Monday, December 31, 2007



I'm guessing most of you would rather have a drink in a shot glass
in the lead up to 2008, but I used some of the glasses for these mini trifles.

The original recipe says to use Madeira cake but you could use a couple of trifle sponges and substitute the Cointreau for Disaronno an amaretto liqueur.
A couple of comments about the recipe. It is best to beat the mascarpone well before putting a dollop into the glasses. Also, I wouldn't leave them hanging around too long before serving, otherwise they will start to look a little tired!

I nearly forgot to say - one shot glass of this trifle is more than enough and they taste wonderful.

Olive Magazine - January 2007

Serves: 4

8 tablespoons mascarpone, 1 tablespoon icing sugar, cut 2 slices Madeira cake into small chunks, 100g fresh or frozen raspberries, 1 tablespoon flaked almonds.

1. Beat the mascarpone, icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of the Cointreau in a bowl. Divide the cake between 4 small glasses then drizzle over the rest of the Cointreau and spoon in a layer of mascarpone.
2. Gently crush the raspberries (save some for decoration) then divide between the glasses. Spoon the rest of the mascarpone over.
3. Decorate with raspberries and almonds.

Year End 2007

Monastery (Bhutan)- © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The new year promises to be a stellar one! I look forward to be leading two photographic expeditions~workshops in Kashmir (July-August) and Bhutan (October), and to participate in the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico (June). I'm also planning a couple of solo photo trips in March and early winter...and I hope to attend the Angkor Photo festival in Siem Reap whenever it's held. I also have a couple of publishing projects which will come to fruition this year.

This being the last post in 2007, I wish a happy healthy & prosperous 2008 to all The Travel Photographer blog's readers, subscribers and drop-ins. I've received many complimentary emails and messages about this blog over the course of its first year, and I'm immensely gratified that it has contributed something of value to the community of photographers and travelers.

TTP Recap of the Week

For your convenience, here's the past week's (December 23- December 30) most popular posts on TTP:

TTP Photo Of The Year
Bhutan: Photo Expedition
Benazir Bhutto's Assassination

Sunday, December 30, 2007

NPPA's Best of Photojournalism 2008

The National Press Photographers Association announced the 2008 Best Of Photojournalism contest rules which have been posted to its Web site. The contest will officially open for entries on January 2, 2008 and the deadline for all divisions is Feb 1st.

This contest is designed by photojournalists for photojournalists, and is a competition in still and television photojournalism, in picture editing, and Web editing. It's in its seventh year and is claimed to be the world's leading digital photojournalism contest.

Best of Photojournalism 2008

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New York Times: Yemen

Image © Evelyn Hockstein/New York Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a slideshow about Yemen with Evelyn Hockstein's photographs of this stunningly exotic country.

The accompanying article is by writer Tom Downey, and he writes this: " On the main street of Sana’s souk, black-clad shadows — local women — duck into fabric stores to buy colorful garments I’ll never see them wear. Working teenagers huddle next to food vendors, eating boiled potatoes and eggs dipped in coarse salt and bright red pepper. A fruit vendor wearing one thick rubber glove carefully selects a prickly pear from a wheelbarrow and strips off the spiky outer skin. Men and boys wear the curious costume of northern Yemen — a Western suit jacket over a one-piece jalabiya. The crowning accessory is a curved dagger called the jambiya that’s sheathed in a fanciful scabbard belted across the belly."

These daggers are must-wear for most Yemeni men, as well as for their Omani neighbors. It's an accessory that men will not be seen without...perhaps akin to businessmen wearing ties in the West.

Yemen is indeed exotic and its architecture is certainly atypical, and I would love to travel to and in Yemen to photograph. However, and shrugging off the standard alarmist warnings issued by the State Department, street photography is reportedly difficult as -common with the attitude prevalent in some Islamic countries- Yemenis do not wish their wives, sisters and daughters to be photographed. I had a difficult time photographing in the streets of Moroccan cities because of this attitude.

