Athens | The Little Great City

You know that I always admire talented people and their art! This post is to highlight the art of Emmanouil Papadopoulos, entitled “Athens | The Little Great City“. A magnificent work that (presumably!) uses a tilt-and-shift lens, time lapse techniques and uniform color correction to highlight the city I live in: Athens, Greece.

The end result is magnificent! Everything looks like a miniature toy, thanks to the shallow depth-of-field of the tilt-n-shift lens…

Thank you Emmanouil… And Kudos! Rare talent! You have me watching this again and again….

(if video isn’t playing please go directly here at youtube to watch)


Meteora-When only Photography captures the true feeling: Stories behind photos #7

(download and watch a full-screen high resolution version of my Meteora photo slideshow at my website here)

Meteora is a unique phenomenon in the world…   Unless you have visited it, you cannot imagine the awe and the contradicting feelings evoked by just being there. Contradicting because for one it’s the huge rocks and cavities that have been shaped in peculiar forms through thousands of years. A true feeling of smallness, in front of these titanic elements of nature. But also contradicting, because on-top of these rocks religious men built inaccessible monasteries. A strange feeling of greatness for mankind that conquers any peak. Such are the antithetical feelings evoked by this place, which is sculptured equally by the fierceness of time and the power of faith.

Nevertheless, access to this place is easier nowadays. Roads have been built and buses of tourists have access to almost any monastery. Traditional ropes and carts that helped you literally climb the rocks, gave way to stairs. Still numerous to ascend, but manageable. These days, faith is not the sole passport to this mysterious place.

This has brought inevitable change. Any attempt to re-live the inspiring experience of the landscape may be interrupted every now and then by the cheers of tourists. Any spiritual encounter that you may experience inside any monastery, might be broken by the next visitor laughing aloud at his mobile phone.

So is there a way to actually isolate the true feeling that the place inspires? Is there still any atmosphere emitted from the secret-corners of the monasteries, experienced only by the few that wish to seek them?

They say that photography struggles to depict a three-dimensional world at the two-dimensions of paper (or the screen nowadays) and it mostly fails. But I say that the viewfinder of my camera, has proven the only means that helped isolate the greatness of the place. Because I could depict on the same frame, the vastness of the land and the height of the rocks, and at the same time the smallness of man’s works, undisturbed. For it was my shutter that could imprison the play between elements of nature, the clouds and the winds, with the unique beauty of the monasteries. And it was my open-apertures that let me penetrate inside the true character of the monasteries, highlighting unique corners and the play of light without any need to hurry or to explain nothing to anyone. It was my camera that let me photograph not “what” I saw, but “how” I saw. The four corners of my photos, instead of limiting my possibilities actually proliferated my view. I had to focus. And thus, I was now seeing more…

The brief Meteora photo slideshow above, is my attempt to convey the experience of Meteora as I lived it. However, I kindly invite you to re-live the experience by downloading the higher resolution version from my website here…

Watch it with the sound set to on. And let photography convey the true feelings evoked from this place. For you will have never seen Meteora this way, even in real life, unless there was the need to focus meticulously and recompose reality…

Santorini Wedding couple – Stories behind photos #3

Newly weds 

These Newly Weds can also be found at my website at a larger size, by clicking here.

This specific photo has admittedly created a lot of misunderstandings in my Santorini photos portfolio! 

You see, Santorini is a great wedding destination. Thousands of marriages are carried out every year at the hundreds of its small churches and chappels. Specialised wedding services provide everything but the bride (…. or the groom accordingly!) and help people experience what is probably a wedding at the most exquisite place!

So…. how could I possibly explain that this shot is not a staged one, but rather a spontaneous glimpse captured through my lens?  How could I persuade all those good people that ask me to cover their wedding in Santorini that I am not a staged-photo wedding photographer, but rather a hunter of real moments?

Exhausted from another full day of walk around the cliffs of Firostefani, we rushed with my wife for a sip of coffee and some final relaxing views before our flight back to Athens. While at the cafe, we saw that just-married couple arriving having some of its shots taken by a pro photographer.

Hey! We see thousands of them every year…..“, mumbled the cafe-owner, a typical middle-aged rogue greek villager with the moustache and the belly. “It’s just another couple! No big deal!“… he said making good efforts to de-mystify the moment. 

They were standing at the terrace just below us. A single staged photo here… Another staged photo there…. Another fixed setting after that… Sit-down. Stand-up. Smile. Now hug.

Nice hour…“, I thought “and a truly beautiful couple. Pity about the stiff positions!“. Following the strict commandments of their photographer, the couple moved endlessly around the terrace, sitting… standing…. smiling, yet not sure whether being themselves. After almost a ten-minute shoot, the photographer left. The light was even better now. And the couple was relaxed…

Well, I was not! You see I had the perfect spot. Higher above them at the cafe, priviledged to examine their now more natural moves. The “pro’s” work was over…. But now it was our own time! The couple and me in co-ordination… They strolled slowly across the terrace…. My fingers were already fumbling my camera in the bag. I was already wishing for their next steps… I was sending thoughts on where I wished they would stand… They followed!

The lady left the flower-bouquet resting on the wall. The couple stood side-by-side, hands held, admiring the magnificent view. The light was spot on. She leaned on him, giving me the signal… Stood-up, grabbed the camera, two shots, 5 seconds in total.

The rest of the story was typical: The cafe-owner shaking his head about this fool-enthusiast photographer who gets charmed by nonsense. The pro leaving the spot with a bag full of staged shots. The couple admiring the view and enjoying their new life. And myself with a precious moment captured…

Now how on-earth to explain all that, to these good people asking for wedding shots, that in wedding photography I prefer to capture real moments….

[edit: After quite some demand from couples, from Greece and abroad, I am now among the Greek Wedding Photographers 🙂 ]