This week’s featured project takes us on a very cool adventure with Marco Petrini of Petrini Studio. Marco is a New York City-based architect and architectural photographer. During a recent trip to Crete, Greece, for a photography assignment and vacation, Marco came across the abandoned Dionysos village, which he decided to photograph.
He explains, “‘Dionysos’ near Sitia, Crete, was an ambitious settlement project initiated by the SOE company in the late 1990s. However, disputes and environmental issues, such as excessive garbage on Analouka Beach, led to its downfall. Today, as depicted in the photos, the village is nearly deserted, with a few residents and apparent squatters occupying some properties.”
I asked Marco what it was like to be at Dionysos and he shared “Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, given the limited information available online about this place, and truthfully, I wasn’t even looking for it. I stumbled upon it while exploring the area on Google Earth in search of something interesting, and this unexpected discovery left me feeling a little intimidated (a huge, abandoned village in the middle of nowhere!). But I decided to pay it a visit.”
“Upon my arrival, I began to wander around, and the sound of distant voices and some old, rusty cars parked here and there, indicated the presence of people, but I wasn’t sure about my safety, since I was alone and I had my gear with me (camera, lenses, drone, etc.)” Marco explains.
He continues, “Believe it or not, it turned out some of these houses (although very few) were still inhabited, and I didn’t want to intrude too heavily. Therefore, although I would have loved to set up my tripod and capture multiple exposures and different compositions, I opted for handheld photography.
I dedicated nearly two hours to exploring the village, including the drone footage.”
Despite just being a quick personal project, I really appreciate Marco’s use of strong shadows and highlights, which help liven the place up a bit, and pull out the colors and textures found throughout the village.
My favorite thing about this project is that the pictures have the architectural equivalent of the “uncanny valley” effect to them. From far away the village looks pretty normal, but the closer you look the more clues you see that it is deserted and that something is not quite right.
The juxtaposition between the cheerful colors, playful lines, dynamic light, and the conditions of the village is really interesting to see.
“The strong wind and rapidly changing sky/light conditions added something magical to the experience. I had to continuously change my settings as the light transitioned from harsh highlights/deep shadows to completely overcast. This allowed me to capture the space in several ways, which I found truly intriguing,” Marco notes.
I was curious to know how much effort Marco put into “cleaning things up” whether that be on-site or in post-production – or if Marco left things as they appeared. He explains, “The photos faithfully represent the space as it is; I purposely refrained from any post-processing removal or cleaning. Instead, I made only essential adjustments in Lr (cropping, transforming, exposure, white balance, contrast, colors). My goal was to convey the genuine and unaltered reality of this place in its raw, natural state.”
He recounts, “At one point, I noticed someone approaching me, but I couldn’t decipher her intentions… She began to talk to me in Greek, and while I couldn’t understand what she was saying, from the tone of her voice it was clear that I was not welcome there, prompting my decision to leave.
Navigating my way out was challenging, given the overgrown plants and winding paths (almost like a labyrinth, you can see it clearly from the aerial shots). I got a little anxious, but ultimately, I managed to find my way out.”
I asked Marco what lessons he learned along the way. Marco said, “Trust your instincts. When I first came across this place on Google Earth, I was uncertain whether the three-hour drive would be worthwhile. However, the lack of information online piqued my curiosity. I’m glad that I ultimately made the decision to visit!”
From this view, it’s almost impossible to tell that Dionysos Village is in its derelict state. “Everything looks perfect from far away,” eh?!
A massive thanks to Marco for submitting this cool personal project to us!
In addition to this fun personal project, Marco’s portfolio sports some truly lovely commissioned work that you should absolutely check out. You can see more of Marco’s work at petrinistudio.com and on Instagram @patrinistudio! Thanks again Marco!
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.