Friday, November 30, 2007

One Shot: Anoop Negi

Image Copyright © Anoop Negi-All Rights Reserved

Anoop Negi is a photographer from India, whose above photograph of a Theyyam dancer in Kerala can only be described in my view as "National Geographic" quality. I found his work on Flickr, but his biography is sparse.

This photograph is of a dancer symbolizing a male deity in the dance form popularly known as "Theyyam". Theyyam is a popular ritual dance of north Kerala,generally performed in front of the village shrines, and also performed as ancestor worship with elaborate rites and rituals.

In earlier posts on TTP, here and here, I wrote this on Theyyam: Theyyam is a popular ritual dance of north Kerala, south India, particularly presented in the Kannur and Kasargode districts. It originates from centuries old traditions, rituals and customs, and as such embraces almost all castes and classes of Hindu religion in this region. The term Theyyam is a corrupt form of daivam or God. It is a rare combination of dance and music and reflects important features of a tribal culture.

Anoop Negi's Flickr page is here.

NPR: Nina Berman & Ashley Gilbertson

Four and a half years after the war in Iraq began, NPR's Leonard Lopate discusses the toll the war is taking on American soldiers, both on the frontlines and here at home. Ashley Gilbertson’s new book of photographs of the US-led invasion of Iraq is called Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Nina Berman has gathered images and stories of injured American soldiers in her book, Purple Hearts: Back from Iraq.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I'm always on the lookout for easy and innovative ways to showcase my photography on the web, and recently stumbled on VUVOX.

This is an easy to use production and instant sharing service that allows you to mix, create and blend video, photos and music into a visual display, be it on a website or a blog. Provided you're a Flickr (or other similar photo-sharing sites) user, you can create a simple slideshow in under 5 minutes. The nice thing about VUVOX slideshow is that it allows for full screen view, although one has to use higher resolution photographs so as to have them display properly.

There are some other neat examples of very interesting visual displays on VUVOX's website, including collages made into slideshows.

I've done some ferreting around, and found that VUVOX is used by the multimedia savvy (San Jose Mercury News Photography Department) for some innovative multimedia presentations.


Mercury News Photo Blog

Win luxury Hotel Chocolat Christmas Prizes - for you or a loved one

Tis’ the season to be chocolaty. As Christmas time approaches, Hotel Chocolat is reaching out to Kitchen Delights readers in search of the finest Yuletide themed chocolate recipes.

Do you have the best Christmas chocolate-chip cookies in town? Is your Christmas chocolate log simply to die for? Then why not put your recipe to the test against the rest of the country.

All you have to do is submit your recipe – the more original the better - and you could win a host of luxury chocolate goodies.

The lucky winner of the Kitchen Delights and Hotel Chocolat Christmas competition will also be automatically entered into the Hotel Chocolat Grand Prize recipe competition and could win even more seasonal chocolate goodies!

Do you think you’re the finest chocolate chef in the land? Well there really is only one way to find out …

For more inspirational ideas

The closing date for the competition is 12th December, 2007. Please read the terms and conditions for entering the competition.

To enter the competition click here. GOOD LUCK!

Haiti: Bon Bagay (Cite Soleil)

Image Copyright © Marcello Casal Jr.-All Rights Reserved

Bon Bagay is one of the first expressions that foreigners arriving in Haiti means "nice people" in Creole. It has become the symbol of friendship between Haitians and foreigners.

This is a multimedia feature produced by RadioBras (Agencia Brasil), and there's a version in English. The photography is by Marcello Casal Jr., and is produced by Aloisio Milani.

A combination of still photography and video, it's about Cite Soleil...the slum where over 250,000 Haitians live in abject poverty. It includes interviews with residents of the slum.

Bon Bagay is perhaps predictable but it is still solid photojournalism.

Bon Bagay

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Martin Scholler at Hasted Hunt Gallery

Image Copyright © Martin Scholler-All Rights Reserved

Mary-Presley Adams sent me an email announcing a new exhibit of large format photographic portraits by Martin Scholler entitled "New Work" at the Hasted Hunt Gallery. The exhibit will run from January 8 to February 23, 2008 with a reception for the artist on Thursday, January 10th from 6 to 8 PM.

This new exhibit will showcase a specially commissioned group of striking, mysterious faces of the rarely photographed Pirahã people, an indigenous hunter-gatherer tribe that lives primarily on the banks of the Maici River in Brazil. Currently numbered at approximately 360, the culture is in grave danger of extinction. The photographs were specially commissioned by The New Yorker.

Hasted Hunt Gallery is at 529 West 20th Street,3rd Floor, New York,NY 10011 (212 627 0006).

Jake Warga: Lalibela

To lighten the mood of TTP's recent posts, here is independent producer Jake Warga who has always dreamed of taking the perfect photo. He tells this story from a recent trip to Lalibela in Ethiopia, where he tried -- in vain -- to duplicate a photograph he saw in National Geographic Magazine. The quality of the photographs is impaired by the video compression, but it's still enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NPR: Thai Tattoo Tradition

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

In July 2005, I was traveling to Indonesia and stopped en route in Bangkok. It is there that I heard of the famous Wat Bang Phro monastery just outside the city's limits. It wasn't easy to find, but I found Bannasad "Nai" Radabutr, a taxi driver, who knew where it was and who also spoke some English. Through his intermediation, I photographed the tattooing monks at the monastery, and was quite pleased with the results. The resulting Tattooing Monks of Wat Bang Phro is probably one of my preferred documentary photo essays.

So imagine my pleasure at seeing that a similar photo-essay by Scott Carney was published by NPR's website less than two weeks ago, and doubly pleased to see that one of the photographs was almost identical to terms of subject, of composition and viewpoint. Here it is:

Image Copyright © Scott Carney/NPR-All Rights Reserved

The NPR article tells us that Thai soldiers have covered their bodies in protective tattoos called Sak Yant, and that the ancient ritual is increasingly popular in Thailand and beyond, and people are flocking to master artists to have the powerful designs inked on their bodies.

Naturally, I would've been happier had NPR chosen my photographs to publish in this feature, but that's how it is. It'll be for another time.

NPR's Photo Essay

NPR's Thai Tattoo Tradition

NY Times: Forged Barefoot In India

Image Copyright © J. Adams Huggins/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us an interesting audio slideshow feature on the Shakti Industries in Haora (West Bengal)which produces manhole covers for Con Edison and for departments of New York City, New Orleans and Syracuse. Con Edison, for instance, buys a quarter of its manhole covers, roughly 2,750 a year from India.

The accompanying article states: "Seemingly impervious to the heat from the metal, the workers at one of West Bengal’s many foundries relied on strength and bare hands rather than machinery. Safety precautions were barely in evidence; just a few pairs of eye goggles were seen in use on a recent visit. The scene was as spectacular as it was anachronistic: flames, sweat and liquid iron mixing in the smoke like something from the Middle Ages.

Naturally, the reason for these manhole covers being manufactured in India is that they can be anywhere from 20 to 60 percent cheaper than those made in the United States, and the workers at Indian foundries are paid the equivalent of a few dollars a day, while foundry workers in the United States earn about $25 an hour.

