I am Alexandra Avlonitis, Brooklyn-born and living in Manhattan my entire adult life. I pursued my interest in art starting in my high school years – I studied drawing at the Art Students League and elsewhere – but detoured off that path when I was obliged to select a career choice. I succumbed to the pressures of pursuing a professional degree and went to law school instead. Not surprisingly, it turned out not to be the right choice, and after several years I gave it up. I was not to resume my artistic studies until years later, after raising a family. When I did return it was to the realm of painting and drawing; photography never entered my mind.
About six years ago when I was experiencing an artistic block, a friend told me about the International Center of Photography and the classes she was taking there. Snapping photos on my cell phone had been a casual pastime but I thought maybe the time was right to learn how to take a proper photo. So I started classes at ICP, got completely absorbed in the subject, and put away the easel and paints for good.
Street Photography. As a native New Yorker, it was a natural fit. I had always been captivated by the hum and buzz of the street; the energy of unremitting commerce; the mash-up of peoples and cultures. With a camera in place of a paint brush, I could capture the endlessly engaging drama unfolding in the public sphere.
The streets of New York City. I am fortunate to live in a vibrant, diverse and frenetic city that rewards the dedicated street photographer with a wealth of material. From the concentrated commercial center of midtown Manhattan to Chinatown and the Coney Island boardwalk, the spectacle of quotidian city life unfolds. As a committed flâneur, I immerse myself in the theatre of the street and look to capture moments largely unseen.
While the city is my everyday beat, I am passionate about foreign travel and turning my camera on other cultures. Among my most memorable and productive trips was a three-week visit to northern India in early 2020. In this complex and visually arresting country, I was dazzled by the immense beauty of the people and monuments and the unparalleled colors and textures. It is a place I long to return to.
Whenever I can. To step out onto the streets is to engage. Having no particular expectations is key. Being prepared is critical. On the rare occasion that I have been wandering about without my camera and missed a great shot, the ache of disappointment lingers.
The photographer Brassaï once said: “Photography has one leg in painting and one leg in life but the two things must be combined.”
With this lofty notion as my guide, I seek to meld the aesthetics of fine art with the real world around me, while searching for the beauty, humor and pathos in the human experience.