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A blast from the past

The idea had been twirling in my mind for a very long time. I was trying to find old photos from the area of Ermionida. After many visits to Porto Heli and long chats with the local old men, it became clear that my man was Constantinos Zogas.

Constantinos, what’s the history behind the photographic archive of the area? The archive belonged to my godfather, Stefos Alexandris. The Alexandris family moved to Spetses after the catastrophe of Asia Minor. In 1926 Stefos was born., When he grew up, he decided to leave the island and set up residence in Kranidi, despite the fact that his brother had already started up a photographic studio in Spetses. He opened a shop specializing in gifts and glassware and, at the same time, operated a photographic studio in the same space. Photography was his passion and so, around 1955, he began to take photos and igradually created a unique record that has been preserved up to today. He met my father and they not only became work partners, but also relatives. Thus, from 1962 onwards, Spiros Zogas started to enrich the archive with his photos too.

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What does this particular archive include? The archive consists of hundrends of thousands of photos. From glass plates up to medium format negatives. It is sorted according to location and chronology. Stefos Alexandridis used to photograph everything. A big part of the archive comprises of the area’s landscapes. Porto Heli, Kranidi, Ermioni, Kilada, Fournoi. Another part comprises of the activities that used to take place in the area. Weddings, feasts, processions, meetings everything is chronologically classified. Alexandridis was the only photographer of the area, so he attended every single social, ecclesiastic, archeological, cultural and political event, and immortalized it with his camera. Spetses is not included in the archive, since his brother was in charge there. Also, we have retro retro discovered glass plates with photos of Spetses, but we haven’t been able to digitalize them yet.

How do you think that such an important archive should be utilized? First of all, we want to digitalize the archive. Our goal is to have it done by the end of 2011. It’s not an easy task, the expenses are huge and of course the state and local government aren’t helping in the maintenance of the archive. When the digitalization is complete, we will organize several exhibitions in Ermionida and proceed with the issuance of a series of albums, in which the course of the area will be presented. And you know, this is what’s most fascinating about the archive.  If you look at photos of Porto Heli in the 50s, you won’t recognize it. You will think it is a different city. In Alexandridis’ photos there’s not even a street, the semicircle that you now see below the port is nothing but dirt road and pine trees.

With the pretext of the archive, are there any other projects for Ermionida? Like I said, my goal is to digitalize the archive. Apart from that, I think that it would be an honor for all of us, individually and collectively, if an edition dedicated exclusively to the area was created, so that all the local residents, and not only, could keep as a memento. Being acquainted with our ancestors and with the lifestyle and political, athletic and social conditions of our land would be an honor for all of us.

Among the thousands of photos, is there one in particular that you prefer? I always have the photo of my godfather on my desk. Among the thousands of photos, the ones that I find particularly interesting are the following: the one with Dimitris Papamichail and Aliki Vougiouklaki in a café in Porto Heli, the one with Sophia Vembo in Porto Heli and the one with the former king Constantine as a child, when he often visited the area with the royal family for his summer holiday

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