This may raise peoples' hackles, but I don't totally agree with the notion that the buyers in the United States and elsewhere should stop buying these products from the Indian manufacturers until the standards of workers safety improve. Should that approach be taken, it'll inevitably be the workers who suffer the consequences.

The New York Times' Forged Barefoot in India

Monday, November 26, 2007

TTP: Recap of The Week

I'm fast approaching The Travel Photographer's first annual anniversary (annual that a tautological statement? Maybe not), and I've been thinking how to improve TTP's content for its readers.

I thought I'd introduce a weekly recap of the previous week's most viewed posts for those who may miss their TTP daily shot. So here's the first TTP Recap:

In order of popularity by being the most viewed for the week of November 18-24, the posts were:

Hands On The Canon 1DS MK III which is self explanatory.

Unsung: Extraordinary People. An inspirational book about Indians with ordinary backgrounds who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities.

Beyond The Frame: Puspa Wresti Dancers. A Beyond The Frame feature describing a background story to one of my photographs of Balinese dancers.

Micah Albert: Southern Sudan. The captivating photography of Micah Albert of Southern Sudan subjects.

WP: Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

Image Copyright © Jahi Chikwendiu/WP-All Rights Reserved's Monday and let's get back to some serious posting with this sad story.

Leena Saidi, a Lebanese journalist tells the story of Rasha Zayoun, a 17 year old girl whose foot was mangled beyond repair by an Israeli-dropped cluster bomblet which exploded in her home in South Lebanon.

The arresting photography is by Jahi Chikwendiu, a staff photographer for the Washington Post, and who won Best Portfolio awards from the White House News Photographers' Association and the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.

From The Washington Post article, we learn that:

Rasha lost her foot after the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the radical Shiite militia. U.N. officials estimate that the Israeli military dropped between 1.2 and 4 million cluster bomblets on southern Lebanon -- 90 percent of them during the last 72 hours of the 33-day conflict. The Israeli military says it aimed only at military targets.

In early December, delegates from more than 80 countries are scheduled to meet in Vienna to work on the text of a new treaty to ban cluster bombs. The United States is not expected to attend.

This is a gut-wrenching photography from an unblinking photojournalist, who does an admirable job in documenting this sad story. You'll have to wait out the obnoxious advertisement ( note to the WP: no one watches these ads) which precedes the multimedia feature, but it's worth it.

The Washington Post's Cluster Bombs In Lebanon

Sunday, November 25, 2007


The weather has been cold, wet and grey. This pot roast will make you feel better just by looking at it. Everyone seems to have a cold at the moment and thinking about cooking is the last thing on your mind. How about trying out some one pot cooking where you just throw everything into the pot and then you needn't even think about putting a saucepan on the hob.
It will take you about 20 minutes to prepare the pot roast and then 1½ to 2 hours later you will have the most amazing chicken meal which is bursting with flavour.
This is soul food and an excellent way to feed a cold.
Seasonal Kitchen is a wonderful book packed full of beautiful photographs and recipes. It is divided into seasons which is very useful and the recipe below comes from the Winter section.

by Michele Cranston

ISBN 9781921259036 - Page 331

Serves: 4-6 (this recipe has been slightly adapted).

1.5kg whole organic chicken, 1½ tablespoons softened butter, 4 slices proscuitto, 2 onions each cut into eight, 2 large carrots,(peeled and cut into chunks), 1 celery stalk (cut into 2cm lengths), 2 leeks (rinsed and sliced into 2cm rounds), 3 potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks), 1 rosemary sprig, 250ml dry white wine, 250ml chicken stock, a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°C/Gas 4.
2. Sit the chicken in a 3 litre casserole dish. rub the butter over the breast of the chicken, then cover with the proscuitto slices.
3. Arrange the vegetables and rosemary around the chicken, and then pour the wine and stock over. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and then put the lid on top and bake for 1 to 1½ hours.
5. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and gently move the vegetables around. Using a large spoon, pour some of the juices over the chicken. Leave the lid off and roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown.
6. Place the chicken on a warm serving platter along with the vegetables.
7. Pour the sauce from the casserole into a gravy skimmer, discard the fat, then pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.

PBase Magazine

PBase is a photo sharing website on the internet, which despite the competition from other photo sharing sites, remains a favored choice for professional photographers who prefer its simple interface.

It also publishes (in PDF) a free quarterly magazine titled PBase Magazine which features a PBase member, and has articles on photography and related software. It's very nicely done, and there are already 11 issues published, so happy browsing!

PBase Magazine

Sunday Rant II

Here's my rant for this sunny and cold Sunday morning...and it has nothing to do with travel or editorial photography.

Most of us know there's a shocking difference in terms of depth of coverage and intellectual content between CNN and CNN International cable channels, but the disparity is also evident on its websites as well.

It'd be too long to list disparities in the news items, but I thought its Quick Vote features illustrate this well.

Here's an example from yesterday's editions:

CNN International had these questions on its Quick Vote feature: "Do you think former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be successful in his attempt to return from exile to Pakistan this time?" and another: "Will Australia's Kevin Rudd be a better prime minister than John Howard?.

For its American web audiences, CNN had this question on its Quick Vote feature: "Will you spend more, less or about the same for holiday gifts?"

God help us.

Flickr Places: Useful for Scouting?

Flickr has recently introduced an innovative feature called Places that allows anyone to scout out geographical locations through photographs. The photographs are combined with maps, geotags and groups, and these give you visual heads up of what the places you're interested in can offer.

For instance, since Kashmir is on my photo expeditions' "radar screen", I've used Flickr's Srinagar to look at various photographs of the town and its environs.

Flickr Places

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Puspa Wresti

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

This Beyond The Frame post features Puspa Wresti dancers applying their makeup, and readying themselves for a photo-shoot in Kerobokan in Bali.

I arranged a photo-shoot with Puspa Wresti dancers during my Bali: Island of Gods photo-expedition by locating a classical dance school, and convincing its head teacher to make available these young women to photograph in a Hindu temple.

As I wrote elsewhere in this blog, the Balinese people's belief in animism and ancestor worship, in addition to Hindu traditions, governs their everyday life and actions. This was demonstrated to us when -in the middle of the photo-shoot at the temple- one of the dancers suddenly became lightheaded, and had to stop dancing.

During the ensuing discussion with the teacher, I learned that her dancers were reluctant to resume dancing because of their belief that they had offended the temple's spirits...which caused one of them to feel unwell. Here, the sekala niskala was amply in evidence, with the spirit world affecting the physical world, and we had to move the whole troupe to another location.

It is a wise photographer who accepts with respect, humility and understanding other people's belief systems and works within its parameters.

One Shot: Goran Tomasevic

Image Copyright © Goran Tomasevic-All Rights Reserved

I chanced on this great photograph on the MSNBC photoblog (link below). The photograph is by Goran Tomasevic for Reuters, and is of an Afghan little boy looking at Dutch soldiers as they search his family's home in the Uruzagu province in Afghanistan. Tomasevic photographs for Reuters, and has made quite a name for himself in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mish Whalen, one of MSNBC's multimedia editors (who must've chosen this photograph for inclusion on the blog) commented on the photograph by writing this: "This photo caught my eye at first glance. I love the one eye of the woman on the left peeking out from the hood."

