In Your Eyes – Interview with Joseph Priniotakis – Alaska 2023
23rd August 2023
Before we get started, we should mention that, although his photos speak for themselves, you will probably be surprised to learn that Joseph is only 13 years old! As well as being the most talented young bird photographer we have met so far, he is also by some way the youngest we had on tour. Under the watchful eye of his dad, Manolis, Joseph impressed us with his maturity and skills on our recent Wild Alaska tour. We hope you enjoy his images.
Tell us a little more about your photography journey. How long have you been taking photos?
I have been taking photos for about four years now. I was inspired by watching birds in the yard. I discovered there were so many types. I didn’t even know that ducks were birds! And then I saw my grandfather’s photos of red-tailed hawks, catbirds, and cottontail rabbits. He lent me a camera and I was off. I would find any bird or mammal and take a photo of it.
What are you passionate about besides photography? What do you do in your free time?
I play guitar. I also like hanging out with my cat, Nick.
What drew you to visit Alaska?
The constant buzz of birders on the Internet about Alaska and their photos of King Eiders, Snowy Owls, Musk Ox, and other Arctic wildlife. Another big reason I wanted to visit Alaska was because of how different it was from my home in Washington DC.
What camera gear did you use on your tour?
I figured most of the tour’s wildlife would be in a fairly close proximity, but just in case of a long-distance critter, I packed my 200-600mm F6.3 along with my Sony A7III.
What were your first impressions of Alaska for photography?
Brilliant. Even flying into Anchorage, I could see how very easy it would be to incorporate the land’s stunning surroundings into each and every photograph. There were endless opportunities to photograph due to the 24-hour daylight above the Arctic Circle.
What surprised you about your trip there?
I was really surprised about how much each day rose above my expectations. I thought most birds would be tough to find and they only breed on “that specific ridge” or “in this undisclosed location” but pretty much everything we went looking for we found at a photographic distance. Also, the gas prices were insane!
What were your frustrations on your trip?
An annoying part of the trip was how the whole internet crashed in Barrow and the rest of the North Slope owing to the destruction of an undersea cable off Prudhoe Bay. Everything was out, even the credit card machines, and it was days before I could call home. This is just one example of why you should prepare for the unexpected when visiting such a remote place.
Of all the birds you have photographed, do you have a favorite destination you prefer to photograph?
Nome and Utqiagvík (Barrow) were my favorite destinations. I have also been to the Jamaican Blue Mountains and enjoyed trying to track down endemic Jamaican birds.
Aside from the photography, what other aspects of the tour did you enjoy?
I enjoyed just experiencing the beauty of Alaska. I loved learning about the cultures and meeting the very friendly people. The desk clerk of the hotel in Utqiagvik was especially friendly.
What have you learned from your tour of Alaska?
I learned to be prepared for the unexpected!
Do you have any advice for photographers visiting Alaska?
A piece of advice I would give to a photographer visiting Alaska is to follow your guide and you will get much better photos. Also, even if you have already some good photos of one particular bird or mammal, never stop photographing it every time you see it. Bring lots of memory cards and lots of spare batteries. Be flexible and prepared for the unexpected.
Are there any images that are particularly special to you?
Yes, I have included them.
Why did you enjoy these images so much?
The feelings they evoke.
Would you return to Alaska for photography?
Yes. I would love to go to St. Paul and Gambell or any of the Aleutian Islands to photograph sea birds and Arctic Foxes.