Elli Souyioultzoglou-Seraïdari (Greek: Έλλη Σουγιουλτζόγλου-Σεραϊδάρη) b.1899 - d.1998 (better known as Nelly's) was a Greek female photographer whose pictures of ancient Greek temples set against sea and sky backgrounds helped shaped the visual image of Greece in the Western mind.
She was born in Aidini, near Smyrna (now İzmir), Asia Minor, and after the 1922 expulsion of the ethnic Greeks of Asia Minor by the Turks following the Greco-Turkish war (1919-1922), she went to study photography in Germany under Hugo Erfurth and Franz Fiedler. In 1924, she came to Greece, where she adopted a nationalistic and conservative approach to her work.
At some point she was referred to as "the Greek Leni Riefenstahl" because of her collaboration with the 4th of August Regime (1936-1941), of which she was one of its most prolific photographers. As a Greek of the Diaspora, Nelly's view of Greece tended to be somewhat "idyllic", which matched the propaganda aims of the quasi-fascist regime, led by General Ioannis Metaxas. In fact, her work helped illustrating the idea of the racial continuity of the Greeks since Antiquity, which was within Metaxas' agenda.
In 1936, she photographed the Berlin Olympic Games, where she met Leni Riefenstahl, and accompanied her to Olympia. In 1939, she was commissioned with the decoration of the interior of the Greek pavilion at the New York's World Fair, which she did with gigantic collages expressing the physical similarities between ancient and modern Greeks.
After the Greek defeat to the German Army in 1941 and the consequent end of the 4th of August regime, she left Greece for the United States, where she developed her talent in new disciplines such as advertising photography, photo-reportages. In the US she maintained links with powerful Greeks including shipowners Stavros Niarchos and Aristotle Onassis and developed contacts with the White House.
In 1985, Nelly's donated her photo archives and cameras to the Benaki Museum in Athens, while in 1987 she was presented with an honorary diploma and medal by the Hellenic Centre of Photography and the government. In 1993, she was awarded the Order of the Phoenix by the president of the Greek Republic. In 1996, the Athens Academy presented her with its Arts and Letters Award.
Nelly's died in Athens, Greece, on August 18, 1998.
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- Page about Nelly's work at the 1939 World Fair Article on Nelly's and the Greek pavilion at the 1939 New York's World Fair
- Nelly's Book A micro-site showing some of Nelly's works
- A page about Nelly's on the Benaki Museum website