Whaaaat?!!! Ms Whalen ignores the overall tension in the scene, ignores the fear in this little boy's eyes, glosses over the apprehension in the woman's eye, and ignores the mother's protective crouch over her children... and crows about the "eye peeking out"?

Yes, I's a storm in a teacup, but I'm just saying.

MSNBC's Photo Blog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Micah Albert: Southern Sudan

Image Copyright © Micah Albert-All Rights Reserved

Born and raised in California, Micah Albert studied and earned his B.A. in photography and graphic arts from Point Loma Nazarene University, Keller Visual Arts Center.

He has extensively covered Central and East Africa, notably Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. He documented and published his writing and photography ranging in topics from; Sudanese IDP and refugee camps, HIV/AIDS awareness in Kenya, active war zones in Sudan, village life in post-war Eastern Congo, slum life in Bukavu (Congo), and life in insurgent controlled North Kivu (DR Congo).

His website is a visual treat with captivating photographs, particularly those of Southern Sudan. Many of his photographs have interesting compositions...such as the one I chose for this post, showing some children in Southern Sudan studying math by using the dirt as an easel.

Micah Albert

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

May: Thanksgiving Turkey

Image Copyright © Jason Reed/Reuters

This is May, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, who was "pardoned" at the White House today. I wish all TTP blog readers a happy Thanksgiving!

New York Times: Marrakech

Image Copyright © Ingrid Pullar/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

Here's a travel feature from the New York Times which I can only describe as "space filler". I doubt whether any reader/viewer of this slide show will be moved to visit Marrakech by I'm not sure what the objective is.

I think you'll agree.

The New York Times' Marrakech

Narayan Mahon: Beijing Hutongs

Image Copyright © Narayan Mahon-All Rights Reserved

Narayan Mahon is Maine-born and is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He earned his Master’s degree in Photojournalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

He specializes in reportage and travel photography, and has traveled and photographed in nearly 80 countries, and is a contributor to The New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Seattle Times.

His photojournalism projects on his website are in the popular Soundslides format. I had difficulty in choosing which project to feature on TTP, since they are all very good...but in the end, I decided on the Beijing Hutongs project, not only because of Narayan's documentary style street verite -type of photography, but also because of the project's cultural and historical interests. There is no narration to the slideshow, but it's accompanied by lovely Chinese music.

Here's some background on the hutongs: A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing, where hutongs run into the several thousand. Surrounding the Forbidden City, many were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming(1368-1628) and Qing(1644-1908) dynasties.

The regular hutongs were near the palace to the east and west, and arranged in orderly fashion along the streets. Most of the residents of these hutongs were imperial kinsmen and aristocrats. The simpler hutongs were located further to the north and south of the palace. The residents were merchants and other ordinary people.

Many of the hutongs are now being demolished to give way to high-rises, and a traditional way of life is threatened by China's modernization.

Narayan Mahon's Beijing Hutongs

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sarah Bones: East Africa

Image Copyright © Sarah Bones-All Rights Reserved

Sarah S. Bones saved for her first 35mm camera at age 13, and immediately hitchhiked into Philadelphia so that she could photograph the lives and circumstances of people living on the street. As a professional photographer, her passion is in documenting people in need and has carried her to Africa, across Asia, Guatemala, Cuba and locally, into prisons, homeless shelters and the intensity of political campaigns. Her international travel has also taken her to Sierra Leone, India, Zanzibar and Tanzania and Somalia.

Sarah is self-taught, and has won numerous awards. Her image "The Grieving Women" taken in Sierra Leone won placement in The NPPA Women in Photojournalism Contest Expanding Our Vision 2007. Her photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

I chose Sarah's East Africa gallery for TTP, despite her very strong photographs of Cuba. I found the one above of an orphanage in Somalia to be one of my favorite because of the colors and the blurry forefront figure...I favor this technique when I want to give frontal perspective to a distant scene.

Sarah Bones' East AFrica

Monday, November 19, 2007

Unsung: Extraordinary People

Image Copyright © Mahesh Bhat-All Rights Reserved

Since TTP is a non-commercial blog, I do not post about books unless I've read and enjoy them, however this is an exception.

UNSUNG is an inspirational book about Indians with ordinary backgrounds who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities. The book tells the stories of nine of such people from places across India, such as Ladkah, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Orissa.

It seems that the book was about 5 years in the making, and published despite many odds. It features B&W photographs by photographer Mahesh Bhat and text by journalist Anita Pratap, who have self-published the book.

I thought the best story was that of Tulasi Munda, an adivasi from Orissa, who started a school under a tree, selling puffed rice to finance it. The school has educated more than 15,000 so far. I've photographed the adivasis in Chhattisgarh, and I'm aware of the difficulties they to read about Tulasi Munda's achievements is encouraging.

Both Mahesh and Anita deserve praise and admiration for their determination, and for bringing these extraordinary "ordinary" people to our awareness.


The New Americans

Over six months, members of the Columbia News21 team (A Journalism Initiative of the Carnegie and Knight Foundations) traveled 525,000 miles across the United States, Canada, India and Iran in search of a better understanding of minority religions and the immigrants who practice them.

From the project's website: "American religion is now a festival of rituals, practices, behaviors and beliefs that once seemed like the province of faraway lands. Today, mosques and gurudwaras and temples sacred to Buddhists and Hindus dot the American landscape along with churches and synagogues. What is more, Catholics, Protestants and Jews -- having absorbed immigrant populations -- aren’t what they once were."

This is a comprehensive study of America's minority (and majority) religions and faiths presented through a combination of multimedia products and styles. Many, if not all, of us would benefit from giving this remarkably compelling project the time it richly deserves to absorb it, and learn from it.

The New Americans

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Jeanne over at Cook Sister is hosting
Waiter, There's Something in My...Topless Tart!
I've entered the 'Waiter' challenge several times click here to see my previous entries.
Pears, almonds and chocolate are a divine combination of flavours and on many occasions I have looked at this recipe longingly and waited for the right time to come along to make it. This was now the perfect excuse to indulge!
The book I've taken this recipe from is by food writer Louise Pickford who is a contributor to food magazines such as Delicious. I'm a huge fan of food writers and if you enjoy baking, this book will earn its place on the bookshelf.

FRESH BAKED - Louise Pickford

ISBN 0600613569 - Page 93

Serves: 8

The original recipe suggests making a sweet shortcrust pastry to line the tin but I opted for a basic shortcrust pastry.
Delia's method for baking a pastry case blind is the method I always use and needless to say it's foolproof.

225g plain flour, 50g butter, 50g lard, approximately 3 tablespoons cold water.
Make in the usual way and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out and line a 25cm
flan tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for a further 30 minutes. Bake blind in a preheated oven, 190°C(375°F) Gas Mark 5.
Leave the cooked pastry case to cool completely.

125g butter (softened), 125g caster sugar, 125g ground almonds, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 ripe pears (peeled, cored and thickly sliced), 25g flaked almonds.

