About 10 days ago I flew to Thessaloniki, Greece to meet with street photographer Yiannis Yiasaris. I was really looking forward to meeting Yiannis, because we have been communicating online for more than a year now, getting to know each other as photographers and as people. So it felt as if I was going to see a friend I hadn’t seen in years! I hadn’t been to Thessaloniki since 1997 and it was as beautiful as I remembered it, if not more. It is the second largest city of Greece after Athens and in my opinion the most interesting. The people are friendly and welcoming and they love anything concerning arts and culture, be it photography, music, design – anything that can spark creativity. The wider metropolitan area is nearly 1,000,000 people while the actual municipality of Thessaloniki is around 400,000. So, it has the ideal amount of people to class it as a city, but not an overcrowded faceless one. You will get a chance to see parts of the city in the Street Hunt video we recorded. I am sure that you will enjoy the tasks Yiannis and I set ourselves as well as the views of the seafront.
When Will The Video Be Ready?
As alway, an average Street Hunt video takes about 3 weeks to complete. I have already processed the photographs and now I have to start working on the video. Due to lack of free time, I will possibly need all of those 3 weeks before the video is ready. So, if you would like to have a date in mind for the release of the next Street Hunt video, estimate somewhere around the 16th of March.
So What Is This Post About?
Through this post I wish to share with you the experiences I had when I was in Thessaloniki. I will write about the things I did during the time I was there. Before I continue though I would say a special thanks to everyone that helped make this experience unforgettable.
Special Thanks To Yiannis Yiasaris
Yiannis Yiasaris is a Greek Street Photographer from Thessaloniki who has been living in Melbourne, Australia for more than 10 years now. He visits his home town every once in awhile to get back to his roots. He is a natural Thessalonikian, something that only a Greek can understand. He is connected with his city and his city is connected with him, so naturally I had the best possible guide to show me around town. Yiannis made sure to give me the time of my life, show me the best places for a good beer in Thessaloniki and also accommodated me for 2 nights. Thank you man, it was a very intense, creative and adventurous weekend that I will never, ever forget!
Special Thanks to All the New Friends I Made
While I was in Thessaloniki I met many wonderful people. People that put a smile on my face and made me feel welcome and all warm and fuzzy inside. I would like to thank Nikos Vukiklarakis for buying what was the best sandwich in town and giving me a night tour of the city, Victoria Panagiotidou for being a positive and inspiring person, with tremendous inner strength whom I now consider a good friend, George Emmanouilidis for being such a wonderful guy with a great taste in music and Thomas Papathanasiou and the team at Focus FM for inviting me for a live interview at the radio station! Thanks also to Matoula Andreou whom I only met for 1 hour but was such a joyful person and sweet girl that I will never forget her and Fanis Vassiliou, one of the Streethunters.net Readers who bumped into me and Yiannis by accident and instantly introduced himself to us and of course took our picture! And thanks to many many more Thessalonikians who just accepted me for what I am, an annoying person with a flash, without complaining about my eccentric habit of flashing everyone in their faces upon introduction. Thank you all!
Day 1 – 12/02/2016
I took the morning flight from Chania to Thessaloniki and arrived around noon on the 12th of February. Luckily the weather was good and that made me feel even more excited to hit the streets. I called Yiannis and he told me where to meet, so off I went. 30 minutes later we were drinking coffee in one of the local coffee shops in Yiannis’ neighbourhood.
We were about to hit the streets when it started to rain, so we took my things back to his place and from there drove to a rock bar at the city seafront and relaxed while the weather changed. I relaxed having a couple of Guinness. As soon as the weather cleared up, we hit the streets and I begun to get my first vibes from the city. I was very excited, maybe overly excited to be shooting in a big city after so long that I think I made Yiannis uncomfortable when I decided to use using my flash! I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and my camera was firing away constantly. I think it took me at least a couple of hours to relax and start shooting at a normal pace and that is when I begun making some acceptable photographs.
