Written by Amma Aburam
In his series “The Guardians,” French photographer Vladimir Antaki introduces us to a new kind of temple: the urban temple. These places are not uncommon – in fact, they line the streets around the world. Urban temples can be your local bric-a-brac stores, newsstands or vintage boutiques that, though ubiquitous, are always one of a kind. They reflect the unique personality or interests of their “Guardians” or, simply said, their shopkeepers. These Guardians take a majestic central position in each of Mr. Antaki’s photographs. He invites people to see beyond the simple facades of these shops, casting the owners in a new light.
“People pay less and less attention to their environment. They are always in a hurry; they don’t take the time to spend time with one another. Unfortunately, these places will one day no longer be around. This is one of the reasons that compelled me to want to document these Guardians,” Mr. Antaki says when describing his motivation to capture these photos.
His photography has taken him to Los Angeles, Mexico, Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Las Vegas, London, New York, Paris, Vienna and Montreal, where he has photographed mechanics’ garages, record stores, collectors’ emporiums and more. Mr. Antaki takes us on a journey to discover these urban temples, which breathe life into their surroundings.
This past month, Mr. Antaki won a photo contest in France by MyPhotoAgency, which coordinates photo shoots, and JCDecaux, an advertising company. Since then, three of his photos from “The Guardians” have been displayed in over 100 cities in France such as Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse. It is a photographer’s dream.
Mr. Antaki has joined the Horyou platform, so check out his photos to discover the life inside these urban temples, as well as their intriguing Guardians. Then why not strike up a conversation with a local shopkeeper?