Anyone who has picked up a camera knows how frustrating it can be trying to find the right setting in time to capture that perfect moment. After spotting the desired shot, there is usually a bit of fumbling about trying to guess the correct setting before the photographer gives up, goes to automatic, and ends up with either an out-of-focus or over-exposed image.
It was problems like these that friends of Aris Venetikidis wanted help with. “I'm certain that I'm not the first designer and photographer whose friends constantly asked about how to do stuff in Photoshop, what camera to purchase, and about tricks on how to operate them” he says.
The accidental teacher
What started as an informal gathering of friends, where 37-year-old Aris would pass on some basic photography tricks, has now turned into the fully-fledged photo school VisualHub.
Aris Venetikidis. Photo: VisualHub.at
“It happened almost by accident,” he says. “Thing is: I love explaining stuff. Eventually, I started to pool a handful of interested friends together to save time and their feedback was a strong encouragement to offer frequent regular courses.”
Today VisualHub is the only place in Vienna offering regular lessons in English for photography enthusiasts. “We just saw a need for this,” says Aris, adding that he hadn't planned to do this when he moved to Vienna from Ireland with his wife Sigita, aged 31.
In fact, they almost didn't come to Vienna at all. Following the economic crash in Ireland, Aris and Sigita - who have Greek/German and Lithuanian backgrounds respectively - decided to move on somewhere else.
After rating a list of cities based on stability, income and housing, they got it down to five. “Then we spent a summer travelling to the cities. It came down to Berlin and Vienna and eventually we chose Vienna because it felt a little bit more cosy,” he explains.
Now six years on and with a nine-month-old son, the couple have settled into Austrian life, although not without some difficulties.
“It can be difficult to start a business in Austria when you have a foreign sounding name because people have certain ideas about how they should deal with you,” he says. “That's actually one of the reasons we're trying to appeal to international people.”
Offering group and private courses ranging from beginner to advanced level, VisualHub teaches students techniques such as how to control photo cameras, edit photographs professionally, or even shoot expressive studio portraits. Lessons take place at the studio near Schönbrunn Palace, just one of the many picturesque and interesting sites around Vienna for photographers.
'Wonderful range of themes'
“A city like Vienna has a wonderful range of themes,” says Aris. “From imperial palaces to urban lifestyle at the Danube canal, from urban exploration in abandoned places to beautiful nature: everything is within easy reach and close together.”
Aris sees the school - which is a side project to his main job running his design and photography agency - as an opportunity to share both his skills and enthusiasm for photography.
“I care about seeing exciting creative projects and photo shoots come to life and what I can do to help,” he says. “There's nothing quite like watching curious people discover how to use their camera and turn it into a creative tool for beautiful art.”
Visual Hub, in conjunction with The Local Austria is running a photo contest until 31 March 2016. The theme is "Hidden Vienna” and the photos do not need to be made by professional photographers, in fact the photo that suits the theme could even be snapped with a phone - the best idea counts!
Submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best photo, in the opinions of the judges, will be awarded a free Basic Photo course (worth 139.- Euro) to be held in Vienna.
All photos will remain the property of the submitter, and must be original and captured during 2016. Submission to the competition grants The Local limited rights to publish images on its web site and social media, to promote Visual Hub and The Local Austria.
This article was produced by The Local Austria and sponsored by VisualHub.