The New York Times' slideshow: Yemen

The New York Times' article:Yemen's Exotic Secrets

Friday, December 28, 2007

Photo Submissions: Elementary Tips

Image © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

A large adventure travel operator has recently requested photo submissions for its annual catalog from its approved photographers, and I thought I'd share with you how I'll go about presenting my submission.

Firstly, the client wants the initial photo submissions in low to medium resolution saved as jpgs. Once the choice has been done, submissions are to be in TIFF or PSD formats at high resolutions scans of 300 dpi. All this is pretty much standard for all photo submissions of this type.

Once I've decided on my photographs, I label each digital image with my name and an ID number. I burn these images on a DVD (or a CD for the initial submission) having grouped them in geographically-named folders (ie Bhutan, Ethiopia, etc). I also prepare a page with thumbnails of the submitted photos and burn that on the DVD or CD, along with a cover letter to the client with my address, and contact details. This too is pretty much standard.

I always use printable media (DVD or CD) and with my inkjet printer get them labeled with my name, copyright notice and client's name. I prefer DVD cases such as the one on the left, which provide more protection and are better looking than the square plastic ones. I print another sheet with the thumbnails, add my name, address, contact on the bottom and insert that in the front of the DVD case.

It presents well, and while it won't necessarily make my images stand out from the competition (I'm sure many photographers do the same or have similar ideas), it looks neat and professional. The days of scribbling on the CD and popping it in a mailer are gone!

News: Batteries' Ban

The US Transportation Department announced that air travelers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning January 1, 2008 to help reduce the risk of fires.

Passengers will still be able to check luggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers. If packed in plastic bags, batteries may be in carryon baggage. The limit is two batteries per passenger.

The ban affects shipments of non-rechargeable lithium batteries, such as the Energizer and Duracell brands.

Details on Safe Travel Dot Gov

Details on TSA

TTP Photo of the Year

Image © Copyright Shiho Fukada-All Rights Reserved

I'm so taken by Shiho Fukada's photographs that I've been racking my brains how to re-post her work on The Travel Photographer. The answer? TTP's Photo of the Year.

So without further ado, here's TTP's Photo of the Year: Shiho Fukada's photograph of a made-up Indian dancer...possibly a Kathakali or Yakshagana performer. The former is a dance of Kerala, while the latter is of Karnataka. The richness of the colors and the judicious use of shadows in this photograph have so impressed me that I've spent an inordinate amount of time just looking at it...trying to burn it in my visual memory in the event that I come across a similar situation.

Shiho Fukuda

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto's Assassination

Image © John Moore/Getty Images-All Rights Reserved

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has very serious implications and consequences for Pakistan and for the United States' national interests in this region. Pakistan's stability is at risk, and the whole region may face chaos and turmoil.

Naturally, our supine and discredited mainstream media is now lionizing Bhutto (or "Buddo" as our illiterate anchors and clownish talking heads pronounce her name) as the beacon of democracy for Pakistan, unwilling to remember that she was dismissed from office for corruption and incompetence..not once, but twice.

Notwithstanding, Bhutto's death is the worst possible outcome, as the Bush administration had been relying on her pro-western leanings to keep Pakistan on its side, and help to reduce the degree of Islamic militancy in that country.

Back to photography: I think that this photograph by John Moore (he seemed to be one of the few photographers to be close to the scene) is just remarkable. This unfortunate man, his trouser legs shredded by the explosion...possibly badly hurt, and certainly in a horrible daze, is still very elegantly attired with his coat still buttoned, shirt and tie undisturbed. His hair is well combed and he seems to be checking if he's unhurt. Yet a few feet away, men lay dying. Incredible.

According to CNN, John Moore said he was about 20 yards away from Bhutto's vehicle when he took his photographs.

Shiho Fukada: The Aravanis

Image © Copyright Shiho Fukada-All Rights Reserved

Shiho Fukada is a New York-based freelance photojournalist, and her work has been published in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, Time, Stern, Le Monde, among others. Her work has also been featured in PDN and Digital Photo Pro Magazine. In 2007 she was named one of the emerging photographers in Digital Photo Pro Magazine.

