T+L's Photo Contest Finalists: Dean Costopoulos
Dean Costopoulos, an Amtrak police officer in Chicago, Illinois, discovered his passion for photography during the start of his law enforcement career when he was tasked with taking crime scene photos.
“I had to be able to tell a story with pictures and make sure the photo clearly defined its content to the viewer,” says Costpoulos. “[Now,] when I decide today is a good day to grab my camera, I go for whatever the day brings me. If it’s planned and my guess on the weather hits its mark, I head to the shore of Lake Michigan and hope for a golden or blue hour photo.”
His isolated shot of a kayaker on the open water impressed our judges and was enough to get him to the next round. Take a look at some his favorite shots below, and don't forget to vote for your favorite of our finalists.
T+L: Tell us a little about yourself as a photographer
Dean Costopoulos: [Photography] is not my bread-winning profession. Being in law enforcement keeps me from furthering this hobby into a part-time job or possibly an avenue as I near retirement. It was during the start of my law enforcement career where I took a liking to photography since part of my duties included crime scene photography. I had to be able to tell a story with pictures and make sure the photo clearly defined its content to the viewer. All said and done, I consider myself, and my style as a freelance photographer, with a likeness for landscapes, street, macro, and sport.
T+L: How would describe your style of photography?
DC: When I decide today is a good day to grab my camera, I go for whatever the day brings me. If it's planned and my guess on the weather hits its mark, I head to the shore of Lake Michigan and hope for a golden or blue hour photo. Then, as I am walking back home, the street sense of things begin… people on their phones or waiting for a taxi/Uber, out of towners looking at street signs, people on their break, pets, buildings, etc. If it’s a weekend, I hope to catch a friend at a local bike race, my friend’s kids at a sporting event, or just go over to my old neighborhood and catch a random ball game. And when winter hits in Chicago, indoor photography takes over with macro. So many things in life to get up close with, the photo ops are endless. All of this takes some time but each photo is a learning opportunity, not just about catching the moment but about me as well.
T+L: What do you look for when looking for a great shot?
DC: When I look for “that shot,” I truly do not search for it. I wait for it to happen or cross my path and hope I catch it in that moment. When I see that photo op, a few of things go through my head: How does this make me feel right now? How will it make me feel when I look at this photo again, and what can others gather from viewing from it? Some may say this may not be the way to photograph sports. I beg to differ. Sure, I might miss that "ball on bat" bunt capture, but to catch the facial expressions of the players in the dugout or a proud parent on the sidelines tips the scales as far as I am concerned. I have included a photo that sort of explains this.
T+L: What do you think makes a great travel photographer?
DC: When traveling...your photos remind you of an adventure and [make others want to go] there. That is what makes a travel photographer. As the photographer, if someone views your photo and says, “That’s where I want to be!” our job is done. My most recent trip took me to Croatia and locations where they film "Game of Thrones." When I posted some of my photos on social media, people’s reactions were just that way. They thought "GOT" was mostly a made-up set. When they saw the real thing, they wanted to visit. All in all, as in the case of travel and every other photograph I take, that simple and sincere “thank you for sharing” is all I need to keep taking photographs.
T+L: Do you have a favorite photo or photographer that has influenced your work?
DC: Considering myself a freelance photographer, I am influenced by several photographers. To name a few, Jeff Cable, Joel Grimes, and Matt Hernandez are those I look at for sports-related photos. Landscape photographer Michael Melford, and Eileen Rafferty for her black and white photos and tutorials to look for composition and not just color. Lastly, macro photographers Don Komarechka and Chris Connolly bring you up close [and] personal at a different level.
I was taking a break near a watering bath in Phoenix, AZ’s zoo. Happened to catch this sparrow getting out of the heat.
When people think of "Game of Thrones," they do not think it’s real. Yes, it’s real and it’s here.
Carry the Cup
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Chicago Blackhawks' opening (banner) game following their Stanley Cup victory and caught this from my seat.
When you’re walking through town – whichever it may be, do not take your steps for granted. Others are not so fortunate.
Not sure how to describe this. Looking down off a walking path to see the color of this crystal-clear water with the underlying rocks and a kayak. Colors speak for themselves.
Was taking a fall stroll through the Morton Arboretum and saw this couple looking over the pond. I wish I could have shared this photo with them.
While looking at this mountain, I wondered if the angle or ridge lines have anything to do with the Earth’s plates shifting.
Pink Sea Salt
When you think of Himalayan pink sea salt, you would think it was all pink. Not true.
The nightlife along the shoreline of Sibenik, Croatia.