1. Beat the butter, sugar and ground almonds together until smooth and then beat in the eggs and lemon juice.
2. Arrange the pear slices over the pastry case and carefully spread over the almond cream. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden and firm to the touch.
3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
4. Dust the tart with icing sugar and serve in wedges with the chocolate sauce and some vanilla ice cream.

100g dark chocolate chopped, 50g unsalted butter (diced), 1 tablespoon golden syrup.

Put the chocolate, butter and syrup in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and stir until melted. Leave to cool slightly.

Patients Without Borders

Image © Larry Towell/Magnum for NY Times-All Rights Reserved

I recently ranted and ridiculed the New York Times Magazine here for publishing superficial photo-essays in comparison to those appearing in its British counterparts, such as the Times of London and The Independent, so I'm pleased this weekend that it published Third World Clinic, First World Country, a compelling and certainly hard-hitting photo essay.

Third World Clinic, First World Country documents the work of a volunteer medical relief corps called Remote Area Medical in the Appalachians. RAM has sent health expeditions to countries like Guyana, India, Tanzania and Haiti, but increasingly its work is in the United States, where 47 million people — more than 15 percent of the population — live without health insurance.

The photographs are by Larry Towers of Magnum, and the accompanying article is by Sara Corbett.

The slideshow: Third World Clinic, First World Country

The article: Patients Without Borders

Hands On The Canon 1Ds MKIII

Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape recently returned from two weeks of photography in Madagascar with the new Canon 1Ds MKIII. He writes an interesting article sharing some photographs of the trip, as well as valuable observations and comments from using a pre-production sample of the new Canon 1Ds MKIII.

This is a hand-on write-up by a photographer in the field...the kind I find much more useful than a dry technical review.

Here's the link: Mad About Madagascar

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Soundslides Embed Utility

It's now a cinch to embed your Soundslides slideshow unto your website and/or blog.

Joe Weiss has developed a web-based utility which allows you to enter the URL of your Soundslides, and you immediately get the necessary code to add to your website and blog....however be mindful that the dimensions of your slideshow must fit the width of your blog.

Here's the link: Soundslides Embed Utility

Friday, November 16, 2007

Heather McClintock: Uganda

Image Copyright © Heather McClintock-All Rights Reserved

Heather McClintock received her photography degree from the New England college in NH, and relocated to New York City. Seeking a deeper connection to humanity by documenting humanitarian work, her passion for recording human condition was fulfilled in Northern Uganda.

She focused on the Acholi people, proud and resilient, but brutalized by the 20 years of horrific civil war. The Acholi children in particular have endured traumatizing treatment, and are in dire need for assistance. Hopefully Heather's photographs have and will resonate with as many people as possible to make the Acholi's lives better.

Her work in Uganda has earned Heather well deserved recognition through numerous awards and publications.

A remarkable photographer...I urge you to explore all of her portfolios.

Heather McClintock's Acholi People

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Charles Meacham: Sikhism

Image Copyright © Charles Meacham-All Rights Reserved

Charles Meacham was born just outisde of Philadelphia, and his first major travel experience was a year trip touring the U.S. in a 1971 Volkswagen camper. Overheating and bursting into flames, the van died along a highway in Arizona, but his interest in travel did not.

His image of a Kazakh eagle hunter in Western Mongolia, whose rugged image earned him first place in the National Geographic Traveler's 15th Annual Photography Competition. Since then his images have been seen internationally in almost every medium.

His current projects include images of Sikhism, documenting the lives of ex-soldiers from the Chinese civil war (on both sides of the Taiwan Strait), and the workings of the living fort of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India. When not traveling he can or cannot be found riding his motorcycle in the mountains of Taiwan.

Sikhism was founded in the 16th century Punjab district, and was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him. It is a monotheistic religion which stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. Sikhs worship at a Gurdwara. and the Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib.

Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple)in Amritsar is the most sacred and holiest shrine of Sikhism It is located in Amritsar, and Sikh devotees come to the Temple from all over the world to offer their prayers.

Meacham's splendid photographs of the Sikhs showcases adherents to the faith, from young boys to elderly patriarchs. I'm not sure what is the significance of the orange turbans worn with dark blue long shirts...I assume it's some sort of uniform worn by the Sikhs during a certain festival or ritual. The Sikhs are often described as the Warrior-Saints.

Note: My thanks to Charles who explained that orange is the holy color of the Sikh religion, and blue was the favorite color of the 10th Guru and the traditional color of his Nihang Army.

Charles Meacham

Frédéric Sautereau: Burma

Image © Frédéric Sautereau-All Rights Reserved

The International Herald Tribune reports that more than 1,500 people from over 20 countries have registered for a major gems auction in Burma this week, despite calls from human rights groups to block the purchase of precious stones from the military ruled country. Burma is one of the biggest jade and gem-producing countries in the world, and international auctions are a major revenue earner for the regime. It is expected that the auction will generate the equivalent of $200 million. International business transactions with Burma are done in Euros because of the United States' here's the question: why don't the Europeans follow our lead in this?

I thought that Frédéric Sautereau's recent October 2007 photo essay on Burma would be appropriate in conjunction with the above news, which contrasts with the poverty and miserable conditions afflicting the people of Burma today. The black & white photographs by Frédéric do an admirable job in conveying the hopelessness of the Burmese especially in view of the callous disregard of international businesses to their plight.

Frédéric Sautereau, director of the collective agency Oeil public, is a freelance photograph since 1995. He's principally a documentary photographer whose career has taken him to the war-torn cities of Belfast, Nicosia, Mostar, Jérusalem, and Mitrovica.

Frédéric Sautereau's Burma

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Women News Network: White Shadows

Image © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I am privileged to have my photographic essay on the widows of Vrindavan featured on Women News Network.

The WNN feature is titled "Nothing to Go Back To” - The Fate of the Widows of Vrindavan, India", and has been released to over 500 UN agencies and affiliates via WUNRN.

WNN - Women News Network - uses the highest standard in journalism to bring in depth international women’s news not found in our current public media stream. Startingfrom a writing assignment to cover the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2006, director Lys Anzia saw the vital need for media women to report the many times hard and suffering international stories of women. WNN stories have appeared on UN affiliate and agency publications through WUNRN - Women’s UN Report Network and UN-INSTRAW, the United Nations Institute of Training and Research for the Advancement of Women.

WNN's "Nothing to Go Back To” - The Fate of the Widows of Vrindavan"

WUNRN's Podcast of the feature

Matt Brandon: Kashmir

Matt Brandon has been photographing since he was 10 years old with his father’s Cannonet QL Rangefinder, and now specializes in NGO, relief and humanitarian projects. Until recently he lived in Kashmir.

The Government of India featured his work in Indian embassies around the world in a traveling exhibition on it's only natural that I bring his slideshow showcasing its people to TTP.

While the soundtrack chosen to accompany the slideshow is delightful (Ethnic Kashmiri music has Central Asian influences, but here it sounds more Hindi), the YouTube piece does not render justice to Matt's scintillating photographs, so head over to visit his website and blog:
The Digital Trekker

National Geographic: Photography Grant

The National Geographic awards one grant of $50,000 for Photography annually to a professional photojournalist. The money will go directly to funding the production of a photography project, which may be considered for publication in National Geographic magazine and/or the National Geographic magazine website or for possible exhibit at National Geographic headquarters or other venues.