I am amazed at the quality and depth of her photojournalism as showcased on her website. The three main bodies of work that I found exceptionally powerful are "50 Years Later", "The Aravanis" and "Life In A Brothel". The latter is a three-part essay featuring the stories of sex workers in Bangladeshi brothels. There's a also a multimedia Soundslide essay which I recommend you watch.

The former photo essay is about the Aravanis; these are essentially transgenders and eunuchs, sometimes called hijras. The Aravanis trace their lineage to the Mahabharata. According to the ancient legend, Lord Krishna took a female form to marry Prince Aravan for a single night before Aravan was sacrificed.

Every year this event is celebrated as the Koovagam festival, when thousands of Aravanis dress as brides and marry the deity, Lord Aravan, and consummate the marriage through sex work. The next day they enact the process of widowhood, don white saris and return to their villages, only to shed wearing white after a month of mourning.

This is powerful and compelling photojournalism, and I have spent much time exploring Ms Kukada's website with its various photo galleries and essays. I expect you'll probably do the same.

Shiho Fukuda

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

One Shot: Sune Wendelboe

Image Copyright © Sune Wendelboe-All Rights Reserved

For this One Shot feature, I chose this image of an Embera woman with her child amongst the hundreds of exotic photographs on Sune Wendelboe's website Global Photographic. He's a peripatetic traveler and his website lists dozens of countries he visited and photographed over the course of 12 years. It's an incredible trove of travel imagery, landscapes and ethno-photography, which will impress even the most blase of travel photography enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Sune's biography is conspicuous by its absence on the would've been very welcome.

As background to the above photograph: an estimated population of 15,000 Emberá indians inhabit the Darien rainforest of Panamá. This tribe along with the Wounaan were formerly known as the Choco because they emigrated from the Choco province of Columbia in the late 18th century. Nowadays, they have largely abandoned their traditional hunting and farming, and cater to the tourist trade.

(Thanks for the heads up, Eric.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bhutan: Photo Expedition

Following the success of the 2006 photo expedition to Bhutan, I'm pleased to announce my photo expedition to this Himalayan Kingdom on October 3-17, 2008.

The Bhutan: Land of the Druk Yul photo expedition is set to travel to its heartland, and timed to culminate with the Tamshingphala Tsechu, and the Tangbi Mani festival in the Bumthang valley.

While this is not a workshop per se, interested participants will be helped to create multimedia projects from their inventory of photographs of these festivals.

For those of you who've missed my posts regarding photo travel to Bhutan, I would encourage you to read this post. It will give you something to consider if you're planning to join a photo tour to Bhutan.

To log on to the photo expedition website for further details, go to:

Bhutan: Land of the Druk Yul

TTP: Recap of the Week

For your convenience, here's the past week's (December 17- December 22) most popular posts on TTP:

Kashmir: Photo Expedition-Workshop
Kenro Izu: Life in Bhutan
MSNBC: Best of 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dagmar Schwelle: Planet Tokyo

Image Copyright © Dagmar Schwelle-All Rights Reserved

I really like Dagmar Schwelle's work a lot. I think her photography is intelligent and well-thought out. An Austrian photographer & photojournalist currently based in Germany, she has recently produced a multimedia Soundslides of her photographs while recently in Tokyo. Her compositional style is very interesting, and I find that she frequently uses frames within her photographs. She did that in her earlier work of Istanbul, and now she does it again in Planet Tokyo.

Just take a look at the above photograph of subway riders, and how the girl is framed between one of the arms, and the back of one of the riders...her timing is just perfect. Another photograph in her slideshow is of Sumo wrestlers...check out how well she captured the scene. I sense that Dagmar puts much thought and discipline in her work.

Dagmar Schwelle's Planet Tokyo

Sunday Rant IV

This is not really a rant...really.

