EYES OF TRUTH | An Athens Group Action Inside Out Project
Based in Athens, Greece, and with a background in biology and paleontology, I started traveling the world about a decade ago. Combining a passion for adventure with the curiosity my parents instilled in me from a very young age, it was almost impossible to stay put. Twelve years and 51 countries later, I still find myself addicted to traveling, amazed by the complexity of our nature, the vast differences (and surprising similarities) of various cultures and the immense beauty of the natural world. Trying to find a suitable way to communicate my thoughts and feelings while on the Road, I “stumbled” upon photography. Up until now it remains a near perfect medium to tell my stories.
When I was contacted in early June by MELD about participating a photography project in Athens, I admit I was hesitant for a number of reasons. To name a few, most of my photo shoots are done overseas and I hadn’t worked in Europe for quite a few years, let alone the vast wasteland we call Athens. Somehow I detest taking photos in the place I call home, and when I’m here, my camera gear stays in the bag till it’s time to go to the airport. In addition, I was in the midst of intense preparations for an upcoming documentary photo trip to Eastern Africa so it meant I would have less than a month to complete the project (shooting and editing) and at the same time be mentally and physically ready for some hardcore traveling in war-torn areas, beginning in late July. It’s funny how things work though. All it took to get on board was meeting Corinne and Yvonne in person. A glass of sparkling water and a few smokes later, we shook hands and I was on my way back home to dust my gear and think of the logistics.
Little did I know when I agreed to do this project that it would be one of the most intense experiences I’ve had in Athens in quite a while. My initial goal was to have as much geographical coverage as possible. And I don’t mean Athens – think globally. Naturally, I soon realized that my ambitions needed to be taken down a notch. Apparently there are fewer Aussies and Kiwis raising families in Athens than one might expect. That meant Oceania was out of the game from the very start. My contacts for the various immigrant communities in Athens came from the Immigrant School in Exarhia. There, I merely asked and I instantly got a list of phone numbers and addresses of all the NGOs operating in Athens. From there it was simply a matter of making my phone provider just a little bit richer. Of course it’d be a lie if I claimed everything went smoothly. Making phone calls, dealing with the occasional rejection, booking appointments, roaming the city in order to meet the families, getting to know them, listening to their stories… it was intense to say the least; but at the same time, very rewarding. Two weeks and a few thousand clicks later, the shooting was done. Nine countries, four continents and sixteen families were represented.
To Yvonne Senouf and Corinne Weber, founders of MELD, a big thanks for entrusting me with this project and for all the conversations in a backyard somewhere in Pangrati. I’ll be seeing you a lot in the months to come!
None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Doreta Linakis, owner of deBop magazine, and a good friend who sponsors my exhibitions in Greece. She’s the one who introduced me to Corinne and Yvonne in the first place.
Dia Kalaitzoglou, a fellow photographer and travel writer arranged the meetings with the Asian communities and helped with the cinematography. He’s on his way to China at the moment. Bon voyage brother!
Helen Sotiriadis, a Greek-American professional photographer and good friend, helped me with some of the post processing, providing valuable guidance when I felt lost.
My better half and the person whose advice I crave the most
when it comes to photography, Alexia McConnell, was right
next to me every step of the way. She’s responsible for most of
the lighting, the behind-the-scenes footage and she is the first
one to see the final selections. Alex I can’t thank you enough…
Finally, a big thank you to all the wonderful people who I met during this past month.
Entebbe, Uganda – July 29, 2011
To view more of Stavros’ work, please visit: www.stavrosmakris.com