Dimitris Talianis photographs the harbors of Greece

Large-format, bilingual volumes profusely illustrated with color photographs devoted to aspects of Greek life, landscape or culture have become a mainstay of the Greek book market. A recent addition to the growing array comes from Topio Publications, a pioneer in the field when it started in 1987. Showcasing the work of photographer Dimitris Talianis, Topio’s list now boasts some 30 such books, as well as boxed sets including music CDs. All are on Greek subjects, most devoted to individual places – Santorini, Kasos, Patmos and Crete – or to themes, such as the seasons or olives in Greece or the cuisine of the Aegean, while others marry fine photographs to verse by eminent Greek poets: works by Elytis in «Orientations» and Seferis in «Rust and Brine.» «The Greek Harbours» is the latest in the series. Talianis brings technical skill and enthusiasm to this exhaustive record of Greek harbors great and small and the working and pleasure vessels that ply them. At times one wishes for more than strictly documentary shots that might have escaped from a shipping catalog or the conventionally pretty views that thousands of postcards have spoiled us for. Novelist Panos Theodoridis contributed a prologue and commentary on the photographs in the kind of flowery language that can work well in Greek but poses a challenge to translators. Geoffrey Cox has made a manful effort. A more straightforward historical overview of Greek harbors and a chapter on the art of the Greek sailor by navy captain and writer Anastasios Tzamtzis adds valuable information and context.