As TTP is ad-free, I barely look at emails from companies that offer me discounts to place their ads...but this one was different. This time it was from a company that I like a lot. The email from this reputable photography retail company proposed that if I placed its ad on the pages of TTP, I'd get a commission of 2-3% for every item bought through this mechanism. It's called Affiliate Program.

I replied virtually instantly that, while I was appreciative of the proposal, The Travel Photographer blog would remain ad-free as long as I maintained it. I counter-proposed by asking if the company would support my Kashmir expedition/workshop by offering the same small discount to its participants.

I realize there's an enormous difference between the readership numbers of TTP and the small number of participants in the Kashmir photo workshop. It's obviously a numbers game, and the 12 participants in the workshop may not be worth the trouble from the company's standpoint, but it was worth a try.

There's no answer yet from the company in question, but I'm hopeful. It would engender considerable good will. Am I expecting too much from a successful company that is built on trust, good will and reputation? Perhaps.

Now here's a better rant: A website that seems to aggregate posts relating to cruises and travel, uploads every one of my posts on its pages (with the required link to my blog). Whether my blog posts are about photojournalism, my Kashmir photo expedition or photo contests, they'll be on it, and yes, even my rants get mentioned. It's like having someone repeating every word I say....isn't that annoying?

By the way, the only post of mine that was not copied on this blog is the one in which I extend my wishes to all TTP readers on the occasion of the Muslim celebration of Eid el-Adha.

I wonder why?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Christmas to allKitchen Delights Visitors

Reuters' Pictures of 2007

Image Copyright © REUTERS/Desmond Boylan-All Rights Reserved

Another "Best Pictures of 2007" from Reuters

From the collection, this gruesome photograph is of an Indian Shia Muslim flagellating himself during a procession on the final day of the week-long annual Ashura mourning rite, the highpoint of the Shia religious calendar, in Old Delhi. The self-flagellation is a ritual to mourn the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala.

MSNBC: Best Pictures 2007

It's an annual tradition that in late December most of the mainstream media compile their choice for the best pictures of the year. Here's MSNBC's multimedia feature The Year In Pictures 2007. Some of the photographs are extremely powerful...some are disturbing and graphic. I found the one above by Tian Li to be a vision of hell on earth.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kenro Izu: Life in Bhutan

Image Copyright © Kenro Izu-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a slideshow of Kenro Izu's exhibition of photographs of Bhutan at the Rubin Museum of Arts. I've already posted a few weeks ago about this exhibition and described it as an absolute visual treat, not only because of Izu's mastery, but also because of the exhibition's beautiful installation and ambiance.

The above photograph is of a "Prayer's flag, near Kurjey Lhakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan".

Bumthang is the sacred heartland of Bhutan, and is the focus of my forthcoming photo expedition to that magnificent country. The itinerary is available to members of my mailing list, and will be posted on this blog soon.

Kenro Izu's Life in Bhutan

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tito Dalmau: Rajasthan

Tito Dalmau is a Spanish photographer and architect, whose book Rajasthan: Houses and Men presents a collection of photographs of this region's palaces and people. Tito takes us to the wondrous cities and towns of Rajasthan; the pink city of Jaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur, the holy town of Pushkar, the white city of Udaipur and the mirage-like city of Jaisalmer....passing though a multitude of villages and small towns.

His photographs are deeply saturated with color, some with many shadows...many influenced by his background as an architect, and others of people within the classic parameters of street photography.

Some of my favorite photographs -and there are many amongst the 140 or so in this lovingly produced book- are those that show off the faded texture of the architectural heritage in Rajasthan, an area I know well. Tito seems to rely only on natural light even when photographing interiors, such as in his beautiful photographs of the Bundi Palace. Another stellar example is his photograph of a temple of Jagdish (page 84) that doesn't shy away from showing the contrast of electrical cables chaotically crisscrossing its textured facade...the ancient marred by the necessities of modernity.