Professional photographers who would like to be considered for the NG Grant must submit a grant application. Details are available here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New York Times: Bab El-Sheikh (Iraq)

Image © Johan Spanner/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

Every week, I try to feature a post -using editorial or documentary photography- that relates to current world news or international politics, to which I add my perspective and opinions.

The New York Times brings us an audio slideshow from Baghdad's neighborhood of Bab El-Sheikh (ie door of the sheikh), which has the reputation of being an island of tolerance amongst the horrors of sectarian strife in this unfortunate capital city. The neighborhood is ancient, and goes back more than a thousand years ago, when Baghdad ruled the Islamic world.

Nowadays, Bab El-Sheikh is still extraordinary because here, Sunnis, Shias, Kurds and Christians live together with ease...woven together by its ancient, shared past, bound by trust and generations of intermarriage.

The narration of the slideshow is by Karim Hilmi, an Iraqi Shia (he pronounces it in the erroneous American way as Shitte- presumably so that we will understand) who lived in the neighborhood since his youth. The photography is by Johan Spanner.

I'd like to see more of these reportages where it's local Iraqis, narrators, photographers, journalists, who tell us and show us what is happening to their country. It would humanize the Iraqis in our eyes...and make us understand that these are people just like us, who are living under unimaginable conditions, partly caused by our military occupation of their country.

The NY Times' Bab El-Sheikh

Barbara Paul: Timeless Laos Exhibit

Barbara Paul photographs people of remote regions of Asia and Africa, where few travelers visit. Timeless Laos: Monks, Festivals, Village Life captures the ethnic dress, tribal and religious customs, festivals and daily life that make Laos unique. From villages to ancient ruins, from daily market life to holiday festivals, Ms. Paul's photographs provide a rare glimpse into a land that seems timeless even as the modern age encroaches.

Timeless Laos: Monks, Festivals, Village Life , an exhibit by the Westport photographer Barbara Paul, will be on display at the Rye Free Reading Room in Rye, NY from November 20 through January 3, 2008 , with a reception on Sunday, November 25, from 1-3PM.

Ms. Paul's previous exhibits have featured Eastern Tibet, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Mali and other countries.

For further information, contact the Rye Library 1061 Boston Post Road,Rye, New York 10580 on (914) 967-0480 or via its website.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jim Lo Scalzo: Evidence of my Existence

Evidence of My Existence is a summary of a new memoir by US News & World Report photojournalist Jim Lo Scalzo. He combines passages from his now published book with photographs, video, and Super-8 film, and brings us a personal account of his years spent with an obsessive wanderlust, and moving from one new story to the next.

Jim Lo Scalzo says that "travel is a compulsive craving. Oh yes, it's an addiction and a buzz....and just what most photojournalists, travel and documentary photographers feel and experience before, during and after their assignments.

You can also watch it on MediaStorm at a better resolution, and additional related links.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Although at this time of the year we turn our thoughts to comfort food, I try to eat some lighter meals midweek. Christmas is only a few weeks away and I start to think of all of those extra calories eaten over such a short time. If the pounds pile on now in the run up to Christmas, then the problem becomes greater over the festive period.

If I eat sensibly then I don't have any weight issues, but unfortunately, that isn't the case with my husband, who just has to look at food and seems to be able to put on the pounds!

After cooking Pasta with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes I had lots of spinach left and so this salad was made and I served it with a savoury tart.

OLIVE MAGAZINE - August 2007

Serves: 4

Marinating the onions gives them a lovely sweet and sour flavour and takes away some of the rawness.

1 red onion (halved and sliced), 1 tbsp caster sugar, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 100g young spinach, 4 tbsp toasted pine nuts, olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 150ml natural yoghurt (mine was homemade and see this posting).

1. Put the red onion in a bowl and toss with the sugar and vinegar. Leave for 10-15 minutes to soften. Put the spinach in a large serving dish. Drain the onions then scatter over the spinach with the pine nuts.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the cumin seeds. When they start to pop, take off the heat and stir into the yoghurt. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

Sheila McKinnon: Invisible Women

Image © Sheila McKinnon-All Rights Reserved

Sheila McKinnon is a Canadian photographer-journalist who lives in Italy, and who worked in Africa and Asia for publications such as the New York Times, Newsweek and Die Welt. She has worked as a humanitarian photographer for UNICEF, Africare, FAO and other similar agencies.

I feature Sheila's work entitled "Invisible Women" which is in the form of a flash slideshow. It seems a bit dated because the photographs are not as clear as they should be, but this doesn't take away form the beauty of the images nor of the message the photo essay imparts.

The slideshow is graced by the lovely vocals of Rosie Wiederkehr, a Swiss singer and musician...don't turn off your speakers!!! It's really good.

Sheila McKinnon's Invisible Women

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New York Times: Burma

Image © New York Times-All Rights Reserved

News agencies reported that the pro-democracy leader in Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, recently with members of her party, the National League for Democracy, for the first time in three years as well as with Aung Kyi, the general appointed as a liaison by Myanmar’s military government.

The New York Times reports that "Six weeks after its violent crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks, Myanmar’s military government has telegraphed alternating signs of combativeness and flexibility. Analysts say they are watching to determine whether the ruling generals’ outreach to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi is genuine or whether it falls into a well-established pattern of short-lived concessions toward dissidents followed by a return to a hard-line stance."

In my view and that of others, Burma's military government is buying time as it always does in similar situations, and hoping that the international community will soon be distracted by other world events...such as the current turmoil in Pakistan. By the way, isn't the current political situation in Pakistan eerily similar to that of Burma?

Another feature from the New York Times on Burma

NY Times: Mexico's Day of the Dead

Image © Janet Jarman/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

I completely forgot that it was the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos some 10 days ago. This a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and the Mexican community living in north America, but it's also observed in other Latin American countries.

The Mexican celebration occurs on November 1 (All Saints' Day) and November 2 (All Souls' Day). Celebrating the dead may be considered morbid to other cultures, but celebrants consider the Day of the Dead as a joyful and happy occasion. The tradition is to celebrate and honor the lives of the deceased. It also celebrate the continuation of life, believing that death is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.

In atonement for my oversight, here's a New York Times slide show on the Day of the Dead. The photographs are by Janet Jarman...I found the accompanying explanatory text to each image to be very useful, which is why I deem this particular slide show not exactly a 'fluff' piece for tourists.

By the way, this weekend is also Diwali for Hindus. When I stumble on a Diwali-themed photo essay, I'll post it.

The New York Times' Day of the Dead

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kenro Izu: Bhutan, The Sacred Within

Image Copyright © Kenro Izu-All Rights Reserved

I was glad to go to the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) yesterday to see Kenro Izu's exhibition of photographs from Bhutan. The RMA devoted its entire third floor to the exhibition, and it was visually most of its exhibitions are.

From the RMA's brochure: "Bhutan, the Sacred Within exhibition is the last of Kenro Izu's trilogy related to sacred landscapes, si the second to premiere at RMA. The people of Bhutan, heirs to an unbroken tradition of Buddhist government and religion, sustain the values of family bonds, community life, agrarian labor and worship. Izu finds this focus in the faces and postures of his subjects. His meticulous, hand-printed platinum prints bring us closer to a population that seeks to maintain traditions while on the brink of modernity."

