For a proud Greek with a young daughter, the refugee crisis had a profound effect on Behrakis, causing guilt, insomnia and nightmares.
But it also brought out the best in a photographer who focused on the dignity of humans in distress rather than making them objects of pity.
Triandafyllou was with Behrakis when he took what many consider to be one of his best pictures - of a Syrian refugee carrying and kissing his daughter as he walked down a road in the rain.
"That morning we left the hotel and it was raining and Yannis was complaining," Triandafyllou recalled.
"On the way to the border we saw these refugees and he started taking pictures. After a while I said 'OK, let's go'. He said 'No, no, wait, I don't have the picture.' I was waiting in the car and he eventually came back and said 'OK, I have the picture.' He was looking for this picture."
Behrakis' description of the image was typically unorthodox.
"I would love to be this father; I think every child would love to have a father like this," he explained.
"This picture proves that there are superheroes after all. He doesn't wear a red cape, but he has a black plastic cape made out of garbage bags. For me this represents the universal father and the unconditional love of father to daughter."
In 2017, Yannis launched a project to help Reuters build a more diverse team of news photographers.
His appearances at photo festivals and events around the world inspired many young journalists to apply for a bursary from Reuters. He was very proud of this work, and was still looking for a new generation of talent right up until his death.
Behrakis is survived by his wife Elisavet and their daughter Rebecca and his son Dimitri.