Ilias Hatzakis – a talented Travel Photographer from Greece

Photography, when exhibited, gives you this magnificent feeling… It absorbs you into the moment… It recreates stories even if you have never been there… It even creates the sounds and the smells of the place and puts you in-between the lives of strangers, as a member of their families. And photography leaves you in a state of alert for what’s around the corner, just outside the frame!

I don’t know if you have experienced it. But I just did. I am writing this post as I came back from the Travel photography exhibition of good friend Ilias Hatzakis. Ilias is a colleague working on promoting technology, much as I do. But to me, he has always been a talented photographer with a unique gift for capturing moments. Year after year, our discussions escaped technology and drifted on photography. To my eyes he is among the top Greek Travel Photographers. For all his modesty, he thinks it’s just a hobby. But he is wrong. Ilias’ photos are bursting from life. Each one, within its borders, is a small act of play. The actors, the audience, the plot are all within the frame and are depicted magnificently, with the vibrant colors and the expressive faces that he can capture.

I have always admired Ilias’ work. He was always generous to share it with the world on his Flickr account. But there was always a pitfall: the computer screen.

Today, I had the privilege of visiting Ilias travel photography exhibition alone, beyond the normal “bustling” schedules so that I could absorb the stories as he has framed them. Families from Burkina Faso behind windows overlooked me, describing their lives through their eyes and pitiful smiles. Children playing at the dusty roads of Mali and India, greeted me. People from Nepal and Tibet stared at me with their wrinkling eyes full of curiosity. People of struggle welcomed me in their daily fight to prepare for their next day, selling things at the local flea markets which are setup wherever there is life… Ilias’ captures led me away. Large prints, although smaller than I would have preferred for his work, drew me into them! And this time, the colors and the excellent prints, accentuated his work. The barrier of the computer monitor is no longer there.

It’s hard to explain but I have a sense of relief. Many friends have attended the exhibition and praised my friend for his absolutely stunning work. But it’s not that fact which makes me happy… It’s rather because I believe that this exhibition is not just a showcase to the public. For me, it’s a moment when Ilias decided to embrace his own pieces of artwork with the respect that they deserve. He has always been the harshest critic of himself, but today it’s as if I have seen him giving a broad smile to his treasure. And hopefully this paves his next step, on his course to being acknowledged as a top Greek travel photographer, with a unique vision.

If you are around Athens, be sure to visit Ilias Hatzakis travel photography exhibition at Bartessera, until the 2nd of May 2011.