It was about then when Yiannis and myself stopped for a souvlaki and a beer. Once we had refuelled we walked up some other streets Yiannis recommended, made some more photographs and just enjoyed being street hunters! As afternoon passed and evening approached, we returned to that little rock bar and had a couple more beers. That is where I met Thomas Papathanasiou from Focus FM, a charming guy with an enthusiasm for photography. I shared my passion for flash street shooting with him and enjoyed his surprised expression when I showed him how I approached people in the street. At one point, (I don’t remember when exactly) we decided to leave and to go to another bar. I was a visitor, so I just went with the flow! Yiannis recommended we go to another rock bar that served only Greek beers. The 2 basic keywords had been spoken, rock music and beer so I was in! Once at Avgoustos bar we went nuts with the flash, met a bunch of awesome new people and just had a great time! That is where I met Nikos and George, the guys I mentioned before. After having a blast, Nikos and myself left Avgoustos to go for a sandwich, which turned out to be the best one I have ever had.
We had agreed to meet Yiannis and the rest of the group back at the first rock bar. So, after our snack we went to that bar but soon had to leave because a brawl broke out and we didn’t want our gear to get smashed. We observed for a while and then went to another bar called Thermaikos. Once we arrived there, I started feeling tired. I think it was 03:00 at this time and all my excitement had depleted me. At one point as I was walking back from the men’s room, I thought I could sleep while walking for a second or two and I tried to calculate when to open my eyes so I wouldn’t fall over. What a stupid thought! Of course I didn’t open my eyes in time, I practically sleep walked and I crashed into a girl, headfirst. She was graceful enough to smile and say it is ok. I replied by saying that I didn’t mean to rush into things :-). Even asleep my brain was still working… Anyway, Yiannis noticed me and thought it would be best for us to leave and that was the end of day 1!
Day 2 – 13/02/2016
As you can imagine we didn’t wake up at 08:00 for the Street Hunt the next day. It was something more like 11:00 by the time we had got ready and grabbed a bite. We arrived at the starting point for the Street Hunt at noon and started off slowly. We both had a slight hangover from the previous night, but we were on a mission and that mission was an important one. So, we started the Street Hunt and walked all over Thessaloniki, discussing photography, gear and other interesting things about the city while shooting and having a lovely time.
As I usually do, I will not expand on the day of the Street Hunt in this first post, I will write all the details about this day when the video is ready. But what I would like to share with you all today is that the Street Hunt day was interesting, we met new people, enjoyed a lovely time at Focus FM and then ended our recording just before the end of the afternoon. After that, we both thought that it would be a great idea to head home, crack open some beers and spend the rest of the evening looking through our photos and processing them. We concluded the evening watching the raw footage of the Street Hunt video and making comments on various parts of it. Saturday the 13th was a creative day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Day 3 – 14/02/2016
My time in Thessaloniki on Day 3 was very short. I had to grab the noon flight back to Crete, so I said my goodbyes in the morning, grabbed a cab and zoomed off to the airport. There is nothing really exciting to write about this day, but I can say for sure that I had a wonderful feeling. The two previous days were full of unforgettable experiences and that gave me a sense of satisfaction.
I recommend all of you dear Readers to visit Thessaloniki at least once in your lifetime to shoot street photography. As I mentioned in the beginning it is a beautiful place with welcoming people and that really enjoy culture and art. As for the characters in the street, well, just like every big city, there are plenty. As with all Greek cities, Thessaloniki is very safe and there is nothing to worry about. When you visit, try and spend at least 3 to 5 days there. Explore the seafront and the inner parts of the city where things are more gritty. I would say that the best time to be here is in spring, since it tends to be a tad chilly in the winter and rain is not uncommon. Summer might be too hot, because that is how it is all over Greece, so I would recommend spring.
In 3 weeks the Thessaloniki Street Hunt will be ready and you will see what an amazing time we had and how nice Thessaloniki is for Street Photography. Until then…
Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!