as a career. After graduating from college in the UK and realizing that business was not the right path for him, Poupoutsis left for New York and took up the One Year Photography Conservatory at New York Film Academy. From there Poupoutsis decided to continue his studies by pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Photography at New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.
He’s currently back in New York City where he works as a photographer, having worked for magician David Blaine, Esquire Magazine, and several other projects. Recently, we had the chance to catch up with the MFA grad to gather his thoughts on the program and see what’s he’s been working on since.
How did you fall into photography? Was it something you had always wanted to do?
When I was studying graphic design, I took photography classes and I became obsessed with the camera.
My girlfriend, who I met in Florence, was really into photography. She helped me realize that I was in love with the same art form, and that I wanted to be a photographer for the rest of my life.
I would always enjoy creating, and realized that photography allowed me to create, express myself, and to communicate with people.
After I graduated, I decided to move to New York and study photography. That’s where everything began really. I was finally doing what I love and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue my studies and move to Los Angeles to get my Master of Fine Arts in Photography.
What made you decide to come to New York Film Academy?
I am a really hands-on kind of a guy and New York Film Academy was offering all that I was asking for. The course is built to help you get to the professional level of the real industry. Yes, it is really intensive and hands-on but that’s how this profession is in real life—therefore everything that I was taught came in handy. The instructors that work at New York Film Academy are all successful working photographers in the field of photography and they are always ready and willing to help you with anything that you ask. Always a really good source of knowledge and experience.
What is your most memorable moment at NYFA?
One of the most memorable moments I had as a student at NYFA was when Ivan Shaw, the Photography Director of Vogue came in to NYFA to review some portfolios of students. Getting your portfolio reviewed by one of the most influential photographers in the industry is an amazing opportunity; and you also get to see how these top professionals in the industry view your work.
One of the best skills I have learned at NYFA is knowing how to handle a working studio on my own—from the equipment to the service you provide for your clients.
How did you find your overall experience?
My experience at New York Film Academy was great. It always felt like a family away from home. You spend so many hours in class, labs and studios with instructors and TA’s that you never feel alone or without help, which I think is an important factor in your academic years. There is always someone around to help.
Also, the equipment that New York Film Academy provides is amazing. They have everything that you need—top of the line equipment that allows you to create your art.
Since completing your program with NYFA, what are some of the projects you’ve worked on?
Since graduating from NYFA I have done exhibitions, published my work in books with other artists, showcased my work in Times Square as part of a collaborative group show, assisted photographers for well known editorial shoots and also had my own cover for Esquire Magazine.
My most proud and memorable moment in my career so far has been working for David Blaine as his personal and world tour photographer.
Traveling the world and getting to do what you love as part of your job is a photographer’s dream and I have achieved that dream. The places that you get to see, different cultures and the amazing people you meet is really a once in a lifetime opportunity.
photos by Andreas Poupoutsis
Can you tell us a bit about the work you did with David Blaine?
The whole experience with David Blaine was very exciting. To be able to see another artist practice his art form 24/7 and realize that everything he does is actually real was amazing. From catching bullets with his mouth to getting shot from a foot away—even being underwater for 13 minutes—is mind blowing.
Working with David Blaine was also the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. Traveling with equipment and a big crew around the world can be really challenging. You are always on the go, crazy rehearsal hours and, as a photographer, you need to be alert at all times in order to get that perfect shot. It’s a non-stop working experience but worth every second of it.
You were also featured in American Photography 28. What does that mean to you as a photographer?
It’s a leading photography book that comes out once a year and includes work by the top photographers in the industry. To be able to see my work included in the same book with Sebastiao Salgado, for example, was a very exciting moment for me.
Would you say NYFA was helpful in terms of the success you’ve had in the professional world of photography?
New York Film Academy has taught me how to be professional photographer—skills that I can use and practice in the real world. From the very early stages of coming up with an idea or a theme for a shoot to the very last details of budgeting and how to market yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 1 year? 5 years?
In one year from now I believe I will still be in New York. New York is a city that you can achieve whatever you want to as long as you hustle and work hard. So that is my plan for the next year: to work on exciting new projects. I feel like I still have a lot to do here before I decide to move back to Europe.
In 5 years I see myself working somewhere in Europe—London or Paris. I would love to have my own magazine or even work as a creative director for a magazine. Having my own photography studio is also a future plan. But, once again, you never know where life will take you.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested to enter the industry, specifically in New York?
The industry in New York can be really hard and discouraging at the beginning. There is so much competition in this city that you have to be on top of your game all the time. My advice would be to never stop trying and to set goals. It’s not about how fast you can reach those goals but more about never losing track of those goals. Some advice I would give to beginners is to understand the value of networking. It is really important. Always stay humble, work hard and you will succeed.