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CREDIT: Charana Jayasuriya

The Doors of Hydra by Charana Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka)

A flying visit to the picturesque and colourful Greek island of Hydra.

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The absence of hoofs led to a project on the hoof

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Tell us about the project?

The island village of Hydra is considered one of the most beautiful in Greece. It takes the shape of an amphitheatre on a slope overlooking a small port filled with boats and ringed by shops and cafes. The village is a maze of cobblestone alleys, tiny squares, small whitewashed cottages and stone mansions that rise up the hills. The absence of vehicles and reliance on donkeys for transport preserves the rustic charm.


Hydra is the closest of the famed Greek isles to Athens, a four-hour round trip by ferry from Piraeus but the winter timetable allows less than three hours on the island. Due to the short duration it was not my intention to visit, however at the last minute I decided to swap museum visits in Athens for a trip to Hydra. It was planned less than twelve hours prior to departing armed with only a single sheet of information.


I knew some of the most photogenic locations such as the Monastery of Profitis Illias were out of reach and during the ferry journey I was thinking of the best way to capture a sense of place in a short time. The initial idea was to focus on people going about their daily chores with donkeys and mules. Leaving the port, it became apparent there were few people or donkeys during winter. The distinct absence of hoofs forced me to improvise a project on the hoof.


Walking the narrow alleys, the bright, colourful and well-maintained doors stood out against the white walls and a project idea was formed. I set myself the goal of photographing multi-coloured and shaped doors framed by different textures of walls.


What did you learn while doing the project?

Faced with a time constraint it focuses the mind to have a project or goal to achieve. It would have been easy to spend a couple of hours taking tourist photographs of Hydra. Instead, I stayed focused on the project and allowed myself to become lost in the tiny alleys and stumble upon colourful doors.


I am usually a meticulous planner for travel photography. On this occasion I went off google maps with no set plan or route and allowed the eye to lead me with excellent results. It was an invigorating experience to work on a dynamic and time-limited micro project.


Any tips or lessons you can share?

Although, preparation is essential for creating great photographs, it’s important to improvise and adapt to the situation. I only saw a small area of Hydra and did not visit some of the most photogenic places. However, I was able to create a series of images that enable me to share a sense of place and abiding memories of Hydra.


I will continue with micro projects on future travels by setting myself a time-limited goal.


Is the project complete and how do you feel about the result?

Yes, the project was completed in two hours. I am honoured to be published on The RPS website.


What next?

I’m eagerly looking forward to the ability to travel freely again.