Mannequins On The Streets

· 15.November.2018

The concept of capturing the secret and surreal dimension of the shop windows’ mannequins, which I discovered by chance as I was wandering around the streets of Athens, revealed an unknown, yet interesting relationship between them, people and their urban surroundings. I usually came across them either at street markets or piled up disjointedly outside shops, which fascinated me.
We often find them in our everyday lives’ surroundings, in shop displays, but rashly go past them paying no attention to their existence and the symbolisms they may convey. Manufactured dummies that copy contemporary silhouettes and aim to show and display some of our everyday needs like clothes, jewellery and other products of seasonal fashion. As I ran into them on the streets, away from their normal place, I felt the urge to go closer to them and without even touching them I focused on them and created this project.

Their perpetual look and their poise contrary to the constantly changing urban setting stimulated and intrigued my imagination. A challenging bidding to discover their unseen side had just started so that their little stories could emerge from the inhospitable surrounding and their random, temporary placement in it.I used the existing natural light and created a set of photographs which aim to sensitize and affect the simple viewer’s inner self, who regarded them as just another inanimate object, although they actually simulate our own existence.

The procedure and the difficulties I met

It would seem that photographing a topic like “Mannequins on the streets” would be an easy task as the articles are standing still, thus easy to take photos of, but there ‘s more to this than meets the eye.

A main feature of my shooting was no to have contact with the mannequins, that is not to touch them, nor move or place them on a particular spot but shooting them instead out in the streets, where I was discovering them. Capturing and rendering of the surreal element of the mannequins I ran into the streets and pavements demanded a lot of walking and wandering around the streets of Athens where my whole project was completed.

It was very important to discover my subjects and then experiment from different angles so that I could reach this result. The process of studying the natural lighting on the spots I found the mannequins was another crucial feature, since it revealed their hidden aspects before my eyes. For this reason, I visited the place again and again at a different time in the day in order to discover all the new elements appearing before my eyes unexpectedly. Besides, the first contact with an object, a place or a human is never enough to find out the truth behind it.

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/5.6, 1/600sec, ISO200, -0,7 Step, 26mm

Other obstacles I had to go through so as to accomplish this long-lasting photographic project was the unstable weather conditions as well as the constantly changing urban environment.

In the city of Athens, with the constant movement of people and motorcycles and the ubiquity of parked cars, no image is ever stable since everything can change in just a few hours. A lot of times I found myself wandering in isolated neighborhoods with passers-by looking at me in curiosity but not letting them distract me and staying focused on the subject I wanted to photograph acting faster than to any other normal situation. I would also like to mention the noteworthy lurking danger of attack, violence and mugging against the photographer in underprivileged areas. Thus, I try to move in a way that my figure and movements won’t provoke, which has helped me so far.

On the other hand, there are positive reactions by passers-by who approached me and asked me what I was doing. As soon as I showed them the picture I had taken they got excited and wanted to know more about the project, fact that made me feel happy.

Equipment and usage

The choice of the right equipment is a very important element for the fulfilment of a project since a high-quality tool will offer you the ease, the speed and the credibility needed for quick successful shootings. For the particular project I used Fujifilm X-T1 exclusively and later, X-T2 & X-Pro2 with the Fujifilm Fujinon lenses XF18-55 & XF23mm F1.4 R.

The convenience of always carrying a lightweight but quality camera played a great role to the completion of this project. Its size and weight made me forget that I had it in my small bag, which gave me the freedom to move and search for my subjects in this big city. The constant experimenting via the electronic viewfinder gave me the confidence I needed so as to get the desired exposure, creating such a frame that would give the sought out style and atmosphere and would accordingly decode the unseen mannequins’ world. For this reason, I mostly used spot and center weighted photometry type.

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/5.6, 1/220sec, ISO400, -1.7 Step, 46mm

This lightweight, high-quality lens-equivalent of which I haven’t seen in other cameras-enabled me to have all the necessary focal distances from the wide angle lens 18mm to a small telephoto lens 55mm.

So, I had the freedom to create my frames without limitations and reach the desirable result. In cases I wanted to achieve a swallower depth of field separating my subject from the background, I had the exceptional Fujifilm Fujinon XF23 F1.4 R, shooting open wide at F1.4 aperture.


As far as the editing is concerned, I am of the opinion that good photos should not leave the slightest suspicion to the viewer of any special or unnecessary intervention. That’s why I try to do only the basic editing at my photos or to have done it beforehand through the camera’s settings, thing that, as I believe, differentiates the photographers today. At the specific set of photos, for instance, I have used mostly the “sharpening” and “curves” tool. An important role at this point plays the number of parameters at the jpeg files that Fujifilm offers through the menu, as well as the film simulations, as for example increasing or reducing the contrast, the acutance, the tone, etc adding, in this way, an even more personal character to your work and, thus, achieving a specific and individual style. That’s something I often apply to my images, more and more, using for example only jpeg files exactly as they come out of the camera.

Objective and elements that stand out

My goal wasn’t just to find mannequins dumped in the streets or loosely placed out of the stores or in street markets and shoot them. Their metaphysical identity which is being revealed through this project, could not have been brought out differently than studying carefully the space, their connection to the surrounding and make their secrets visible to the viewer.

Therefore, I sought for that little detail which would reveal before the viewers’ eyes the hidden nature of the inanimate models. For example, in photo 03, the score on the mannequin’s cheek brings to our mind a running teardrop and this element in combination with the position of other mannequins around creates a sense of story.

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/8, 1/42sec, ISO400, -0.3 Step, 20mm

In other cases, the hint of movement which is suggested by their body language in addition to the human presence around them, makes them look so naturally placed in the space, which surprises the viewer.

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/4, 1/150sec, ISO200, -1.3 Step, 55mm

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/9, 1/105sec, ISO200, -1.3 Step, 18mm

A never-ending story

I think that this is a never-ending project as it is so rich and captivating that even now, when I pass by a street market and see a mannequin, I ‘ll stop to observe their expressive, timeless look trying to find out what can be hiding behind it.

I will be feeling my senses sharpened and I will be hearing their silent thoughts. I will wallow in my inner self where no fears inhabit and let my feelings and dreams define me.

This way, my imagination is stimulated and stories from another dimension are born, which I can’t reflect otherwise but through the Art of Photography. Thereby, I feel fortunate as I can develop and express my inner thoughts using my small high-quality Fujifilm camera, which I always carry with me.

You can have a look at the full “Mannequins On the Streets” project over at my website.

X-T1, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/3.6, 1/1600sec, ISO200, +0.3 Step, 24mm

X-Pro2, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/4, 1/125sec, ISO400, -0.7 Step, 53mm

X-T2, Fujifilm XF 18-55mm at f/8, 1/400sec, ISO200, +0.3 Step, 44mm

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