For the past year I have been taking self-portraits almost exclusively. It has been a goal of mine to start shooting other people because I think at some point doing self-portraits can be rather limiting. Although I have to admit, that being both the photographer and the model has its advantages too. When Theodora asked me to take her picture of course I accepted, but right away I started feeling very nervous about it. I had no location in mind, no concept and no idea what kind of image would suit her the most. She didn’t have anything specific in mind either, so it was all on me.

I started to think about what kind of concept would be more suitable for her, because I wanted to create an image that would be somewhat representative of her as a person. I decided to shoot a more “romantic” concept, nothing too dark or creepy. Also, I had to think of something that would let her face be seen, so a bunch of ideas were rejected right away, since I usually don’t care about showing faces. Then I thought that summer is the best time to do a seaside shooting and why not use paperboats as a prop? I had a couple of different ideas about exactly what I would have her do and in the end I decided to have her stand on the shore with a boat in her hands and more boats laying on the shore close to her. Initially I had also imagined a couple boats floating in the waters but, well that did not really work out.

safe harbor

safe harbor

Theodora told me she had this fishnet dress and I thought it would be very fitting for this theme, so I asked her to wear that. My first thought about the boats was to make them out of newspapers, but they would not stand a chance near the water, so I tried making some from a magazine. I didn’t like how they looked though, so I decided to go for plain white paper and Theodora made the coloured ones. I am ashamed to admit it, but this is the first time in my life that I actually learned how to make a paperboat! It’s embarassing, I know!

As for the location, this is a small beach just outside Thessaloniki, in a place called Aggelochori (which means “the village of angels”) and as you can see, there is a lighthouse there. The thing is, when I was thinking of a location for the photoshoot, I decided to go visit the lightouse area and the beaches that are close by. I read about this lighthouse online and saw some pictures and decided that I definately wanted to check the place out because I was sure it would be a great location. You see, not only is there an old lighthouse on that cliff, but there is also an old fortress and a really great view. So on the day of the shoot, we decided to start early, so we woud have enough time to scout the area before sunset. As soon as we got there, I asked for directions to the lighthouse and the answer I got was: ” Oh, you can’t go there, because it’s a navy base and it’s close to the public. Maybe it will open next year!”. Talk about a huge disappointment! Nowhere online did it say anything like this! We headed there anyway, secretly hoping it was all a lie, only to be greeted by a huge sign reading “no entry, all photographs are prohibited”. Well, thanks a lot! It seems that a huge area around the cliff has been closed off by the navy, so there was absolutely no way we could get anywhere near the lighthouse or the fortress. Sadly we returned to the beach, where at least we could see the lighthouse from a distance.

Theodora’s photoshoot was going to be on the beach anyway, so there was no problem there. Having the lighthouse in the backgound was actually not planned, but very welcome! Luckily the sky was cloudy enough to give me the light I wanted, otherwise we would have to wait a couple of hours for the sun to set. I set up my camera, I positioned my model, and I started putting all the boats around her. I think this was the most crowded photoshoot I ever did. There was me, Theodora, a friend of hers and my boyfriend and although they were all really helpful, I was stressed. I almost forgot my ISO setting at 3200 and my focus on auto. Luckily I realised that early enough, otherwise the pictures would have been really destroyed! All in all, it was a good test for me, because I have to learn how to stay focused even when there are more people around than usual. After I had taken all the shots of Theodora that I wanted, I told everyone to throw the boats in the water so I could shoot them. It was a total disaster. Most of the boats sank right away and it just seemed like someone threw their paperwork in the sea. I think it’s better this way, because there would be too many boats everywhere and it might have been confusing.

I wasn’t sure at first about the the beam of light coming from the lighthouse, but come on! What is a lighthouse with no light, right?

This is my first post for 2014, so I want to wish you all a great new year, filled with happy moments! This time of year, we all get to make goals and new beginnings. In that spirit, I made a facebook page for my photography on New Year’s day. This was something I had in mind for some time now, but I always left it for later. Although I have been uploading my pictures to various websites, I was reluctant to upload them on facebook because I wasn’t sure I wanted the attention. I have many friends on facebook, not too many I think, but of course there are a lot of people among them who like to hide behind their computer screen and pass judgement on their facebook “friends”. Well, that can happen on any website, but I think facebook is different because at some point I have met my facebook friends in person. So that is why I have been reluctant so far, but I finally decided to do it and stop caring about what others might say or think. I suppose that is the best choice for everyone after all.

During the holidays I had some days off to go and see my family. I had really missed them and my hometown, too. I live in the northern part of Greece (Thessaloniki) and my hometown (Mesologi) is about 500km away, so it’s not very easy for me to visit as often as I would want. I enjoyed spending time with them, especially my two nephews! Another thing I enjoyed was spending my afternoons looking for places to shoot. Mesologi is full of them, since it is a very beautiful place and I have taken hundreds of pictures there before. But this time I wanted to find quiet places that could fit my concepts. So I started looking for different places than the ones I had photographed in the past. I ended up going  somewhere I had never been before. I still can’t understand how I could have missed this. Mesologi is very small, there are not many places to go, but still managed to discover something new.

