I just want to start by saying that I hope these posts will be a mandatory thing rather than exception. I miss writing and besides that, there are sooooo many photos I’ve taken that just didn’t see the light of day and that’s just a shame. So I want to give this a fresh start and make myself write and share photos at least once a week. We’ll see how that goes.
So let’s begin! Greece! Athens! A dream. It’s been on my bucket list ever since I first got in touch with ancient art and architecture in high school. There was something about the historical energy of temples and sculptures of the ancient world that spoke to me. So couple of months ago on a total random day, my friends and I bought plane tickets and booked a place to stay, before the summer season of photography begins.
The flight was early morning on the 27th of May, only one and a half hour long from Budapest, so we had an entire day for strolling, buying souvenirs, drinking cocktails, coffee, lunch and all of that good stuff. Our apartment was near the National Park of Athens which is really close to Plaka neighborhood, a place buzzing with life and activities. Strolling through a place like this is like being in a live museum that combines ancient with the modern. It’s crazy and it doesn’t make any sense, but at the same time makes perfect sense. And even though we were overly excited that we’re in Athens, by 8pm the trip took its tool and we fell asleep like kittens. I slept for 14hours straight and thank God I did because there were so many amazing places to visit that good rest on the first day was brilliant idea.
As many of you may know I shoot with Canon 5D Mark IV and when I used to travel, my choice of lens was Canon 24-105 f/4 because it has a good zoom range. But! Those two combined are a heavy choice of equipment when you spend you days walking and carrying not only a camera but a bag with personal stuff. Not only that, but aperture 4 gives you really small depth of field, which is something I don’t prefer that much. So this time I wanted to give myself a creative exercise and shoot only with Canon 50mm f/1.8. 50mm is my all time favourite lens because you get that beautiful shallow dept of field and that nice, zoomed crop which makes photos look more inviting.
When it comes to edit, I spent hours tying to perfect the colours which is my favourite part of the process. I wanted to give photos a retro feel, but with saturated colours because I think it really emphasizes the vibe of the city. Athens is so full of life, but it also combines old and new, and that’s something I wanted to shine through my photos.
As all tourists we did the touristy things, like visiting the Acropolis museum, climbing to the Acropolis and gazing at the Parthenon face to face, visiting Academy of Athens and the Hill of Muses. And I absolutely adore being a tourist. While going through all those places, it was absolutely insane to me that I’m standing in front of something that was built 4 centuries BC. The same thing happened couple of years ago when I first saw the Saint Peter’s tomb in Vatican which I will be visiting again in July. *I CAN’T WAIT* Every time I travel, when I come in contact with something breathtaking like remains of old churches, temples, artworks and art in general, I become mesmerised, so I don’t talk and I don’t socialise. I exist in that moment with whatever is in front of me and create stories in my head, trying to feel the energy of the place and imagine what it was like when the place lived. When there were crowds of people that came to the temple (in this case Parthenon) bearing gifts for the Gods, walking through the markets, mingling, raising kids, eating and loving…
These last two years have been absolutely crazy when it comes to traveling and all the restrictions, so when everything started to cool down, I had an agreement with myself that I’m going to travel at any chance I get. I was so grateful that I had a chance to see the temples as the Acropolis before time takes its toll or something else happens that’s going to prevent us from traveling.
It’s amazing how every time I visit a museum or attend an exhibition, my creative juices just start overflowing. It’s so inspiring to see how and what other people create, and for me especially when it’s some kind of older, more traditional technique like sculpture or painting. I don’t know if other photographers share my opinion about this, but I find least inspiration for photos in other photos and more in other art branches. A photo inspired by another photo to me looks more like a copy, wether it was intentional or unintentional, only because it’s the same medium. But when you take inspiration from another medium, that’s something else. Because you have to think about translating sculpture work, for example, into a photo and that’s when the magic happens.
Architecture was always a deep love of mine and I’m kind of sad that I don’t shoot more of it. When I first started with photography I carried my Canon everywhere, shot everything and anything to the point where I choked my pc with 8tb of data. I’m a restless creature and it took me 27 years to realise that I’m just not meant for doing only one thing because I get tired of it. Just like I don’t have an every day scheduled routine because I can’t function that way, it’s the same with sticking only to one creative thing. And that’s perfectly okay. I need to do all the things I want to do in order to feel good and happy. That’s why I decided to write again, to make myself remember the feeling of awe towards things that are in my presence and share a backstory which played in my head while the camera shutter was clicking.