Using a turn of the century technique, Kenro Izu takes platinum palladium prints with a custom built camera that produces 14 x 20-inch negatives. In a significant departure from his previous large scale projects, most of Izu's photographs of Bhutan are of people. The subjects are posed, and I was told that because of the lens aperture, the poses were unusually long by modern standards and resulted in a slight softness in some of the photographs; the subjects of the photographs understandably moving a little.

The total number of prints on the third floor are probably about 50, out of which a handful were much larger than 14x20 inches. The photographs are either carbon pigment prints or platinum/palladium prints. Having no clue what was a carbon pigment print, I looked it up on Wikipedia and it's "a photographic print produced by soaking a carbon tissue in a dilute sensitizing solution of potassium bichromate. The solution also consists of carbon, gelatin, and a coloring agent." As for the platinum/palladium prints, they are contact prints — the photographs are the size of the negatives, and they cannot be enlarged.

I was told that while all the regular-sized photographs were hand printed, the handful of larger photographs had been digitally printed because of their size.

I particularly admired a photograph of two tsechu dancers, one poker-faced and the other almost frowning, made the Tamshing Lakhang in Bumthang. Another masterpiece is the triptych of dancers made during the Wangdue tsechu in central Bhutan.

There's no question that this is a must-see exhibition if you live or are in New York and you're interested in Bhutan, Buddhism, and in sophisticated visual arts. Others -who are more qualified than I- as well as press releases have already lauded the exhbition and the photographs...but take it from me, it shouldn't be missed.

Incidentally, Kenro Izu has published a wonderful book of his Bhutan photographs...more like a monograph...and it's available at the RMA's bookstore if you want to take these photographs home. I couldn't find it do take a look at it while you're there.

I found a couple of older QT snippets of an interview with Kenro Izu and his process on the Peabody Essex Museum website.

Izu's Interview

Izu's Printing Process

Hotel Chocolat Competition Winner

Hotel Chocolat have announced the winner of their recent competition from this site. They received lots of heart-felt entries and found it very difficult choosing a winner. The wonderful prize of a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne went to Ray who is one of my visitors.

Here is his winning entry:

I know my wife Marion deserves this surprise because I have always had her support and love since we got together when we were only 17 (we are now 54. That love and support has carried through to our children and family members. I tell her often what she means to me but her having the chocolat and me watching her enjoying the delight of it will say more than words ever can.

Well done Ray! We hope your wife enjoys this magnificent prize.


Image & Design © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Watch this space....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is Travel Photography Dying...or Dead?

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

A few days ago Heather Jacobsen of hk imagery and a reader of TTP, asked me whether I thought that travel photography was dead...she had heard that statement from many in the industry, and was interested to know my view.

Well, here it is: I do not subscribe to the notion that “travel” photography is dead. It has evolved...and I mean really evolved...not a progressive kind of evolution, but it changed with a relative abruptness that left many of those unprepared gasping for air...and not only was the change sudden, but it happened dynamically.

The confluence of many factors contributed to the evolution of “travel” photography. The relatively cheap travel, the accessibility of the ‘off-the-beaten path’ places, computers, digital photography and all its hardware and software accouterments, the Internet, mini-stock agencies and free photo hosting websites, to name but a few, are all factors that changed traditional ‘travel’ photography industry.

So my response to Heather was essentially that traditional "travel" photography had evolved so much and so rapidly, that many deemed it dead. I guess the emphasis here is on 'traditional'. I also made the rather obvious point that photographers needed to acquire new skills to adapt in this new environment.

Everyone realizes that anyone with a half-decent digital camera can now produce sensational photographs of the Pyramids or Angkor Wat, but that doesn’t mean that working photographers should give up and stay home doing something else. It just means (at least to me) that photographers who travel to photograph must develop skills and abilities more akin to those of photojournalists...they need to tell stories with their photographs.

I follow the Travel section of the New York Times quite closely, and see how photographers and its photo editors are using its website to effectively showcase travel photography. I recently posted a multimedia feature (by Chris Ramirez) on Trinidad which combined photography with its food and wine industry: one of a rapidly expanding genre in the travel photography domain.

There are photographers at the top of the food chain...the members of the ‘oligopoly’… who still sell technically perfect photographs of the Pyramids, or of infinity swimming pools in the Maldives, or of coconut trees swaying in the wind...and who get handsomely paid...but even they are a dying breed and their days are numbered.

While I'm at it, let me add this about the photo tours business...and I've been saying it for years. Photographers -whether celebrity or not- who lead photo tours can no longer rest on their laurels. They too have to evolve. The days of doing the same itinerary over and over are gone...and the "hey! shoot like me!" days are also gone. Photo tour leaders have to research and offer, not only new itineraries, but guidance as to how to weave the participants' daily inventory of photographs into eventual photo to build compelling stories out of their photographs. Yes, that's right...more workshop-like than just a photo tour.

I firmly believe that the future of "travel" photography is where the photojournalists are treading...and where they’re going...and its adherents will face the same challenges photojournalists face. They’ll have to tell and sell compelling stories though their photographs, by adding creative multimedia effects and sound recordings, and become in effect almost documentary filmmakers. Some will embrace this evolution, will continue to evolve and will thrive, and others will not.

Survival of the's that simple.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photo Tours: Paying Through the Nose?

Image Copyright © Ralph Childs-All Rights Reserved

It’s incredible but true...people will pay more -often much more- than others for exactly the same product or service. Others will pay more - sometimes hugely more - for an inferior product or service that looks or sounds the same.

This behavior is often exhibited in photo tours, and specifically those to Bhutan. Figuring out costs in Bhutan is simple because the government dictates a standard price per day for tourists (currently $200), and where accommodations are within the same price range and quality (excepting the 4 luxury Aman hotels in Bhutan that are exempted from government tariff setting, and which charge about $900 a night!).

The land cost for the photo-expedition I organized and led to Bhutan last October was $2890. The duration of the tour was 14 days, which means that the cost per day for each member (single occupancy) was $206. The maximum number of participants on my expeditions is not more than 8 photographers.

I just ran a thorough search for ‘photo tours to Bhutan’ using Google, and found a handful of photo tours ranging in price (land costs only) from a low of $4350 for 14 days (ie $310 per day for each member) to a high of $6900 for 10 days (ie $690 per day per member). So why would anyone pay $690 a day instead of $310...or even $206? Accommodations, guides, vehicle, transportation, food, sight seeing, access to festivals, are virtually the same. In some cases, even the land operator in Bhutan is one and the same.

Naturally, what’s left out from the above comparison is the capability and experience of the photo tour leader, which impacts on whether the photographers on the tour return with great photographs or not. But whether this is worth the add-on to the land costs is a qualitative factor that can only be determined by members' experiences. Having a celebrity photographer lead the tour is no assurance that it'll be worth the premium....especially if the celebrity is more interested in shooting stock for his/her inventory during the tour.

