Born to Greek immigrant parents in the American South, Constantine Manos first started photographing in South Carolina, documenting the segregated state as the nascent civil rights movement gathered steam. He went on to shoot his career-making project on the remote villages of Greece’s myriad islands – all of this work made in black and white. Then, after publishing his book Greek Portfolio, he moved to New York and undertook numerous commercial projects.

“The money was good, but I was in a bit of a rut. I needed to do something that was my own… That’s when I began traveling around the USA photographing Americans of all walks of life – in color.” Manos wilfully reinvented his style, starting to use Kodachrome film, and building the extensive body of work that would become his best-known book, American Color. This image, from the second instalment of that project, reflects the photographer’s newfound love of the medium. “It was a radical change for me, and it was certainly a conscious effort,” reflects Manos. “I think the result is a celebratory picture of America. I made those pictures whenever I had time, and I think that’s the best way to make a body of work – not having an editor waiting for you, just doing it on your own – using your own money and time.”

Constantine Manos is a multi-award winning photographer known for his work in Greece and the United States.

Born in South Carolina to Greek parents in 1934, Manos developed a passion for photography at a young age. Having honed his technique in his high school camera club, he started working on assignments for local newspapers, as well as personal work focusing on segregation in the Southern United States. At the age of 19 he was hired to photograph the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which led to the publication of his first book, Portrait of a Symphony.

After a spell in the military, Manos moved to New York, where he resumed his photography career, shooting for publications such as LIFE and Esquire. Next was a move to Greece, from 1961 to 1963, where he made the work A Greek Portfolio. The book was composed of images from his travels throughout the Greek countryside, shooting landscapes and glimpses of a way of life that had remained more or less unchanged for centuries.

Returning to the US, Manos joined Magnum Photos in 1965 and settled in Boston, starting a decades-long photographic relationship with the city. In 1974 he became the chief photographer for “Where’s Boston?”, a multi-media portrait of the city and its people, which provided the photographs for his book Bostonians.

Having shot in black and white for many years, Manos made the switch to color photography. “It was a radical change for me, and it was certainly a conscious effort,” he said in 2019. “I was looking for a completely different style of picture from my Greek work.”

This work became Manos’ first color book, American Color. He had such a positive experience making the series that he decided to produce a second publication in color: American Color 2. This image, included in that second book, was taken in Miami Beach, Florida in 2003.

Of his color photographs, Manos has said: “I think those two books represent an important body of color work – they aren’t just pretty pictures, and there is some depth to them. I think the result is a celebratory picture of America.”

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