So why Greece?
Is a question I am often asked, surprisingly mostly by Greeks. It is hard to put into a few words, because Greece is more than words, it is more than a few pictures, more than the people that are supposed to be there to look after it’s interests both at home and abroad. To me it is a nation that for whatever reason we all know is there but choose to ignore it, the images, the stories, the history, the list is endless but, speak to anyone and they all say, “oh it was fantastic”. So for me it is confusing, I have taken thousands of images over the years, too much acclaim from many. When I am given that answer I always ask myself, ‘if it were that good why not go back?’, which invariably gets asked and I am then told they wanted to try somewhere else or we don’t have the money to go etc. Fair enough, not much I can do to counter that, but, at the back of my mind I have a niggling doubt every single time I hear that, for I am telling myself, they are scared. Of what? The rubbish news put out about the Austerity measures, OK not so much this year thankfully because it looks to me that what I had hoped for is now starting to happen, and that being for Greece to just keep chipping away at its problems, forget what is going on outside its borders and really knuckle down to getting its own house in order. That is my view, I may be well of the mark but that is how I see it.
As far as it goes with me, well, again it is difficult, it is nothing to do with the weather, I for sure do not go to get a nice tan, hence why I make a point of travelling there during the winter months as well as summer, it is for people to see that I am committed and do care and to be able to give a broader picture of life there to others that may wonder what goes on when the beaches are closed. For sure some of the best images I have captured have been during the winter and for me it is great due to having most roads light in traffic as opposed to the traffic jams on a Friday afternoon towards Halkidiki during the summer.
I think it boils down to the very first time I stepped foot of the plane onto Greek soil, something inside me told me I belong. I had never experienced that before, from there, the more I looked, the more I not only saw but experienced, and then the worst of the austerity hit, and Bang, I was smack bang in the middle of it all, watching a nation wilt from grace, not only the country but more so the people. I have had so many conversations with people over the years, and it came as a surprise during one when I was told that they were sorry that Greece had been tarnished with such a bad reputation abroad. I really was surprised by this, obviously even though I spend most of my time in the UK, I had no knowledge of any such reporting. I did some research and found it to be wholly untrue, but disturbing, if this person thinks that, how many more do? That was it, for me, I had to do something, from there I made a point of telling everyone I met what the big picture was, how Greece was actually portrayed, and in my view the BBC did a great job by reporting the facts but balanced facts. Having that knowledge and being able to convey that to so many people in Greece I could see the relief on their faces, and then telling them how things really are in the UK yet again raised their spirits. So again for me I was pleased not only to be able to take images of places but to have the knowledge that for anyone doubting there own countries profile abroad was based upon misinformation and I would be able to correct them and give them bare facts.
And so it has continued, for me today keeping a watching brief with the occasional visit I am liking what I see, I like it even more when I am there of course, but I speak to people here about it and only today I was told by a friend they had just booked to go to Halkidiki, after seeing my images and information it has convinced them to come and see like a few have already just what I keep talking about whenever they ask me. For me that is all I want, I want more people to come to Greece, but now, not just got to the beaches, but to go inland, Ioannina, Macedonia, Chalkidiki, the Pelloponese etc, there is so much to be seen, so many stories yet to be told, so much history still to be unearthed and brought to light that I for a change want to be told of them, not to be the one to tell.
This is why I get angry when I think that here I am, just a truck driver from the UK, doing what I love by taking incredible shots, of an even more incredible country and publishing what I find, and yet the publicity I see for Greece is to say minimal a disgrace. I want to see the Greek government getting angry with me for doing there job, for if I can do it so can anyone else. The way they can get me back is to do what I do, and push Greece out into the ethrer for all to see, to show the world that this nation still has that one thing the likes of me hanker for… PRIDE!!!!
And so, back to the question, why Greece?? It is simple, Greece has always been there, and no matter what it will always be there, we just need to see a little more of it , that’s all.