Costas Balafas is one of the most important Greek photographers, and his depiction of rural life, World War 2, and the civil war have not only documented some of the most important periods in modern Greek history but are also stunnign example of photojournalism and art. He was born in 1920 in a small mountain village in Western Greece and as a child moved to Athens to work. His first contact with the camera, a Kodak Brownie, was at the age of 13, when his boss took him along on a trip so he could take tourist photos of the boss and his american relatives. Aquiring a camera became his dream, which was fulfiled a few years later, after lots of saving. Next, while studying in Italy, a friend taught him to use the darkroom. After being active through many years, and incredible situations he died in 2011.
The significance of Balafas rich work is obvious. He was one of the very few fearless photographers who accompanied troops during the war and managed to capture history at the making. The attrocities of the war, but also the immortal human flame are photographed up close, with respecting honesty, lacking unnecessary drama. His black and white prints are a masterpiece each. Whether depicting customs, monks, starving children, or just sheep, his photographs are the work of a real master. It is good that the archive of his work is enormous because it’s impossible to stop craving for more. Fast and courageous, nothing could stop him once he wanted a photo, often hiding his camera to achieve the desired result and go by unseen. His photographs are history as much as personal stories of the people depicted, and real works of art.