Further on, the red-ocher color of the adobe-like huts near Jaislamer jumps from the pages. This powerful color contrasts with the barren Thar desert...and that's what Rajasthan is known for...the dry barren colorless landscape and the exuberant colors of its architectural heritage and of its people.

In some of his photographs, Tito skillfully weaves the hard edges of architecture to the softness of very favorite photograph of the entire book is on page 74, which is of a house's facade, painted in the turquoise/teal color used in Rajasthan, flanked by two parched trees. Two Rajasthani men peer at the photographer...unperturbed but squatting on a red plastic chair, and the other laying on the typical Indian rope-bed. I've seen wonderful scenes like that all over Rajasthan.

The book's introductory text is written by Maka Abraham, and tells the story of each city and palace that Tito Dalmau photographed. I particularly liked this sentence in her text:

There are no half tones in the Thar Desert, where everything the eye rests upon either explodes with life or else constitutes the very image of emptiness; where everything that is not endless wastes of sand, or broken limestone and dry, dusty shrubs, is an astounding mixture of breathtaking colours".

The book is published by Contrasto in a lovely linen cover, and printed in Spain.

Eid el-Adha

Image © Tewfic El-Sawy - All Rights Reserved

Eid Mubarak to all readers of TTP.

Eid el-Adha is a religious festival and observance celebrated by Muslims as a commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael for God (Allah in Arabic). It is one of two main festivals celebrated by Muslims celebrate, and it generally begins with a short prayer followed by a sermon. The celebrations last for four days.

The festival starts on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. This is the day after the pilgrims in Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat.

This year, it's observed on December the main religious observances of the three great Abrahamic traditions have converged this year within a few weeks of each other.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

PDN: Making The Final Cut

I'm always interested in how photo editors make their choices in sifting through photographers' work on return from an assignment, as an example. From a PDN's article, I learned how a Travel & Leisure magazine photo editor made the choices for a "South American Haciendas” story, photographed by David Nicolas.

Out of the 10 images in the PDN article, 5 were rejected and all of these were that a coincidence? That's why I constantly try to photograph horizontals and verticals as much as I possibly can...provided what I photograph lends itself to both. I'd hate for an editor to look at my submissions and say " have that one in vertical (or horizontal)"? Elementary perhaps, but still worthwhile remembering.

I still think photo editors write their own rules, and have their little quirks.

PDN's Making The Final Cut

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kashmir: Photo Expedition & Workshop

I'm pleased to announce that a photo expedition-workshop in Kashmir (India) is planned for July 27-August 9, 2008. The Kashmir: Paradise On Earth photo workshop-expedition is set in this beautiful mountainous area of India, set deep within the Himalayan mountains on its frontier with Pakistan, China and Tibet.

The floating city of Srinagar is the workshop-expedition's base, and the initial days in India will be spent photographing Delhi's Islamic character.

This workshop-expedition will involve extensive fieldwork shooting stories in Delhi and Srinagar (and beyond), one on one portfolio reviews, nightly slideshows, panel discussions, and working dinners.

Eric Beecroft and Tewfic El-Sawy are leading the Kashmir: Paradise On Earth photo workshop-expedition. Both have extensive experience in leading workshops and photo expeditions to India, South East Asia and elsewhere. The workshop is supported by Soundslides, and other corporate support is currently being arranged.

To log on to the photo workshop-expedition website for further details, go to:

Kashmir: Paradise On Earth

Eric Beecroft: Indian Himalayas

Image © Eric Beecroft-All Rights Reserved

Eric teaches photography, photojournalism/documentary photography, history, geopolitcs and anthropology for the Walden School, a public charter school in Utah. He spends a few months a year traveling and leading photo expeditions of high school students and adults.

He's a published writer and poet, with extensive outdoors experience in trekking, backpacking, some rock climbing and sea kayaking work and holds extensive budget travel experience. His photography is mostly documentary work, photojournalism, and adventure/outdoors photography.

He's the visionary behind The Foundry Photo Workshops, which is to hold its first week-long workshop in Mexico City in June 2008. The event will consist of unique classes, a special multimedia creation course, extensive fieldwork shooting stories in Mexico City, one on one portfolio reviews, nightly slideshows by instructors, panel discussions, working dinners, etc.

