Orestis Kourakis
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Thessaloniki Metro

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Detail of gold olive wrearth from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro @EFAPOTH

Σκοπός της φωτογράφισης Purpose of documentation

The presentation, through photographs, of the course of the Metro construction project and the archaeological significance of the plethora of finds that have come to light on the occasion of the excavations for the Thessaloniki Metro stations.

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video presentation of the photographic documentation of the stations and the artifacts of Thessaloniki Metro.
Panepistimio station - Thessaloniki Metro



Project size. The Thessaloniki Metro is the largest infrastructure project in Thessaloniki. During the photo shoot, there were dozens of building sites around the city, both above and below ground. Multiple works were carried out simultaneously in different areas and the production organization required coordination with several construction sites at the same time.

Small teracotta relief amphora with Dionysian scenes from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro ©EFAPOTH


Variety of tasks. The overall project of the Metro includes both the construction works of the stations and the infrastructure as well as the archeological works. The latter have completely different requirements as the excavation process is -by nature- irreversible. Therefore, I tried, after proper coordination, to document unique archeological works and archeological sites before they go down in history.

Number and variety of findings. From the excavations on the occasion of the Thessaloniki Metro, about 300,000 findings have come to the surface and the project has not yet been completed. The selection of the most suitable compositions as well as the exploration of the most suitable photographic way of highlighting them was the subject of a continuous dialogue with the archaeologists and extensive creative experimentation in the studio.

Venizelou station - Thessaloniki Metro - Decumanus Maximus



For the construction / excavation part

Organization of shootings in order to cover the whole range of work in all stations in a concise and descriptive way. I tried to highlight the distinct features of each station by choosing representative photos from each, in an effort to fit this huge project in just a few images. Other times, my shots depicted intense action and had more of the character of a documentary photo and other times I let the very volumes of the work start the dialogue.

I chose to apply more special techniques, such as photogrammetry and aerial panoramic photography, when I concluded that the site would benefit from them. I believe that the result fully justifies this decision, especially in the case of Ag. Sofia station where the mosaics have now been detached from the site, therefore there will be no other opportunity to document each mosaic in the condition found and produce a complete single photograph of them.

panoramic view of the photographic exhibition at Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) about Thessaloniki Metro.
snapshot from the photographic documentation of archaeological artifacts - Thessaloniki Metro


For artifacts

I experimented with different compositions and lighting setups so that the final result provides the necessary information about the artifacts but also is aesthetically pleasing.

Gold earrings with inset heads of an African man and an African woman, made of semi-precious stones from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro ©EFAPOTH


I treated each object as a "narrator" / carrier of a distinct story and tried to highlight it in such a way so as to allow it to be "told".

Marble statuette of the goddess Artemis from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro ©EFAPOTH


I applied sophisticated studio lighting techniques, usually used in other branches of photography, in order for the result to be worthy of a elegant photo album, aiming to challenge the reader to flip through it and get adequately informed but, at the same time, be pleased by its content.

Before and after images
Drag left/right the grey line to see the difference
Four gold wrearths from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro @EFAPOTH - final shot
Four gold wrearths from the excavations of Thessaloniki Metro @EFAPOTH - before shot
snapshot from the printer shop - Photo album - Thessaloniki Metro


Photographing the Thessaloniki Metro is one of the most complex projects I have undertaken, mainly due to the fact that I was asked to document a huge and diverse project in ,relatively, very few images that should both inform and stimulate the general public. In essence, I captured instants of the excavation and construction work that are unique and now permanently lost, but have been preserved in perpetuity through their photographic documentation; through the freezing of time and the documentation of their condition during the photo shooting. The need to constantly adapt to photograph a different subject and find new solutions and methods were critical challenges during this project. However, overcoming them has added new tools to my arsenal that can and will be utilised in other similar cases.

Photo album

The photographs of this project are presented in a photo album co-published in 2018 by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport - Attiko Metro S.A. and the Ministry of Culture and Sports - Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Thessaloniki.


photo album about the Thessaloniki Metro
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