Andreas Tsonidis: Returning Home
The sticky wicket of photographing family is to find a place of observation without judgement and/or to be able to observe while participating in the action. Photographer Andreas Tsonidis has one more layer beyond family member and photographer; he is also a psychotherapist adding to the rich stew of possible familial interpretations. But he somehow manages to beautifully document the people in his life, as a way of rooting himself over time to a family that comes to him by marriage. The documentation of light and time and person creates a new kind of family album, one which is more complex and thoughtful, one that asks questions and keeps secrets.
Andreas Tsonidis is a family psychotherapist and photographer who lives and works in Thessaloniki, Greece. He lectures on contemporary photography and has an active interest in the therapeutic use of the photographic medium. His photographic work has largely been informed by his psychology practice, and especially by issues of identity and connectedness that he likes to explore through portraiture.
In this personal documentary I have been photographing my wife’s family of origin, and especially her parents who live in a provincial town in Northern Greece. Although a family therapist myself, I have often found it difficult to fully engage with the familial terrain. The family for me has always felt like a battlefield, a site of struggle between individuality and interconnectedness, each a precondition and context for the other. Not surprisingly, then, this project presented me with a great challenge but also opened up an avenue to self-reflexivity.
Very often, the moments that I wanted to capture were instances of individuality, set against the backdrop of intimate relationships and strong emotional bonds. The individual characters in this photographic series are all protagonists in a family drama staged in the unique atmosphere the family’s home evokes. For me, the photographer, husband and son-in-law, the camera served as a distance regulator and a reflexive tool; it allowed me to approach this family as a ‘participant observer,’ providing me with a position from which to observe myself observing others, while simultaneously searching for a home. These pictures then intend to create a version of family life, but also speak of my desire to understand and connect with a world that is not my own, yet one that I feel in many ways deeply attached to.
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