Can you imagine what a travel photo entails?

Symi, Greece - Yannis Larios Photography

Symi, Greece - Yannis Larios Photography

I was recently reading a great article of Gavin Gough on Digital Photographer about Travel Photography. Gavin stroke a chord by saying that ….

Ask many people to describe the life of a travelling photographer and the odds are that they will conjure up images of a dapper fellow dressed in khaki, sporting a Panama hat and stepping jauntily along a sun-kissed, tropical beach, occassionally lifting a Leica camera to the eye to snap another award winning frame before retiring to the bar for a Pina Colada. The truth, sadly, is somewhat different from this idyllic fantasy.

Travel photography is hard work […] It demands a unique blend of stubborn determination and unflinching optimism“.

Now Gavin’s words were echoing in my ears everytime I ascended another hundred of steps with my 8kg photo backpack and 3kg tripod to search for the high-vista with a brilliant view of Symi island! Everytime that the 39 degrees Celsius, collided with a dead-end alley that permitted no view, and thus was a lost battle, I was remembering this “unflinching optimism“… There has to be something better. I have pre-visualised it! I shall not quit!

And even after you have sweated (literally!) all of the 500+ steep stairs high above, and even after you have walked and trekked, and researched and carried all this weight, and even more after you have found a rock’s corner that resembled the sweet-spot that you had imagined…  then probably it was already too late … because the light was not right!

But then comes this “stubborn determination“… It’s this strange urge that wakes you up at 6:00am next morning to push you again to ascend the same 500 stairs, to reach the same spot, but this time with the golden light that completes the picture that you already had in mind.

I dedicate the above photo, shot at 7:00am from a very high vista point of Symi island, to all fellow photographers (pros or enthusiasts) that wake up early or stay up late and alone in search of the perfect light. To all those friends that carry tens of kilos in cameras, lenses and tripods on their back, just for this liberating moment when your vision becomes a reality… 

It’s a testament that stubborness and optimism, may after all be the ingredients not just for a unique photo, but rather for meeting your vision and your inner self. See you at the next cliff!

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“Faith” – Stories behind photos #6

 This Clarisses photo was shot at chapel in Ano Syros (Syros island, Greece) in summer 2008.

I found a small chapel and entered. No people were inside. There were just two nuns, hidden behind a wooden barrier and unseen. Two nuns, one playing the organ and one singing a chant with a glorious voice, praying alone inside. 

You could not see them but they were there, singing gloriously.

They had no audience, but they put their best for their faith. I stayed there for about 20 mins in awe, waiting to see any of them behind the barrier.

I kept waiting for a glimpse that could really depict the glory of the chant and of the moment. At the right moment I managed to capture this glimpse of their devotion.

Hope you like its symbolism…

PS: Ines, a “digital” friend was kind enough to e-mail me some further details on Clarisses. 

Ines wrote: “these nuns are called “Clarisses” (in UK “Poor Clare”) and as you can understand they are what we say in greek “eglistes kalogries”. They don’t go out and they make a great work for the poors. That’s what I know about them, (as I have roots from Syros) and I have also been told from relatives that they are very kind and their voice is something else!”

Indeed Ines, their voice was something else! Thank you!

A thank-you to unknown Actors that enliven my “stages” – Stories behind photos #5

Yannis Larios Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I owe a “thank-you” note, to all unknown Actors that enliven my photography “stages”. Like this lady, in my photo!

I have been walking around in Paroikia, Paros  at the golden hour, when I reached this vista point overlooking the sea, camera always on shoulder. I had the priviledge of overlooking the entrance to the harbour. I could spot things from high above. I previsualised a picture, but it was still early in time. This would have to wait to materialise…

But until then? Nothing around… I hated to do the stereotypical empty horizons. There was no way that the eye would wander around exploring the sea and then find nothing to “rest” upon. Admittedly, no balance. No story. Thus, no photo opportunity.

Could something save me? Yes! the virtue of patience and the urge to seek…

I had the stage set, lights on (and the golden ones!), but no actors, no script. And suddenly…. Little stories forming themselves. It was time for the evening ship to come to Paros island. It was the same time that I had arrived in the island some days ago. I had spotted this large sun-disc while onboard and wanted to see this again. So I was there for a reason…. But a different story unfolded…

As the ship was becoming visible in the horizon, I “asked” for a story of return. A story of a Penelope. Such stories need not be imaginative, cause they are real. As this lady was also real! Walking leisurely, wearing her iPod earphones she noticed the ship, the hour, the colours. She probably also liked “my” stage… And then she entered, deciding to play the “Actor”. She never talked to me. I never asked her anything. She just took the most convenient position…. For her, to enjoy the view. For me to re-compose the scene.

