On first meeting Nektarious (Nerris) Markogiannis the stereotypical image of a postgraduate that I had formed, despite having never met one in my past two years at St Andrews, was officially dispelled. Nerris is not the tired academic that I had envisioned, but an extremely interesting character with an even more fascinating life. In fact Nerris’ life is one that I envy, for amongst the varied and interesting different careers he has embarked upon including that of an investment banker in London, he is currently a photographer for the United Nations (UN).
Taking unpaid leave to study for his second postgraduate degree, an MLitt in Photography, Nerris finds the time to describe his work and life to an undergraduate green-eyed with jealousy. After leaving investment banking, Nerris worked for two different NGOs in first Kosovo, then Serbia and Kosovo, and then finally Iraq. In carrying out his duties for the various NGOs he worked for Nerris often worked in conjunction with the UN. He modestly claims to have been ‘in the right place at the right time’ and began working for UN missions. His photographic skills were first put to good use when the UN photographer who was meant to accompany him on a mission was unable to obtain a visa to enter the country in question. Nerris, who possessed the skills and degree to do the job, applied and has continued to do as a job what he has enjoyed as a hobby for years.
Sent on missions with the UN to record the important handshakes that we see pictured in the news everyday, Nerris also snatches time to photograph what he himself finds interesting in the far-flung places he finds himself in. Nerris tries not to caption his photos as he is not particularly interested in the story per se. He does not seek to lead the viewer or underline the importance – if any – of the
photograph. He is purely interested in good photography and prefers that the viewer somehow connects with the photograph, even if that connection is irrelevant/ not significant to the moment captured.
Here we see a soldier in Darfur (not that we would know this due to his flip-flop shod feet). Somehow the viewer is aware that this man, with his slightly inclined head, is not responsible for the death of the camel that lies at his feet. The eye of the beholder is directed back along to the horizon. Here is the menacing silhouette of a bull, that we, in some ludicrous way, see as the camel’s killer and superior to the vulnerable, bent-headed, barely shod young man. We feel that we too are in the right place at the right time to catch the bull heading off into the sunset like as in an old-fashioned film.
This image, if it were not for the belt of ammunition, could not be recognised as a gun. Without the bullets it could be simply an unidentifiable piece of metal. The line of the weapon extends across the piece and morphs into the organic. The curve of the arm mirrors that of the metal piece it holds. It is delicately posed, almost feminine.
Photography – Nektarious (Nerris) Markogiannis