Voula Papaioannou (1898-1990) studied under photographer Panos Yeralis and worked as a photographer from the mid 1930s to the mid 1960s. She started by taking shots of museum exhibits, antiquities and landscapes, but after Greece entered WWII and during the German occupation she began recording civilian life in Athens, documenting the horrors of war in searing photographs of famine. In the Greek Civil War (1947-49) she photographed the devastated countryside, harsh living conditions and attempts at reconstruction.
From 1950 on, often as a member of the Greek Photographic Society, she helped shape the post-war image of Greece as it appeared in tourism publications and volumes of photography. Her books La Grece a ciel ouvert and Iles Greques, both from the Swiss publisher Clairefontaine / Guide du Livre, made her work known outside Greece.
In 1976, Papaioannou donated her work to the Benaki Museum’s Photographic Archive, which has brought her new attention and appreciation over the past 20 years.