Christopher Kennedy reminisces about his moment of inspiration on the sun-kissed Greek isle of Folegandros.

By Siobhan Reid
April 26, 2019
Greece, on the cover of Travel + Leisure May 2019, photographed by Christopher Kennedy
Credit: Christopher Kennedy

Whitewashed villages. Dramatic cliffs. Crystal-clear waters. Greece’s landscapes are picture-perfect as they come, hence its reputation as one of the world’s leading spots for travel photography.

London-based photographer Christopher Kennedy has crisscrossed Greece’s idyllic islands and vibrant cities so many times that the country “feels like a second home.” But the last time he visited, the T+L contributor found the destination a little too popular. “I got up to shoot the sunrise in Santorini and discovered fifty other people waiting to do the same,” he said.

So, when it came to shooting Travel + Leisure’s May 2019 cover, Kennedy traveled to the comparatively sleepy, under-the-radar Cycladic island of Folegandros in search of less obstructed views. And less obstructed views he found — though not without considerable legwork.

“Reaching the island's scenic lookout required trudging along a goat path for nearly two hours,” Kennedy told Travel + Leisure.

For the full story on how he got the shot, read on.

Travel + Leisure: When did you travel to Greece?

Christopher Kennedy: "I was there last September. It was my first time in the Cyclades and I loved it so much that I already have plans to return."

Tell us about your time in Folegandros.

"I fell in love with Folegandros. It’s so peaceful and authentic, and the locals are incredibly hospitable."

I heard you had to enlist the help of a local to capture the cover shot.

"That’s correct. On the day I arrived, I scouted a lookout point on the hill adjacent to Chora, which is this incredibly photogenic whitewashed village. But I couldn’t quite figure out how to get up there — that is, until a local shepherd came to my rescue, pointing me in the direction of a goat path. An hour-and-a-half later, I arrived at this scenic spot."

What gear did you use to snap the photo?

“I used my Canon 1DX with a 70-200 2.8 lens. Ideally, I would have used a longer, 400 mm prime lens, but lugging that up a mountain would have been too painful.

What are your best tips for capturing sunset shots?

"It’s all about preparation. Scout out the location beforehand, if possible. I also like to use an app called Sun Seeker that tells me exactly where in the sky the sun will be, at any time. Finally, give yourself lots of time. I like to get to my lookout an hour in advance, so I can decide on my approach — that way, I’m completely prepared when the light is just right."

Any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?

"I’m working on a Greek cookbook with the Greek hotelier Kimon Riefenstahl. The book is called “Kimon’s Greek Table” and will be published by teNeues early this summer. It’s the perfect resource for recreating some of the delicious dishes from your Greek holiday."