28/02/2017

Bringing some local lifestyle to a villa photo shoot in the South of Crete

My journal

Photographing villas for me is a substantial part of my work. The main aspect I try to implement in this type of work is of genuine lifestyle during each photo shoot.

This is what I incorporated when I recently photographed a small villa in the renowned village of Sfakia in the South of Crete.

Sfakia is known throughout history for the bravery of it’s inhabitants during every single war that the island has been involved in. A proud group of people that now see thousands of tourists flock by during the Summer due to the passage from the Samaria Gorge and quaint neighboring villages like, Loutro, Fragokastelo and others.

Alexandra of Almyra.no brought this new listing to me to photograph and together with the owner Damoulis and my assistant Agie we made a day of it.

The interesting part of the day was finding out how the property first belonged to Damoulis family, then was sold to an Austrian, and now he explained how he bought it back and wants to get closer to his roots.

The recession in Greece has made the proud locals even more proud of their ownership and better see the value of these buildings and have been slowly restoring and making them seasonally available for rental.

Not only do people get to come and stay in a quiet location, with a rich history of bravery and pride, but they also get to chance to experience the genuine culture of Crete.

The people of Crete are known for their hospitality, and the deeper you go into the villages of the island the more noticeable it is. This goes without saying for the people of Sfakia.

Back to the photo shoot of the villa. To better understand the owner’s philosophy and approach I was first shown the rest of the village around the villa I was going to photograph.

Damoulis explained where and how he plans to expand his heritage.

Then during the photo shoot, local products were brought in to be used for the settings. Local cheeses, vegetables, and drinks. When done they became the main ingredient of our farewell meal.

As if that wasn’t enough we were then asked to join Damoulis and go see the mountain portion of his lifestyle. Lucky for us.

You see during the Summer he runs a successful scuba diving center and a business with boats. Renting them, or being hired to move people around the rural beaches and popular little villages by the sea. Since some of the best spots to visit barely even have a trail to walk on. So getting to see some of the most spectacular beaches in the Mediterranean can only be reached by boat. A true asset if staying in the Villa.

So we hopped on the 4X4 pickup truck and went from Sfakia to Imbros then up a rough dirt road to the foothills of the “White Mountains”. There his family maintains and herd sheep. This at 3000ft+ where the temperature dramatically drops and the scenery becomes wild and desolate. Evident were the remains of a few sheep that didn’t make it during the last snow storm. A sad scene, but felt like part of life up there. He then took us to a tree he thought I would find interesting. And yes it was. Hanging over a cliff winded and beat up by the elements of nature. It was shaped by the main direction of the wind and branches were also broken from the extreme days. But as Damoulis pointed out it was amazing to see how the tree never gave up and always fought back and grew new branches against all odds. It remained me of the Cretan spirit.

The spirit that rebels and fights even when no one else thought it was possible, yet winning and standing proud in the end.

This tree looked a lot like some of the older locals found in the area.

Weathered, beat up, and in their faces, you can see the history carved in their rough skin and wrinkles, some of which is grief for the ones lost in their past battles.

Damoulis liked the name I gave the tree and made me its godfather. The highlight of my day.

Despite the past and the neo crisis, the people of the South still open their hearts and homes to visitors in an unimaginable warmth that never seizes to amaze me.

 

Rent Villa Notos Well here

Scuba dive or rent a boat (or trip) at Notos Mare Marine Adventures here

View more pictures I shot of the villa here

 

Special thanks to Alexandra Papamarkaki of Almyra.no for setting up the session

Photo assistant: Agie Tomara

Sfakia village

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