As we mentioned several times in the past, Platon is one of our favorite portrait photographers and in his long career, he has been responsible for some of the most iconic political images of the past few decades. Netflix, as part of its series called “Abstract: The Art of Design” which focuses on different leading artists, posted the special long-form episode on Platon to YouTube earlier this year and it is a fantastic chance to watch what makes a true photographic artist tick.
We don’t want to spoil the episode too much for you (it is really worth the 45 or so min of watch time) but Platon talks about where he came from (he was born in Greece), his life as an immigrant, the deep impact his father, the architect and his mother, the art historian had on his life. Platon also discusses how being dyslectic actually impacted the way he sees the world and in a way made him the type of photographer he is and helped him set his unique style.
Over the years Platon photographed, in almost exactly the same settings in his NY studio many of the world’s most powerful leaders including Bill Clinton, George Bush (both senior and Junior), Putin, Gadaffi, Hugo Chávez and many other names. In this episode, you can watch how Platon goes about doing these very unique bigger-than-life shoots with Colin Powell (hint, he uses a manual film camera, one light with an umbrella, and a very simple black or white background at extreme close up).
Platon is much more than a political photographer though. While you might be familiar with some of his iconic images of presidents, prime ministers, and other world leaders he also takes a lot of time to shoot projects of more personal nature like those of the families of military personal in the U.S., local people in his native Greece homeland, as well as deep humanitarian projects like war victims in Burma, female sexual abuse in Congo or immigrant families in the U.S. all as part of what he calls “The people’s portfolio“.
We have posted several interviews with Platon over the years. The first has been a part of the Reserve Channel (which sadly no longer publishes on YouTube) talk with photographer Mark Seliger who sat down with actor (and serious hobbyist photographer) Dylan McDermott and Platon (see here). We also published a New-Yorker video which also provided a quick glimpse of Platon’s work back in 2014 (see here).
As always, you can watch more videos of interesting photographers in our photographer section here on LensVid.