The Greek islands are of course bustling with life in the summer months, as millions of visitors come to enjoy their sunshine, natural beauty and the hospitality of their people. But what happens there in the winter months is for most people a mystery. Photographer Panagiotis Kalkavouras is a resident of Paros, and he well knows what the island looks like through all the seasons. "People barely have a visual impression of what the Greek islands look like from October to May", he tells me. "Paros for example is transformed in the winter months, after the locals have returned to their normal pace of life and nature is green after the first rainfall." This other side of Paros Panagiotis has captured through his photographic and video work, which opens a window to breathtaking vistas of tempestuous seas, cloud-capped mountains and a palette of greys and silvers that would make any Icelandic photographer jealous.
Photography has been Panagiotis's profession since 2005, and he has participated in exhibitions such as the annual Antiparos International Photography Festival: "If you consider how this festival first started, it's a miracle that it's growing at such a pace." Participating was an unforgettable experience, both because of the generosity of the organisers and the volunteers, but also because of the picturesque castle where the festival takes place." For Panagiotis, photography is all about telling a story, and his work is usually capturing emotions and psychological states through landscape and nature photography, or by taking photos that are on the very edge of human activity like pastures and rural construction sites. Originally from Messinia, a region in the Peloponnese famous for its olive oil, Panagiotis is also active as an olive farmer, a profession he enthusiastically keeps alongside his photographic commissions.
“Photography is storytelling, and just like every story, so photography is subjective. The creator uses thought, emotion and his experiences to give images and stories that look real. The need for creating and telling such stories is what makes me photograph.”
Panagiotis used to visit Paros often for holidays. But after his partner went through a health challenge, they were encouraged to change their environment and lifestyle. That's why in 2014 they moved to Paros, and had to adapt to the life of a Greek island, with its busy, cosmopolitan summers and slow, isolated winters. It was around this time that Panagiotis created a photographic series and video titled 'Acclimatisation', which evidently speaks about the challenge of settling down in a foreign place and trying to embrace it as your new home. Two years since his change of setting, he now seems more comfortable in his new home and encourages people to visit the island in the off-season months: "There are obvious reasons to visit Paros and Antiparos, but travelers should also seek out local traditions and history by exploring the many paths and villages. I would also strongly suggest that they opt for a visit to the two islands during low season."
“The landscape of Paros and Antiparos is flat and without any high mountains. That gives you the sense you’re constantly by the sea, which is a feeling I find unique.”