It is a narrow road that goes through the lagoon and leads to some fish farms. After you drive for a while, you run out of asphalt. That is where I stopped and got out of my car. The place is so calm and peacuful and beautiful. All you can hear are the birds and whichever way you look, there is the sea. The only people that go there are fishermen and birdwatchers. Oh, and young couples of course.

scouting mesologi - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

There was a light rain and wind when I got there but I decided to take a few shots anyway, so I set up my tripod and after five or six clicks there was a bang… and my tripod had fallen down. With my camera on it. When I picked it up I saw that a screw from the lens was loose. I fixed it when I got home and it seemed to work, but some days later I realised that the autofocus was not working correctly, so I had to open it again and hope I could do something better. Don’t ask me how, but I think I fixed it now. We’ll see I suppose…

So the next day (this was Christmas day) I went there again and it wasn’t windy this time. I did my first shoot and when I was happy with it, I thought why not do a second shoot at the lovely old boat I had spotted earlier. Unfortunately when I got there, there was a couple in a car nearby, so I thought maybe it would be better to give them some privacy. I was planning to go back with my sister the next day, but rain got in the way. Then it was time for me to leave for Thessaloniki, so sadly I only have this one picture so far. I don’t know when will be the next time I visit, but the only thing that’s sure is that I will go back to this road and shoot more. I am officialy in love with it!


As promised my scouting adventures continue, this time including mythical creatures and cursed weddings!

About 40km away from my home, there is a small village called Nymfopetra. The name (which translates “Stone of the nymph”) was given to the village because of some strange rock formations that exist there. I don’t know why I had never heard about it before, but as soon as I stumbled upon it on the internet I knew I had to go there. Especially when I found out about the myth surrounding the place.



Legend has it that once upon a time a group of hunters came across some beautiful forest nymphs who were taking their bath in a lake. The men hid there to watch them but by doing so they infuriated the goddess of the hunt, Artemis, who turned them into stone for their disrespect.

scouting nymfopetra - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs


However there is also another myth, about a wedding that was not meant to be. On her wedding day a young arrogant girl, took all her mother’s belongings for her new home, leaving her with nothing. While the bridal company were on their way to the wedding, the mother realised what her daughter had done and she cursed her, turning everyone that was with her into stone. Blood wedding indeed!

scouting nymfopetra - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

Of course there is also a scientific explanation, something to do with sandstone rocks, but who cares about that? I say myths are way more interesting.

The rocks are at the edge of the village and the surrounding area has been turned into a lovely little park. When we got there, there was no one else around, despite the fact that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I suppose there are not a lot of people who know about this place. I think it’s a great place for a quick trip and most of all it is a great place for a photoshoot! Don’t you think?

scouting nymfopetra - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

scouting nymfopetra - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

scouting nymfopetra - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs



Since I still have no new images to share with you, I thought I’d give you an update about what else I’ve been doing lately. I have made a list of interesting places near where I live, that I have started visiting. My goal is to start shooting outdoors at some point, so I want to scout the locations and see how they inspire me. So far I’ve visited three of the places on my list.

The first place I went to was around 30km from where I live. This lake has a very sad story. For decades the lake’s water has been used excessively to water the surrounding fields which combined with massive pollution from adjacent industries led to the lake eventually drying. Today it has almost no water left. Legal action was taken and people were held responsible for neglecting the issue for years, but it was too late and the ecological disaster remains massive. So I thought I should head over there and see what is going on with my own eyes and maybe do a series of pictures inspired by the lake’s tragedy. After consulting google maps, I woke up one Sunday morning and drove to the village I thought was closest to the lake. When I arrived, I went at the place where a park was supposed to be, only the place seemed abandoned and I could see no way to access the lake. I continued driving, made my way on dirt roads through the fields in hopes that somehow I could get closer, but with no luck. I finally decided to circle the lake’s area with my car, convinced that there had to be some kind of road getting me closer. To cut a long story shot, my quest was unsuccesful. The closer I got was the markings of where the water once was, which was still very far out. I could see where I wanted to go, but I could see no road to take me there. Finally I realised that the only way to get there would be to leave my car at the nearest spot possible and continue on foot. But I decided to leave that adventure for another day. Although I did not do what I set off to do, I enjoyed this little adventure, because it was an opportunity for me to get better acquainted with that particular area. Here is a picture from the lake, that I found on flickr by Maria Nikolaidou (maybe I should ask her how she got there, ha ha)

The second place I went to, is a place I pass by every day going to work. An army camp that has been abandonded for many years now. It is an historical site, because during the nazi occupation of Greece it was used as a concetration and torture camp. Well after that it was just an army camp! Since the army left, there has been interest to make it into a big park which would be really nice for the area, but some kind of legal conflicts made it impossible so far. The last few years the space has been used to hold musical festivals and stuff like that. Its buildings though have been left to rot since no one took care of them, resulting in vandalising. So one day after work I decided to go and take a look to see if maybe I could do a photoshoot there sometime. Here are some pictures from that day, taken with my phone since I had left my camera at home!


interior from one of the camp’s old buildings. this is the ground floor. the first floor is almost completely destroyed and I was afraid to go up there, it did not look safe at all.


many of the buildings are missing their roofs, like this one

upstairs? no thank you!

scouting pavlou mela - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

I suppose this was once a fountain. I think it still is beautiful.

scouting pavlou mela - fine art portraits by Nicki Upstairs

another one of the roof-less buildings, this one seemed recently burnt down.

I think a photoshoot at this place would be great and I have alredy started to plan it in my mind. Although I definately want to bring someone with me when I do it, because the place is easily accessible by anyone, including several creepy looking people, so I would not want to go there shooting all on my own.

There is one more great place I already visited, but I think I’ ll leave this story (which includes a local myth about a wedding gone wrong!) for another time.