Athens is beautiful by day, but at the night time it’s even more magical because all the cute little cafes and restaurants turn on their colourful lights and it’s more comfortable sitting outside since the heat during the day makes you melt.
We spent the entire Sunday at the Acropolis and hills near it. The weather couldn’t be more perfect, with sunshine bursting through the cloudy sky making shadows mellow and colours so toned. At the top of the Acropolis, you can see the entire Athens and all its suburbs. The view just makes you breathless. When you see all those houses and buildings and streets so tiny below you, you become aware of the multitude of life. So many people living in one place. People you will probably never meet. People who like us have dreams and goals and desires and live their own life in the same world. It’s just so crazy and beautiful that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And on the other side of endless streets of Athens are remains of old temples, built by people thousand years before any of us were even planned. The opposite extremes. And I love those. So I spent our hiking trip just literally tripping on air and history. It was amazing. And I would come back once again to spend the entire day only at the Acropolis, talking to the temples. Or maybe drawing them! Like one girl I saw at the Museum and was absolutely delighted with her sketching dedication. When you come close to the temples and see the perfectly crafted details on the columns or sculptures of caryatides, you can’t believe craftsman did that way before all the wonders of modern technology were invented. That makes it even more special.
That got me into thinking about how in todays day and age, we’re always trying to find shortcut for perfection. Which is impossible of course. But in this modern world, we believe that you can just become a master at your craft over night. Because everything is instant and we se momentary gratification as something better than long therm studying and perfecting our skills. Before our time, people became masters in their craft in a period of a lifetime, and not in two months after they gained 500k followers on social media through marketing strategies. Good work was recognised through the consistency of artworks, created in an artists lifetime, because when you really are an artist, you can’t help but to create forever, and through that forever, it’s inevitable that you create good work. Practice makes perfect. I thought about how many tears were spilled and nerves burned every time one detail on a 10 meters high pillar was done wrong, and they had to do it all over again. Luckily they didn’t quit. They kept building. And today we’re standing in front of those pillars of history and civilization, hoping to become masters of our craft and leave something for generations that will come. Something that will inspire them to become creators, just like those old generations inspired us.
After three days of hiking, museum visits and souvenir shopping, we decided to spend the entire day at the beach, which was one of the best ideas we had. Greece is much warmer than Croatia at that time of the year and since summer season still hasn’t started in our country, taking a swim and laying in the sand was a much needed thing to do after a long winter. Besides drinking ice cold beer in palm tree shade and taking a swim every time our brain starts to cook, we met some guys who were balancing on a rope tied between two trees, so we had to join them. When we were kids, every time someone doesn’t win the race or a sports game, my teacher would said “What matters most is that you participated.” So that’s the sentence I kept repeating to myself after I fell down on my butt over 10 times. But it was sooo much fun! For a couple of hours we were little kids again, and it’s so refreshing to step out of your adult shell and remember what it’s like to play and have fun without an end goal. I highly recommend it because it really resets your seriousness and makes you a little lighter. I still have little red dots on my shoulders and chest from being exposed to harsh sunlight the entire day, but it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a second.
For our last day, we decided to visit Cape Sounion which holds the remains of Poseidon temple. There are absolutely no words that can describe that place, so I’m not going to ramble for long and let you enjoy photos peacefully. I do wanna say one thing; if past lives do exist, I’m pretty sure I lived in a place like this, on a hill that connects land and the sea, a place that’s the highest point of the entire area, where the sun shines through the widows at every given time of the day. It was an hour ride from Athens to Cape Sounion and I just sat there in the bus, listening to music and carving this beautiful feeling of newness and inspiration about life into my memory. Like a mental image that I want to revisit every time I need something to pick me up.
*Please play for full experience*
It was such a beautiful trip and most importantly, I had many epiphanies, obviously. So as I was drinking my last cold brew in Athens another idea came to my mind. I always travel with friends or with my boyfriend, but I want to see how I will manage if I travel alone. I’m curious about how lonely I would feel, how would I spend my time and how would I take in the space. If I do grow the balls to do it, this will be my diary. That’s a food for thought.
When you come back home from a trip, everything feels new and inspiring but nothing really changed except you and that’s how I know I brought back the spark of life back home with me. Until next time, hope you travel somewhere. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” *Hunter S. Thompson fan forever* Sea of love, S.