The Subway Series: Spending Time with Mr. NYC Subway
Andreas Verrios enjoys shooting his creatives underground and I am exceptionally fond of the juxtapositions he creates within his art form. I am also delighted that Andreas is growing a successful business as a professional photographer. Read about his personal journey below and be inspired to follow yourdreams.
First of all- I feel so grateful to have met you. If it weren’t for my dear friend Kalin, our paths would not have crossed at the moment they did. I do not believe in accidents and being at your show inspired me to conduct three interviews titled “ Subway Series.” You are the first and your work was absolutely captivating.
Everyone that might know you as Mr.NYCSubway or has read your bio- sees that your love of photography comes from a place of passion. As a creative, I believe you needed to be more creatively connected to your commute to work- which you originally saw as a negative experience. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Is it true this was the impetus of you becoming a photographer in the subway setting?
I believe so. My sole objective when starting this pursuit was to enhance the quality of lifestyle for myself and those around me who commuted during the morning and evening rides to and from work. I wanted to make the environment a more enjoyable one by bringing positive energy to it with my friend/singer Rae Isla. Once we successfully had her perform to the commuters of New York and felt their love/smiles, I became hooked. From that point on, I realized that I didn't need to bring positive energy to the subway, but that it already existed there. It was in the architecture, the fashion, the performers, and most importantly in the millions of New Yorkers who travel on the subway everyday. The commuters of New York represent all walks of life, so you will see just about everything (especially because New Yorkers are super creative and artistic) from a woman knitting to a guy making music on his computer. And the beauty to the NYC Subway is that it allows for us to forget about our differences and unite with one purpose: arrive at our final destination; it's truly the great equalizer. It was at this point that I started to capture everything on my iPhone and eventually bought my first camera. So the intent was never to be a professional photographer, but life has a funny way of presenting your destiny when you least expect it.
I have now witnessed the creative freedom you take in your art form and see you as an artist- not only as a photographer- but as more of a visual artist.
Thank you. I consider myself to be an artist, too. In order to create these photos, so much has to be envisioned and then executed. It's not just a matter of pressing a button. The real art is the vision that is created and coming together with another creative soul to find a creative moment to capture; it's truly magic and surreal when it happens.
Let’s start at the beginning of your experience with photography. Where and when did you learn the art of photography? Did you begin with negatives in a dark room or is that too antiquated of me to even ask?
The funny part is that I knew nothing about photography when I started my Instagram account. But the beauty is that with a little natural ability, a lot of passion, and a ton of practice one can achieve anything in a quick amount of time. Countless hours have gone into this craft in the past year, but my rapid growth is real. The beauty with photography is that it will be a never ending process of learning, but I'm enjoying each step of the way, which I think is the most important thing: enjoy the process with no expectation for what is to come (that's how you know you're on the right path).
I know you find beauty everywhere you look as I can see the artistic expression within each frame you take. How many shots do you generally take until you find the one you truly want to share?
I go into each photo shoot with one objective: to capture one perfect image. Sometimes it happens in the first minute and other times in the last minute, but I never leave a photo shoot until I feel we caught that one magic moment. The truth is that we can take 200 photos and 199 can suck, but I'm content if we catch that one golden nugget!
As an artist myself, I can only imagine the thrill you feel when shooting underground. The environment I would think is unpredictable yet that could be why you choose your locations. Can you give the audience a glimpse of your thought process when deciding where/who to shoot?
So I always select my subjects based on his/her account and content. The main thing I look for is passion in their work along with a good esthetic/skill set. As long as I feel a creative flow in their work, I'm down to shoot on the subway. When it comes to the location, it's a matter of matching his/her look with a station or two. It really is more of intuitive decision at the end of the day. But, of course, I look at their profile then the map of the subway and think about all the stations that I have been to in order to make my final decision. But again, my gut ends up telling me which location to select.
You appear to enjoy shooting dancers. Is it because of the juxtaposition of the chaos of the subway station verses the dancer’s complete control of their bodies? Something else?
I love working with dancers because of their ability to dance and get lost in their art and self-expression. Once I communicate my vision and they start to dance, from there it becomes a creative flow, which is much easier to find than with say a model who is doing still positions. Dancing allows for one to get out of his/her mind and go to another space and the action shots always make for an interesting visual. It's not to say the same creative flow cannot be found with models or other types of talents, but the dancers definitely create a unique energy with their artistic movements. Again, it's all about the creativity and finding that energy within each of my subjects. We all have creativity within us - it's what makes humans unique from all other species - it's just a matter of extracting it from each other!
What has been your favorite shoot to date and what made it so special to you?
This is a very difficult question to answer. The truth is that there has not been one photo shoot that was my favorite. Some have definitely been better than others. The main thing is when we find that creative flow at some point during the shoot and capture an image that we feel is representative of that surreal energy we created! It's all about finding that creative moment which always feels equally amazing in each shoot!!
Do you think there will be a day when all you do is photography for a living? I understand that no one gets paid on your shoots yet it seems like anyone would find it an honor to be shot by you.
I've always wanted to find a passion. I finally found it within photography of the NYC Subway. Now, the dream is to make money doing what I love but I'm not going to put pressure on that to happen through photography. I'm going to let the Universe continue to guide me and if that day comes through photography or something else, I will have truly lived a perfect life.
What is something you can share with me about your work that you have never told another journalist before?
I have moments where I doubt myself and ability to create. But the beauty to passion is that it doesn't allow for those thoughts to remain. My obsession and love for photography is so strong that nothing scares me within this world. Being a human means you will feel vulnerable at times no matter who you are as a person, but passion keeps you moving ahead to the good moments which hold a much more profound memory and mindset majority of the time.
Is there someone who you would love to shoot but haven’t had the opportunity to yet?
Honestly, no. I love everyone that I shoot with as they are all creative souls. I'm lucky because at this point in my career, majority of those that I reach out to are willing to create with me. The ones that deny or ignore my requests, I never feel upset and let down as I know it's just not meant to be.
What advice can you give other artists that you wish had been given to you early on in your career?
Find that subject or environment that makes you feel a creative flow and passion. It's those emotions and feelings that will keep you coming back for more and more. At the end of the day, if you want to be your best at something, you need to practice, practice, and practice. But the only way to keep at it and never give up, is to love it to the point that your obsessed. It's that insanity that will be keep you going and it's a good type of insanity.
What is next for you? Any upcoming shows or collaborations?
I am heading to Miami for the week to present my work at an exhibit at the SLS Hotel. I will then have two exhibits in August. More details to come on when and where! I have also decided to start selling my prints in limited editions of 10 per photo and size. Each photo will be signed and numbered within a custom frame.
I know there are only great things in Mr. NYC Subway's future as he has the discipline, open mindedness and passion that will truly take him as far as he will allow his creativity to go.
What is next for you? Any upcoming shows or collaborations?