Constantine Manos was born in 1934 in South Carolina to Greek immigrant parents. He went on to attend the University of South Carolina, from which he graduated in 1955.His photographic career began in his school camera club at the age of thirteen, and at age nineteen he was hired as the official photographer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Joining Magnum Photos in 1963, he then became a full Member in 1965. It is very impressive of Manos’ wide-ranging subjects – from desegregation in the American South to life in Greece and his later work throughout America which he shot in color. One thing has remained constant throughout his career, it’s been Costa (A smaller greek edition of his name) and his Leica rangefinder.
Manos traveled to Greece for the first time in 1961 as a young photographer eager to explore the culture he knew only through his parents′ stories about life in the village (chorio).
While living in Greece for three years, Constantine Manos traveled the countryside seeking to capture in photographs the character and beauty of a way of life virtually unchanged for centuries. These pictures record his wanderings in places where the only sound might be the distant tinkling of sheep bells, where hospitality for the stranger is a sacred tradition, and where time has stood still against a backdrop of rural simplicity and serenity.
His book, first published in 1972, has become a sought-after classic and won awards in Arles, France and Leipzig, Germany.
And then after the black and white Greek reality of 60's here comes the color!! A magnificent color! An American color of 90's
In "American Color", Constantine Manos has created a set of fascinating images that engage both the eye and mind in repeated viewings and contemplation. Photographing mostly in exotic locales and at public events within the United States, such as Venice Beach and Atlantic City, Bike Week at Daytona Beach and at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Manos presents a kaleidoscopic view of American culture. Although the pictures were made in the United States, they do not pretend to constitute a general or definitive statement about the country or its people. They are instead specific moments which cannot be categorized and which exist for their own sake.
Manos himself describe best his work in "American color" preface. "The subject of American Color is photographs, made in the United States but not meant to comprise a general or definitive statement about the country or its people. These images are a collection of specific moments picked from a narrow spectrum of public places and events. Presented without the constraints of captions, these photographs have a life of their own and invite a personal response from the viewer. My favorite pictures have always been complex ones which ask questions and pose problems, but leave the answers and solutions to the viewer."
"These are images with a long and evolving life, in which the photograph may transcend the subject and become the subject. Central to the strength of these images is photography's most precious and unique quality, believability: that the moment preserved on a piece of paper is true and unaltered, that it really happened and will never happen again."
"In the search for photographs I have come to realize that the best pictures are surprises, images I subconsciously seek but do not recognize until they suddenly appear. These are thrilling moments in a type of photography which can be frustrating and unpredictable, with the pictures often spoiled by something so minor as a wayward cloud over the sun or the momentary glance of a subject at the camera. In approaching people, I prefer to be the observer rather than the observed and value the human presence as the most important element in my pictures."
"The flow of people in a setting, their changing relationships to each other and their environment, and their constantly changing expressions and movements — all combine to create dynamic situations which provide the photographer with limitless choices of when to push the button. By choosing a precise intersection between subject and time, he may transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and the real into the surreal."
Closing this article again with his words :"I think that in some photographs the picture is more important than the subject- the subject of the picture is the photograph"
All photos © Constantine Manos