GREECE - 365 days and 6000 miles ago
Updated: Feb 5
Woohoo! The start of my long-overdue blog, which I think I'll call a 'journal' for the sake of being just a tad different ;) The intention is to use this space to share behind-the-scenes looks at photo shoots, random collections of film photos I take of adventures and everyday life, and travel photos and stories. Today just happens to be the one-year anniversary of the day I left on one of my favorite trips ever, visiting Greece with some of my favorite ladies -- so I thought I'd reminisce and share some photos here to immortalize the incredible adventures that were had.
One of my favorite things about this trip will always be how I ended up on it in the first place. In March of 2021, I did a shoot with a friend of a friend of a friend named Sarah, who brought along her best pal Carli. I immediately bonded with these two babes, who are just as fun and hilarious as they are beautiful. A few weeks later Carli called me up and asked, "Wanna go to Greece with us this summer?" I said "SAY LESS" and the rest was history. Some may say it's crazy that we barely knew each other before spending two full weeks traveling together across the world, but I say that there's no better way to become fast friends than through sharing these wild, once in a lifetime experiences. And as a photographer, it was a full-body YES for me to summer in Europe with two models who were down for all of my crazy photo ideas (more below).
After 3 long flights, we landed in Athens and immediately jumped on a ferry to our first destination, Mykonos. The open decks of the ferry were a godsend after a full 24 hours of stuffy airports and stale airplane air. It was golden hour, the water was sparkling, a giant Greek flag was flapping overhead, and we had the whole trip in front of us. Nothing beats that just-landed-in-a-foreign-country feeling, amiright? So many surprises, adventures, and possibilities ahead... I live for that feeling.
Admittedly, I barely took out my camera on Mykonos. We were acclimating to the time change, spending hours by the pool, eating our faces off, and doing as one does in this famous party city - staying up till all hours, bar hopping and dancing in the (whitewashed, adorably cobbled) streets. It was really the perfect place to kick things off, and ride that just-landed high for as long as possible.
Thoroughly exhausted and ready to slow things down a bit, our next ferry dropped us off on the island of Milos, an idyllic little slice of Mediterranean paradise with over 70 beaches. We beelined straight for the otherworldly white volcanic rock beach that is synonymous with Milos - Sarakiniko Beach. This place truly makes you question which planet you are standing on (disregarding the fellow tourists, of course). The rolling white cliffs against the turquoise sea mirrors the white and blue of the Greek flag and is truly a photographer's paradise.
AND THEN, as if this place could get any cooler, we stumbled upon a freaking network of old pirate caves carved into the rocks. Literally stumbled upon, as in, walked past a human-sized hole in the rock, peered in, and, disregarding any lizard brain alarms warning not to walk into the dark cave, walked into the dark cave. It was incredible and only a little creepy - for all the tourists that were out on the beach, there was no one but us in here. The entrance to the cave network let just enough light in to illuminate a subject and the crazy erosion patterns on the walls and ceiling - making for some quite dramatic images that give "Lost" vibes for days. A local told us later that the caves were used as hideouts by pirates hundreds of years ago. Wild.
One of the best decisions we made in Milos was renting four-wheelers so we could explore the more remote parts of the island. Zipping around on those things was so dang fun, and the best way to take in the miles of olive trees, rural homes and farms, and rocky desert landscape that reminded us quite a bit of New Mexico! If New Mexico were surrounded by a bright blue sea on all sides, that is. Sarah drove so I could ride on the back with my camera and take pictures. It was a fun exercise in reflexes, because as soon as I saw something I wanted to take a picture of, we were about to pass it. Fast shutter speed and getting a little trigger happy was the name of the game, and I love the meandering, snapshot-y feel of these images. They bring me right back to those blissful days getting lost with the wind in our hair, laughing and shouting at each other over the sound of the engine, wondering how we got so lucky to live this life.
During one of my late-night Pinterest sessions researching the best photo spots on Milos, I learned about a "secret beach" that was on a remote side of the island and could only be reached either by boat, or by climbing down a cliff face with a series of ladders and ropes. This is the part where my friends really showed up for my photographer's itch and followed me trustingly into a semi-sketchy situation. We found the cliff, and the first ladder dropped us down into a little crack between the huge rocks that made up the cliff face. The only way to reach the next ladder was to hold onto a fraying rope and inch ourselves through this tiny, sloped crevice with the rock crumbling beneath our feet. All we could see at the other end of the crevice was the ocean, and what we knew was a sheer drop off. We all nervous-laughed our way through it, but it certainly made us all very uneasy, our sweaty palms clinging to an old rope for dear life. The next ladder was about three times as tall as the first, and nearly vertical to get down to the beach. We were so close, and excitement and adrenaline took over as I scrambled down this last ladder, feigning chill about it to boost my pals' confidence about this last stretch of the journey.
Finally at the bottom, we were all elated to have made it to this incredible hidden cove that we had all to ourselves. All thoughts of the rest of the world faded away and it was just us laughing and running around naked on this beach as if we'd just crawled out of the ocean and discovered how much fun having legs is. These are definitely my favorite photos of the trip, not only because my friends look like they belong in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but because of the memories attached to them. The high-risk-high-reward moments, the curiosity and courage that we muster in ourselves to reach these wild places, and the experiences that are so unexpected and crazy that I couldn't forget them if I tried... these are the things I love about traveling.
Sarakiniko was gorgeous in the bright midday sun, but as soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew we needed to go back for sunset photos. I wanted to see what colors those rocks would turn in the glow of the sun fading behind the horizon, and I wanted to be a bit more intentional with subject and composition. I asked Sarah and Carli to wear something bold and flowy that would stand out against the scenery, and loved what they each chose. We hiked up to the top layers of the curved rocks - not an easy task - to get the vantage point of the entire beach, which from up here stretched on forever and looked even more like the surface of the moon. I asked them to wander slowly, follow the lines in the rocks, and look out to sea - my goal was for the elements of water, wind, curved rock and hazy light to be the subjects just as much as the models. I love how these turned out and the feeling of ethereal calm I get when I look at them.
Gooodness, I miss this place. The gorgeous landscapes, the hospitality of the locals, insanely delicious and fresh food for every meal, and the moments shared with these ladies are not something I could ever forget. This trip will forever live rent-free in my head as a reminder of just how important spontaneity, curiosity, and adventure are to me, and the treasures that can come from saying yes and letting the rest fall into place later.
And it felt so good to challenge myself to evoke memories with words here, and not just images as I am so accustomed to. If you've made it this far, thank you for entertaining my brain dump of nostalgia and photo nerd tings.
Till next time,