Over the years in my teaching of photography, I have observed the course of my students and their development from their first steps to conscious creation, and have noted the formation of a gradual pattern which repeats itself in exactly the same fashion with the exception of very few divergences. This course can simply extend from ignorance to knowledge, but can also continue or be accompanied by a similar path from conjectural art to actual creation. In any case it applies to those who started photography out of joy and love and for this reason decided to make it a serious part of their lives.

The first period is characterised by total darkness, during which the certainties of the past are overturned, without the fertile questionings of the present having yet taken their place. In other words, when one stops thinking one knows what a good photograph is (which one was firmly convinced of up to that point) but one cannot yet recognise the quality of those which are presented to one as good. In this first period, photographic production is extremely difficult and correct self-appraisal almost impossible as the criteria have still not been constructed.

The second period coincides with the first attractive half opening of the curtain. Good photographs produced by others now begin to stand out, though are not yet fully recognised. Photographic production experiences a second start within a more disciplined framework. Criteria are formed one after the other. The results however, are anything from artistically inexistent to photographically insignificant. The photographer cannot come anywhere near producing in his own photographs the same quality he has begun to admire. And this is something he himself can now detect.

The third period is perhaps the happiest. When the photographer does not just begin to enjoy the photography produced by others (which he usually enjoys more and more and at a more profound level) but can also create photographs of his own which start to bring him some satisfaction. This development usually happens all of a sudden. As if the brain suddenly unjams itself. After this development, nothing is as (photographically) insignificant as before. The traps and dangers may be greater, but will move on a different level of photographic knowledge and awareness. Photographs may be mediocre, but will not be artistically unsubstantial.

The fourth period, which marks the start of the weaning off from the influence and consequent security provided by the teacher, is the longest, the one characterised by the most intense anxiety, but luckily also by the greatest satisfactions. This is the period without end of artistic creation, with its ups and downs, its enthusiasm and disappointments. The photographer now produces photos which have the assuredness of a well constructed image and the sperm of not impossible top quality, which when it appears, fills him with joy as well as burdening him with concern as he knows that quality is neither certain nor frequent.

From this point onwards development falls into two general, though necessarily schematised categories. Inclusion in one of the two categories depends more on the character, general education and moral statement of the photographer than on genius and talent, which we believe he probably has if he is moving on to this stage (whatever category he is eventually placed in) and whatever in any case his insecurity about whether he has achieved the latter to a great degree is related to the aforementioned parameters.

Those belonging to the first category continue, albeit self-flagellating and resentfully, to create photographs and produce work which slowly but steadily moves along a line which is either straight in terms of quality or insipid. They are characterised by the fact that they are able to check their egoism, and by the fact that despite the important role that photography plays in their lives, it has not blotted out their other values and different interests, and mainly by the fact that despite their creative anxieties and dead ends they continue to enjoy photography. Those belonging to the second category have allowed their egoism to run wild, have focussed their lives not on photography, but on photographical success, and have lost any joy experienced while practising photography, which is why they had taken it up in the first place.

The study of work produced by many well-known (Greek and other) photographers whom I believe belong to the latter category, convinces me that the pattern I have observed in my small circle of pupils applies to a much wider area where the tree of success and promotion hides the forest of creation. Countless times I have been surprised by the quality of the early work of a photographer whose current work is characterised by impressive shallowness and simplicity. Characteristics which cannot be compensated for by their usual exaggerated presentation, but which can promise easier access to the limelight.

The only advice I could give photographers in the first category, which I clearly prefer and appreciate, is that they cultivate their creative (and not their social) egoism as this will facilitate their stay on the wheel of production and development, and to those of the second category on the one hand to search for those reasons which cause the loss of the joy experienced in the creation and on the other hand to imagine that their work is seen and judged by the few, usually only by the very few, whose opinion should really count for them. In other words, by the great teachers of the past and the circle of their family and friends of the present.