I now had a story! I tried several views. Some higher above, some from the side. But in the end, I decided that the Actor had already made the choice for herself…. There was almost nothing for me to do, than compose the scene, and then click.

Penelope, was the title I gave to the photo. Cause this lady, took the role for herself. Never talked. But the story was written by her. I now had a photo opportunity!

My own Blurb experience: “Paros, beyond crowded eyes” book

Paros, beyond crowded eyes

 

 

[See a part of the Paros portfolio contained in the Blurb photobook by clicking here… or enjoy the relaxing Paros photoslide with music, by clicking here (last in row)]

 

Back in September 2007, I made my second Blurb book, about Paros island. I named it after my Paros portfolio: “Paros, beyond crowded eyes” to convey a different approach to this fabulous island.

I was keeping a blogpost on this, so I thought I should make it available for public use here…


1.  Preparing the photobook at home…

I selected 60 of my photos from Paros island. I had already installed the Booksmart application (version 1.8.1 back then) to make the layout. Booksmart is provided for free by Blurb and is easy to create a book with templates etc. The most current version is now 1.9.5 , which is much more stable.

It took me almost 3 days (evening work) to make the layout, including photos and captions. The end-result was looking rather good. All photos were imported at full-size 300dpi. It took me almost 40 mins to upload the book and the whole thing was rather easy (full marks here). I should note however, that I have been using a monitor color calibrator for optimal results. If you wish to make a photobook not only with Blurb but indeed with anyone else you should have one of these little gadgets to avoid color wash-out surprises!


2.  Ordering…

I ordered the book on September 15, 2007. Blurb said it would ship on September 25 so I guess I would be having it at around Sept 28 (shipped to Athens, Greece), almost 13 days after ordering. Another full mark here for Blurb.

The shipping costs remained an issue. My hardcover was landscape 10″x8″, 120 pages total, and amounted to €28. Shipping USPS standard costs were at €25! Ι complained. I wrote to them on Saturday 15, 2007 as soon as I saw the charges. They responded early Monday. They said that this is “normal cost”, much reduced since the past. Well, it is better than the past, but still too high. Since then, they have also introduced a cheaper but slower normal mail possibility. Nevertheless, the book went into preparation.


3.  Photobook arrived!

Well my Blurb book arrived on Sept 25,2007, earlier than expected (!). The packaging was good and the book was shrinkwrapped, although not with bubbles. Blurb could do better on that. The packaging is similar to how Amazon.co.uk ships books. Mine came to Greece shipped from the Netherlands.

 

4.  Examining the photobook…

The colour reproduction was faithful and I was amazed by the good quality even though I had some “difficult” sunsets included! The overall setup and purchasing experience was quite improved since my first book (about Santorini island) so I was really happy about it. Stitching was hard made this time, although I kept my fingers crossed. The original Santorini book fell apart as soon as I browsed it. As of today (June 2008 ) almost nine months later, the Paros photobook is as strongly stitched as day one…

 

5.  Samples

I know that no description could match a sample of the real thing. So here are some photos of the book…  (some artifacts or visibe noise on these pictures is due to .jpg compression and not visible on the book)

The cover (at the right of the cover there is a desk-lamp shadow which looks like a bent. It’s not. The book arrived in perfect shape)
 

 
An overall view of the inside:

Another inside view:

Inside detail:

 

A detail of the stitching:

 

Despite the original nagging at my first Santorini photobook which fell apart, this time this photobook is still going strong after so many months of use. Actually I went on to order some 7 or so more copies for friends and clients. A sample of the inside is here in pdf (as produced by Blurb)…

Although I have not yet moved on to produce my most aspiring photobook about Venice, I think summer might be the time due to some spare time after job… An overall positive Blurb experience.

(I should make a note here that I am not directly on indirectly or in any case affiliated to Blurb. I have been in the past very critical about some aspects of their work, but this time I think they are starting to make a difference in the new and promising Printing-On-Demand business)

Your own comments on your Blurb books (plus possible links) would be most welcome, so as to enrich our experiences!