So here’s the challenge: if any member of any photo tour to Bhutan reads TTP, and believes that his or her photographs are better than the one above by Ralph Childs…a regular member on my photo expeditions…made during the Prakhar tsechu, please email it to me, along with an explanation as to why it’s better and why the tour cost you paid is -in your view- justifiable. I'll post the photographs and your comments on TTP.

Rick Sammon's Travel Tips

Image Copyright © Colleen Wheeler-All Rights Reserved

The O'Reilly Digital Media website brings us a podcast of a conversational interview with travel photographer Rick Sammon by Derrick Story in the O'Reilly Media booth at PhotoPlus Expo 2007 in New York City.

I haven't heard anything really new in the podcast, however I was not surprised to hear Rick's take on wearing a photo vest to circumvent airline restrictions on carry-on luggage. I fill the pockets of my Orvis safari jacket with lenses and a flash when I'm faced with check-in agents who insist in weighing my carry-on. It was interesting to hear both interlocutors laud the Canon 70-200mm IS f4. They describe the lens as one of the best Canon has ever manufactured.

The podcast's length is about 16 minutes.

Rick Sammon's podcast

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NY Times: Protests in Pakistan

Image Copyright © Arif Ali/AFP/Getty-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a multimedia feature on the current protests in Pakistan against the imposition of martial law by the government of General Pervez Musharraf.

Today's editorial is quite strongly worded (for a change): "The general, Pakistan’s president, justified his crackdown as a defense against Islamic militants, but his desperate and reprehensible actions — suspending the constitution, rounding up judges, beating and jailing lawyers and journalists — will embolden extremists. They will also fuel anger and mistrust among Pakistani moderates. "

A comment from a reader on the NY Times' website sees it this way : “The problem is not Musharraf’s dictatorship. It’s the American interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs”.

The photograph above is probably the best of the feature. The slideshow includes a verbal report by reporter David Rohde from Islamabad.

The NY Times' Protests in Pakistan

Angkor Photo Festival: Nov 17-28, 2007

The Angkor Photography Festival, the first of its kind in South-East Asia, was created in 2005 by Gary Knight, Christophe Loviny and Jean-Yves Navel. This year, for the third time, the temples of Angkor will become a hub for famous and passionate photographers from across the world.

The festival’s program cuts a broad swathe through the world of photography in Asia and plays host to “concerned” documentary photography and fine art photography. This year, the festival presents this part of the world through the eyes of photographers from Europe (Agnès Dherbeys Olivier Föllmi, and Simon Larbalestier among others), from the United States (Stephanie Sinclair, John Stanmeyer, and others), from India (Altaf Qadri, Dar Yasin and Palani Mohan) and many more.

The whole programme for the festival is available here

Angkor Photography Festival website

Canon Service Notice: EOS-1D Mark III

The National Geographic Digital Photography blog has posted the information and link to the Canon Europe website which has a post updating the auto focus tracking issue on the Canon EOS-1D Mark III digital SLR that explains how they plan to fix the problem.

Canon Europe offers an apology and a range of serial numbers for cameras affected by the AF tracking challenge.

"If the serial number on the bottom of the camera is between 501001 and 546561, it could contain one of the AF mirrors with the adjustment problem."

Information is here: Canon Europe Update

Les Stone: Haiti's Voodoo

Image Copyright © Les Stone-All Rights Reserved

This month's Digital Journalist brings us the gripping work on voodoo in Haiti by photographer Les Stone.

Les Stone is an acclaimed photographer who chronicled the human cost of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Kosovo, Liberia, Cambodia and Haiti, among other troubled spots. He won several World Press Photo Awards and Picture of the Year Awards, and has covered stories often ignored by the mainstream media, including the deadly legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the plight of Iraqi Kurds fleeing the first Gulf War, and the deployment of child-soldiers in Africa. His photographs have been published in National Geographic, Time, Life, Paris Match, Stern and Fortune, as well as on the pages many books.

Voodoo is a name attributed to a traditionally West African spiritual system of faith and ritual practices which are espoused in Haiti (among other places). Haitian Vodouisants believe, in accordance with widespread African tradition, that there is one God who is the creator of all, referred to as "Bondyè" (from the French "Bon Dieu" or "Good God"). Bondyè is often considered the same God of other religions, such as Christianity and Islam. It is the spirits that the Vodouisant turns to for help, as well as to the ancestors. The Vodouisant worships God, and serves the spirits, who are treated with honor and respect as elder members of a household might be.

Les Stone's Voodoo on Digital Journalist.

VII Seminar: Day 2 - Pasadena (Nov 2-4th)

Eric Beecroft completes his report on the VII Seminar in Pasadena:

"After Stanley Greene's phenomenal projection, the schedule called for Digital Railroad and Apple technical seminars- which I didn't attend. It's not that I'm interested; it's that I'm not a tech-head, and it wasn't anything stunningly new or revolutionary.

The post lunch session was a new feature for VII Seminars, now in its sixth or so incarnation: a group showing by young(ish) photographers called "the new photojournalists." These photographers were as diverse as could be in style and content; the only similarity was their strong dedication to the craft (in terms of lifestyle, not just a career), and their amazing ability.

Work was shown by Boogie, Jessica Dimmock, Marcus Bleasdale and Stephanie Sinclair. All of the work was very good; particularly touching was the multimedia piece shown by Jessica Dimmock of her book titled "the Ninth Floor", a long term project on heroin addicts inhabiting an apartment in New York City. It so moving that I saw some tears in the audience.

Stephanie Sinclair showed her work on child marriages. Her presentation was special to me, as she spoke of an accident her mother had - an event which led her directly into conflict photography. Maybe it's just my preference for "humanness" from the photographers, but Stephanie's passion, breaking voice and the obvious emotional consequences of doing this work which really made an impression on me and on the audience.

Marcus's work was a mix of incredible still photos mixed in with gathered audio and video clips from his decade spent in the Congo documenting the conflict there (four million lives lost since 1998); his story on how he started photojournalism was also inspiring- quitting his secure banking job in his mid 20s, buying a ticket to the Balkans, and just going there.

It was also a mixed bag as far as education went- Boogie and Marcus are essentially self taught, with not much of formal photographic eduction- whereas Stephanie and Jessica both followed a more formal course of study. Stephanie was a top newsspaper photographer for seven years before venturing to Iraq; she ended up staying for 2 years, then resettling in Lebanon, and doing the work she really believes in. It just proves that there are many paths to the work we do, none one right for everyone- and all of these photographers are incredibly talented and driven, no matter their background or degrees.

The seminar ended with two show stopping presentations by two veteran- and I'd say almost preternaturally talented- conflict photographers in the world. Ron Haviv, who in my opinion, gave one of the most powerful talks of the seminar. He addressed the photographers' responsibility to document by creating awareness of the world's problems. This was ilustrated with examples from his ten years of work during the Balkans conflict. His photography documentation was crucial evidence against Serbian war criminals during the Hague's war crimes trials, and has almost cost him his life. Ron recounted how the notorious warlord Arkan had a hit out on Ron's head; he was subsequently interrogated, beaten and mock executed by guards in a shack in the woods, and his release had to be arranged by the Russian and French governments.

