The idea of publishing a book filled with photographs taken by Instagrammers is a pleasant surprise in itself; surprising because this type of photography book is usually filled with images taken exclusively by professionals, even more so because someone realized the power of this social media platform to take users on a journey via a mobile phone.
This power is communicated through the pages of #my_greece: villages – The villages of Greece through the unique perspectives of 270 insta-photographers, published by BELL Publications. Sales proceeds will go to the Greek non-profit association Together for Children.
On the back cover of this edition, dedicated to Greece’s villages, you will find the names Giorgos Vergados and Elli Agiannidi, founding members of the Greek Instagrammers Events community, formed in August 2013.
To become a member, users did not have to be professional photographers or exclusively use Instagram. The sheer love for photography was enough. Users shared their travels using a hashtag or a tag. Just one follow or message had the potential to connect people all over Greece and motivate them to work on their hobby collaboratively.
“270 different perspectives of professional and amateur Insta-photographers were collected in this edition, evidence of the evolution of Instagram. The public is constantly developing, either through seminars or thanks to the immediacy this platform offers,” Elli Agiannidi, co-founder of the group, says.
The community has gone one step further, creating temporary photography exhibitions showcasing the images taken by members across the country, as well as content creation for local authorities to promote the beauty of Greece to tourists.
Good examples of this are the content creation projects #my_skopelos and #my_andros, both awarded with bronze medals at the Tourism Awards 2019, and #my_greece: Greece through the eyes of 270 insta-photographers, published by BELL in 2017.
This edition featuring the villages of Greece is a development of the aforementioned publication. The selection of images took place via a competition on Instagram. Thousands of photographers submitted their photos, and 270 images that showcase the authentic nature of Greece were chosen: from herds of sheep in Zitsa, Ioannina and Vitina, Arkadia, and the lavender fields Melenikitsi, Serres, to the familiar figures of people in traditional cafes in Sikinos and Crete, and images of sea sponge fishermen in Pserimos.
“These photographs convey the traditional elements of the country – the values and traditions, giving birth to a sweet nostalgia for the Greece of genuine relationships and companionship,” says Ms. Agiannidi.
For foreigners, she tells us, some of these photographs inspire surprise. The group’s temporary exhibitions open a window to the real Greece, which in turn raises questions for visitors. For instance, the image of the snow covered Nikeo School in Nimfeo prompted the question from an Austrian man at an exhibition in Heraklion: “How come it snows in Greece? There are only seas here.”
“Through the Instagram photographs they learn things they could not even imagine,” Agiannidi explains.
But how can this passion for travel posts be explained? “I like to browse through images of various parts of the world. Many times I happen to get to know Greece in this way. I am somewhere, I see a photo of a nearby village, and I will find some time to get away to experience it,” says Haris Nikolakakis, editorial manager of BELL Publishing and manager of the page Travel Drops, with 267,000 followers.
“Because the reach of Instagram goes far, this medium is one way to promote places and images we do not know about.” In fact, this is the purpose of the book. “There are 270 views of Greece enclosed in this book; small glimpses into the daily routine and people of the Greek countryside that may be familiar to each and every one of us. It is one way of discovering real life in Greece.”