MICHEL CALIAMBETSOS (Greece 1874-1957 / act: Athens)

Michel Caliambetsos Michel A. Caliambetsos began his career as photographer almost at the beginning of the 20th century, but remained active also during the interwar years. He came from a farming family who originated in Rumeli. From a young age he worked as a peddler in small trade fairs where he sold fabrics, mirrors, pictures and frames.

In the early 20th century he decided to engage with photography, of which til then he was unaware. Around 1907 he invested all his savings to open a large photographic studio at 54-56 Stadiou Street, on the junction with Georgiou Stavrou Street. At the same time he operated in the yard an enterprise manufacturing pictures and frames. In the beginning he brought to his photostudio an Italian technician who trained younger assistants. Later he hired and a retoucher. He was very obsessed with America, which is why he called his studio "Great American Photostudio of Artistic Enlargements". While collaborating with Italians and using French and German machines, in advertisements he mentioned: "This photostudio that has recently been enriched with newest machines of American invention has become the finest of those operating in Greece [...]" [Patris newspaper, Syros Island, # 2255, 11/07/1909].

The increase of customers led him to invite his brother, Leonidas, to whom he taught photography, to assist him. Between 1909-1914 worked there Eustace Boukas. With the exception of for some early shots, Caliambetsos did not shoot landscapes and artistic photography in general. He was, however, a consistent trader, who strove to provide his customers with the best possible quality. Since 1916 his studio took to produce photoengraving work.

Owing to family disputes in 1919 Leonidas left the firm, and opened his own photographic studio, near his brother. It was about then that he formed a partnership with the photographer L. Lemoine. This colloboration did not last very long. In 1927, when he had to be away abroad for six months, he passed the command of his photostudio to Panagiotis Sakellarides.

Caliambetsos had enough staff (accountants, technicians, etc.) that he could not easily inspect. When he decided to carry out inspection, the information leaked and one night his photostudio and the enterprise at Gazi burned in a fire. Despite suffering such a severe blow, he tried again, in 1934, to operate a photostudio in collaboration with K. Adamopoulos at 96 Aeolou Street. Soon, however, the studio closed, and since then he dealt only with the production and marketing of frames. He died at the age of 83 years, in 1957, having already withdrawn several years earlier.

[Alkis X. Xanthakis 2008 / translated by Megakles Rogakos]

XANTHAKIS, ALKIS X. Michel A. Caliambetsos... and his Great American Photostudio 11/1001 Photographer #98 [Greek]
XANTHAKIS, ALKIS X. History of Greek Photography 1839-1970 2008 Papyros Publishing Company, Athens, p.286-287 [Greek]