Eric is also co-leading the Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop scheduled for July 27- August 9, 2008. This workshop-expedition's objective is to help serious photographers, with an interest in photojournalism and documentary photography, refine their skills, and to work with experienced photographers on real reportage projects, in one of the most scenic areas of India, if not in the world.

Eric Beecroft

Monday, December 17, 2007

UNICEF: Photo of the Year 2007

Stephanie Sinclair is the winner of the international photo competition “UNICEF Photo of the Year”. Her winning photo is of a wedding couple in Afghanistan. The groom, Muhammad, looks much older than his 40 years. The bride, Ghulam, is still a child; she just turned 11.

The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 raises awareness about a worldwide problem affecting millions of girls who are married while they are still under age. According to UNICEF, there are about 60 million young women worldwide who were married before they came of age, half of them in South Asia.

UNICEF: Photo of the Year

B&H Plus!

I've dropped by B&H recently, and was thrilled to see that its photography department has been moved to the superstore's new second floor. One walks in and turns to the left, past the cashiers and up an escalator...and wham! a whole floor full of cameras, accessories and associated paraphernalia. Lots of space...many demonstration stations for the major brands of cameras, along with seemingly many more service staff. Sales terminals strategically placed to serve buying clients quickly.

I was at B&H about 2 months ago, and had no inkling that it was expanding.

Sebastião Salgado: Africa

© Sebastião Salgado/courtesy Taschen

American Photo magazine's website lists Sebastião Salgado's Africa as one of the Best Photo Books of 2007.

The article tells us that Salgado, with this retrospective monograph on Africa, returns to his professional origins where he worked as an economist. Some of his critics accuse him of glamorizing poverty, but this book works to show Salgado's talented "ability to cast stories of global economic injustice as one single, Homerian tale of essential human nobility."

American Photo's Best Photo Books of 2007 has a handful of images from Salgado's Africa, however they hardly do justice to his artistry. For that, one has to buy the book.

Sebastião Salgado: Africa

TTP: Recap Of The Week

For your convenience, here's the past week's (December 9- December 16) most popular posts on TTP:

Timothy Allen: Nagaland
100 Eyes: Mardis Gras Event
Marantz PMD 620

Sunday, December 16, 2007


This years Christmas cake has now been iced with Regalice bought from my local sugarcraft shop. Star shapes have been cut from white icing and topped with gold stars bought from Jane Asher. A sprinkling of magic sparkles, and then to complete the look, a wired gold ribbon has been placed around the outside of the cake to match the gold stars.
The cake decoration is very simple but effective and if you are having difficulty thinking how to decorate your cake without having a nervous breakdown, please feel free to copy my new design!
Please take a look at last years Christmas cake.

Season's Greetings

I offer all my readers, whether subscribers to The Travel Photographer blog or whether they're just "walk-ins", my very best wishes on this holiday season.

I started this blog in late January of 2007, thinking it would be all about me, my photography work and my photo tours. Less than 2 days into it, I decided it could never be an egoistic endeavor but that I would also blog about the many talented photographers I come across either personally or through their work on the web. Some are well established, others are emerging, some are working photographers and others will become so...and others have no inkling that they are really talented.

I had no expectations that The Travel Photographer blog would become so popular and read in such large numbers. I'm still surprised. Why people bother to do so is a mystery.

ps. Lest you think that there won't be a rant this Sunday: Don't you just hate it when you see Season's Greetings misspelled as Seasons' Greetings...?

Heaven In Meatpacking District

Last week, Apple opened its newest store a few blocks from me. The new store is America’s second largest and is the first three-level Apple store, with its trademark spiral glass stairway winding all the way up to a third floor devoted entirely to service.

The store's first floor has computers, the second has iPods, iPhones, and related third-party accessories. The “Genius Bar” on the third floor is almost fifty feet long, tended by many of the store’s 175 employees. The store is open every night until midnight.

