Three years ago, I came across a photograph I made in Greece of olives on a branch. It wasn't an image that would stand out, but it led me to take a new look at a body of work and gave me an idea for a new book.
I spent the next year editing images from dozens of trips to the country Andrea and I have been traveling to for 25 years. Our kids have been to Greece so often that when they were younger they thought they were Greek.
My first book The Greek File / Images From a Mythic Land was published by Rizzoli in 2001 and sold well, considering it was a personal set of images done in black and white. At the time, publishers told me that the market for a book like The Greek File was miniscule -- despite the fact that the country draws over 11 million tourists a year.
My new book, Hellas Photographs of Modern Greece will be published in Fall 2010 by Hudson Hills Press. The introduction was written by Louis deBernieres, whose books include Captain Corelli's Mandolin and our favorite, Birds Without Wings. It's common in the summer for our family to be buried reading on a quiet beach in the Aegean and usually there's one or two of deBernieres' books among the pile we carry.
Book ideas are something I think about constantly, but most ideas briefly sizzle then fizzle for one reason or another. For Hellas, it wasn't until Joanna Hurley, a book agent and packager, introduced me to David Skolkin, a book designer from Santa Fe, that the project became concrete.
David, Joanna, and Leslie Van Breene from Hudson Hills Press, the publisher, came to Bedford two weeks ago to discuss, review, edit and begin to sequence the images. The advice of all three melded beautifully with my original concept for Hellas.
Watching David pair images on the viewing board in our studio was magical -- it was like watching a musical arranger work with a score. Moving small prints around and reviewing the flow beginning to end over and over for 8 hours was joy for me. deBernieres, without prompting, wrote an introduction about how Greece endured several horrendous decades of world war, civil war, military dictatorships and other crises yet went from a third world country into a proud member of the EU. This was precisely what the book was for me and as deBernieres points out, many of the people I photographed had lived through the tumultuous birth of modern Greece.
All this effort has laid the groundwork for what will be a beautifully produced volume that started with a somewhat inconsequential image but we hope will become a substanative document of a place our whole family loves.
We'll post updates on the progress of the book as well as how you can pre-order a copy along with a one of a series of limited edition print over the next few weeks.