by Yannis Kolesidis

An escape to one of the smaller, hard-to-get-to Greek islands is a coveted holiday destination for Greeks and foreigners alike. Each summer, their untouched landscapes, crystal-clear waters and traditional villages play host to thousands of visitors. But what happens to these quaint locales come winter, when all the tourists are gone? Things look very different when the summer’s spotlight fades.

“I often remember saying “how nice it would be to live in such a place” every time I returned from my summer holidays on an island. In November 2017, accompanying a mission of military doctors to the barren islands on a Navy ship, I visited Folegandros. It had been only a few years since I had visited the same island in summer. It was several hours before I discovered that the deserted square where I was standing was the same square I had chosen as a meeting and entertainment spot on those holidays.
So I wanted to document the difficulties and the difference in the way and quality of life of island people in places we are used to seeing only in the summer light.”

Yiannis Kolesidis, photojournalist

The population plummets and most of these islands are left with less than 100 permanent residents. Ferry routes dwindle, sometimes to just once a week. And when gusty winter storms arrive, boats can remain docked at port for weeks on end, cutting islanders off from the rest of the country.

At times like this, daily life can become extremely harsh.