Greece has always held a special place in my heart. My maternal grandfather was born in Greece, and although he died when I was a little over three years old, his influence on me has been tremendous. I have always thought of myself as Greek. I have vivid memories of him from the time I was two years old. As a young boy, I would imagine myself a great Greek hero like those I saw in the movies. When I got a chance to go to Greece for the first time, I was excited to visit what I considered my ancient home.
Athens was the first stop in this long awaited adventure. Walking on the Acropolis in the early morning just as the sun was rising and before the bus loads of tourists arrived gave me the feeling of being in an ancient Greek epic. Wandering around with my camera with few other people around (a couple of guards and two or three other early risers) I was able to take my time and photograph this site of early civilization carefully and thoughtfully. As most readers probably know the best light for photography is the hour before and after dawn and the hour before and after sunset. Of course, this takes a little effort, especially in the morning, to get up before the sun, to reach your destination, and to be prepared to use your camera. All you want to do is sleep or eat dinner. Let me tell you that it is always worth the effort. Your best bet is to get to your location before all the other photographers in the morning and leave after all the other photographers in the evening.
While in Athens I tried to get to the Acropolis early every morning, but like every place else I visit, I like to wander the streets. I walked through the Plaka district, through the Temple of Zeus, the archeological museum, and the ruins of the old agora. After a few days in Athens, I boarded a bus and headed south to the other famous city-state, Sparta, on my way to Elika, my grandfather’s birthplace.
Compared to Athens, the city-state of Sparta seems like a little village. Instead of crowds and pollution, it was a small city of few people, palm trees, and wide boulevards. What a delight! While in Sparta, I took a side trip to Mistra, an ancient monastery situated in the hills a few miles outside of Sparta.
After just one day in Sparta, I caught a bus to Elika. Once there I was introduced to the mayor who spoke perfect English, and I was told to leave my luggage anywhere in the street. It was okay, because nobody would touch it. I was then introduced to several people who spoke no English but who seemed to be very happy to see me. These wonderful people were my cousins. In Elika, I found a family that I didn’t know existed. I was a wonderful week of eating, drinking, backgammon, and, of course, photography. It was a pleasure to walk around and photograph the villagers without the usual stare that photographers seem to get these days.
I had been a freelance photographer for only a few months when I went to Greece, but the trip set me on the course to becoming an editorial and travel photographer. I learned a lot about myself (personally) and my photography (professionally) during this trip. These days I carry a camera everywhere I go, and although I may not take a photograph everyday, I am prepared.
Guest blogger: Ron Colbroth
Ron Colbroth is an editorial, travel, landscape and fine arts photographer, whose images have been published in numerous magazines in the US and around the world. He has a passion for cooking and enjoying wonderful wines.