Further examples of our obligation to produce work with meaning and that creates awareness- and hopefully produces change- came from a great multimedia piece on Los Angeles' gangs and on the crime waves that afflict certain neighborhoods. Ron also showed his most recent work on the long term conflict in Sri Lanka. Not only are his images amazing, but more so, to me, was his absolute and passionate dedication for photojournalism. He practices what he preaches.

Last to present was the living legend Eugene Richards. Unfortunately. I couldn't stay for his whole presentation , as I was exhausted from the long nights and all day onslaught of powerful imagery. For what I saw, his work deserves the legendary label, and he is truly the artist of the VII crew, focusing on social issues and much lesser problems almost all in the United States. Issues from drugs to domestic abuse to cancer and the elderly were shown; Eugene showed through his work that you don't have to travel long distances to foreign lands to tell amazing, powerful, necessary stories- they are right in your backyard.

Let me end with a wrap up of the best quotes (at least those I can remember) from the Seminar. All the presenters, locals and students were marvelous. I'd just like to thank some specifically by name for their generosity, patience with my (at times overeager and very energetic) photo-j students, and for the portfolio reviews, feedback, discussions, dinner, and inspiration that they gave to all who were there. Extra huge thanks to Ron Haviv, Stanley Greene, Chris Morris and his wife; Rick Loomis, Mike Robinson Chavez, Stephanie Sinclair, Marcus Bleasdale, Boogie, Ben Lowy, Jessica Dimmock, Gary Knight, Joachim Ladefoged, Frank Evers, Lauren Greenfield, and the rest.

Now for the quotes:

Boogie: Just go out and shoot...its on the street, right in front of you.

Gary Knight: The photographer's job is to be useful.

Stanley Greene: What you have to do is go, keep trying. I'm not attracted to violence, I'm interested in questions- what makes people do these things...are those things inside of me? I'm a storyteller, with picture, When I started out...I was very bad. People told me I should be a disc jockey. The minute you push the button, you create history. This is what I was made to do; to be a photographer until I die.

To close: rumors are flying, but expect VII seminars internationally, perhaps Europe, maybe Mideast, maybe Asia...who knows ? If you ever have the chance to go, you've got to do it. It's worth much more then the modest admission cost and travel, and it leaves one inspired, working to improve, and with lifelong friends."

Eric Beecroft

Monday, November 5, 2007

‘Tipsy Blackberry & Apple Cupcakes’ ‘Jane Asher Home Baker of the Year 2007

Linda has kindly accepted my invitation to write a 'Guest Posting' for my foodblog. I know that you will enjoy reading all about her very exciting day when she entered the above competition. Her cupcakes look amazing and I couldn't resist asking if she would share this wonderful day, photographs and recipe with us. A truly deserved winner!

Margaret has kindly invited me to do a Guest Posting as I have recently had the great honour of being crowned ‘The Jane Asher Home Baker of the Year Competition 2007'.

I entered the competition online (3 hours before the competition closed). I love creating new recipes and wanted to come up with something that was seasonal, tasty & original.

After an overnight stay at a smart London hotel, hubby, myself and the four other finalists & guests were whisked away to the Good Housekeeping Institute in London for the bake-off. Meeting everyone involved was very exciting - though waiting to start was quite nerve-wracking as I was unsure about using a different oven. As soon as I started baking the nerves melted away, the oven was nowhere near as fierce as mine so I had to whack the temperature up. The judges including Jane Asher & Chef Brian Turner chatted to us whilst we were adding the finishing touches to our recipes. Our cakes were then whisked away to be judged. We then relaxed with our guests & journalists whilst enjoying a lovely champagne buffet. Soon after, we were ushered into the judging room and Jane & each judge spoke about each recipe. When Jane announced my name as the winner I nearly fell over as the competition was very stiff indeed - all the other cakes were truly delicious. My husband’s face was a picture - he was so proud of me. I was literally speechless, overwhelmed & thoroughly chuffed to have won. Along with the title of Home Baker my other prizes were fantastic also. Lots of Jane Asher bake ware, her new book (signed), kitchen textiles, beautiful ceramics & a luxury spa break at the Westin Turnberry Hotel in Scotland. Oh! and a beautiful engraved silver trophy (I get to keep for a year).

I have since appeared in local press, radio (BBC) & television (ITV Anglia) & national magazines. Hubby & I have even been immortalized in a hilarious cartoon in my local Gazette newspaper. I am launching a cookery business in April next year and will make great use of my prizes. I would urge anybody who enjoys baking to enter next year’s competition at (dates for next year to be announced). Believe me if I can win anyone can. Here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go sometime (though it’s a little late for fresh blackberries just now).

‘Tipsy blackberry & apple cupcakes’
Ingredients for cupcakes

225 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
215 grams golden caster sugar
225 grams self raising flour
4 large free range eggs (very lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon Madagascan vanilla extract
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
2 crisp granny smith apples
large shot of ‘sour apple liqueur’ (Luxardo) or use calvados brandy for an even ‘tipsier’ flavour
10-20 grams golden caster sugar (to taste)

filling & topping
500 - 600ml fresh double cream
300 grams fresh blackberries (reserve 12 blackberries to top cupcakes)
splosh of ‘sour apple liqueur’
10-20 grams caster sugar (to taste – depending on tartness of berries)

You will need a sturdy 12 bun muffin tin lined with 12 muffin cases & a large piping bag with a 15ml plain round nozzle.

For best results make sure the baking ingredients are at room temperature and try not over beat mixture once eggs & flour are added.


1. preheat oven to 170-180, gas mark 4 (fan assist 150-160 depending on oven – mine is very fierce so that’s why it seems low temp, adjust accordingly ).
2. peel, chop & gently cook apples, sugar & ‘sour apple liqueur’ in a small covered pan (until very slightly soft). Strain apple and put to one side to cool. Reserve all the lovely apple liquid, as this will be added to whipped cream when cooled.
3. using the same pan put the fresh blackberries, sugar (to taste) & a splosh of ‘sour apple liqueur & cook until ‘jammy’. Leave to cool.
4. in a separate bowl cream butter with wooden spoon adding sugar & vanilla extract beat until light & fluffy.
5. gently mix in the beaten egg & fold sifted flour with a metal spoon.
6. fold cooled apple pieces into cake mixture & add a tablespoon or so of milk if required to ‘slight dropping consistency’ but not too much or apples won’t ‘hold’.
7. using a metal ice cream scoop, spoon mixture into the 12 muffin cases & fill until three quarters full.
8. cook on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Test with skewer. Remove tray from oven & leave for a few minutes. Transfer cupcakes onto wire tray to cool completely.
9. cut out a teaspoon sized piece from top centre of cooled cupcake using a serrated knife. Add a teaspoon of ‘fresh blackberry jam’ into the centre.
10. start to whip the cream (add the reserved ‘apple liquid’ as just as cream begins to thicken). Whisk into soft peaks & just firm enough to pipe. Fill piping bag with cream mixture. Pipe the cupcake with the cream and top with a fresh blackberry.

The cupcakes are best eaten fresh soon after baking. If refrigerated the sponge will become quite ‘dense’ in texture but will still be tasty. © Linda Edmonds Aug 2007