WORLD: MY PORTFOLIO - Angelo Avlonitis

Can you imagine your boss offering to double your salary so you can take a sideways step into a new career? This was the unusual pre-dicament in which the South African photographer Angelo Avlonitis found himself.

Avlonitis originally studied for four years to be an art director, starting his career at McCann-Erickson and Central in South Africa. It was when he began to use his own photographs for ads that his boss made him an offer he couldn't refuse. After two-and-a- half years, Avlonitis went freelance, moving to London in 1998 after getting to know the city on various shoots.

"The Gillette Christmas campaign was a South African campaign through McCann. I had a sketch next to me and I was interpreting it by using an eye-dropper to get the liquid effect. It was totally created by photography with no digital manipulation.

"I shot the Stanley campaign for Saatchi & Saatchi for the creative director Digby Atkinson. He wanted a different feel from the photography so he didn't want it to be shot from the front. The end result was four billboards with not too much copy, and the straightforward photography was in keeping with the campaign.

"I also photographed an anti-smoking campaign, but this was my personal work and wasn't commissioned. It wasn't a hard sell with people dying of lung cancer. Younger people are more likely to relate to the dangers of smoking by seeing a softer image such as toy soldiers wearing gas masks, a cigarette on a stretcher and a cannon made from a burning cigarette."

Ironically, one of Avlonitis' biggest UK campaigns shot in London was for a cigarette brand: "I did a campaign for Grey for John Player cigarettes. It was a big project involving a six-day shoot focusing on Tower Bridge opening and closing.

"Posters such as Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut used such clever concepts and you just don't see that anymore. The standard of work has dropped, particularly in print media, and clients are buying less. Those really great press campaigns you used to see in the late 80s and early 90s are gone."

- Angelo Avlonitis was talking to Lucy Aitken.

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