Born and raised in Athens, photographer Yannis Bournias likes to see behind appearances in everything he does. His art-photography work captures landscapes and people in a poignant and evocative way, as if his camera caught reality off-guard. In the pages of magazines, his fashion editorials are equally atmospheric and seem to unfold like a visual narrative. A keen and curious traveler, he has a deep curiosity about people, places, culture and history, which in 2013 led to the founding of NOMAS, a biannual collectible magazine that’s had its fifth issue released last June. Published in Greece but with a watchful eye turned to the wider world, NOMAS seeks to discover the soul of each place it visits, mainly through photography and a selection of interviews, articles, fashion and art.
Nomás means nomad in Greek, a very apt name for a magazine that seems to have no inclination to settle down in one particular place. Each of its first four issues is about a different city, and Yannis, together with the magazine’s team of editor Lina Stefanou, creative director Yannis Karlopoulos, art director Dimitris Kourkoutis and fashion director Manos Jojos, have roamed from Athens to Istanbul, Porto and Paris, capturing the essence of these places as seen through their eyes. Breaking away from this city-traveler motif, the magazine’s fifth issue isn’t focusing on a particular place but is rather a survey on human mobility and movement —a theme triggered by the recent refugee crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and its particular impact on Greece. Graced with rare interviews, an almost poetic and enthrallingly personal journal by Lina Stefanou, photo essays, fashion editorials and contemporary art, each issue of NOMAS is printed on luxurious paper and is meant to be kept in one’s collection “for ever”, as Yannis explains during our interview.
“We’re probably the only magazine in Greece that combines travel, street photography, fashion and art. We are Greek-born, Greek-based, and very proud to be so.”
As a artist, Yannis is fascinated by people and cities, hence his extensive work in portraiture and nightscapes; he’s also intrigued by the chance factor of street photography: “There’s nothing planned in the street, nothing staged. But the moment someone puts their eye behind the camera, it’s all about their point of view, their choices.” This personal approach and aesthetic has certainly found its way into NOMAS, but Yannis doesn’t want the magazine to be all about his own aesthetic: “As a publisher, I want to have other people’s points of view in the magazine. I don’t want to stick to one particular aesthetic or viewpoint. I think that the magazine should remain open, and allow itself to evolve.”
Despite the difficult years in the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown, Yannis never left Athens for a better future abroad —a choice that he admits has made his connection with the city even stronger. “Athens is not what you would call a ‘beautiful city’”, he admits, “but it’s a very interesting place and there’s so much happening here now. I love the city centre at night, taking long walks, the Areopagitou street that goes around the Acropolis is incredible...” For Yannis, Greece is perhaps the most beautiful place on Earth; and since he’s been traveling the world for 20 years now in search of beauty, I think there's no risk in taking his word for it.