As I said, Heaven has come to the Meatpacking District...and just in time for the shopping season!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New York Times: Afghan Kites

Image © Tomas Munita/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

From Afghanistan, The New York Times brings us Tomas Munita's photography in a (too) short slideshow titled Back In The Air.

Kite-flying is a traditional pastime in Afghanistan, however it was banned during the Taliban’s rule. Now, flying kites is once again the main recreational escape for Afghan boys and some men. It still remains largely off limits to girls and women. The big kite-fighting day is Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and the objective of the kite fight is to slice the other flier’s string with one's own, essentially disabling it from flying. Kite-fighting string is coated with a resin made of glue and finely crushed glass, which turns it into a blade.

With the release Friday of the film “The Kite Runner,” based on the best-selling novel of the same name, a much wider audience will be introduced to Afghan kite culture.

Kites were invented in China some 2800 years ago, and its use migrated to Japan, Korea, Burma, India, Arabia, and North Africa, then farther south into the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the islands of Oceania as far east as Easter Island. In Bali, annual kite-flying festivals draw teams from all over the country to compete.

Tomas Munita's photographs of Afghan kites on Back In The Air

Friday, December 14, 2007

Marantz PMD 620 Digital Recorder

Thanks to the MediaStorm Blog, I learnt that Jeff Towne on has thoroughly reviewed the new Marantz PMD 620 Digital Recorder. The PMD 620 is Marantz's smallest recorder to date, and the overall verdict is positive.

While the PMD 620 is very small and light, the reviewer reports that it felt very sturdy and well-built. While mostly plastic, there's some well-placed metal components, and the switches and buttons feel solid. It sells for about $400 US.

This digital recorder joins the lineup of small digital recorders such as the MicroTrack II and the Zoom H2 that are ideally suited for multimedia work in the field, and to record ambient sounds for slideshows.

Check the PMD 620's specifications on

Timothy Allen: Nagaland

Image © Timothy Allen-All Rights Reserved

Timothy Allen's bio page of his website tells us that he spent 3 years in Indonesia where his interest in photography began. Upon returning to England he spent 2 years traveling the British Isles until, in the late nineties, he joined an aid convoy to Bosnia in order to work on his first year reportage project. Six months later he had left college, moved to London and begun working for the Sunday Telegraph which lead to commissions from all the British broadsheet publications and finally to a 6 year position at The Independent, working predominantly on features and portraits for the newspaper and magazine titles. Timothy now devotes his time to documenting the diversity of our world's cultures.

His photographs have appeared in many editorial publications, and his work has been included in books and exhibitions. He was also announced as the winner of TPOTY's "One Planet Many Lives" category for his photographs of Bhutan and North Eastern India.

I have just voiced the need for travel photographers to "connect" with their subjects in a recent post, so I'm glad that many of Timothy's photographs show how well he bonded with his subjects. His photographs are largely ethno-photographic in style, and those I like the best are those composed in the shadows and darkness, reminiscent of Jehad Nga's beautiful work.

Timothy Allen's Nagaland, Tripura, Majuli Island

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jessica Dimmock: The Ninth Floor

I have to preface my review of Jessica Dimmock's powerful book, The Ninth Floor, by describing its photographs as raw, unflinching, many of which are frightening and that have dragged me into the depths of a world heroin addicts, for whom there's seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. In a way, I'm glad to have been given the chance of reviewing that book because it forced me out of my"comfort zone", both personally and photographically-speaking.

Jessica's forceful photographs document the drug-addled lives of residents on the ninth floor of a Manhattan's flat-iron district apartment building. For almost three years, she follows these drug addicts in their day-to-day activities, managing to become invisible in the process. While she gained access to the ninth floor residents through the help of a cocaine dealer, how she managed to gain the trust of her subjects is a tribute not only to her photography abilities, but also to her interpersonal skills. It appears that her subjects forgot about her presence, and she effectively became invisible while documenting their vortex of self destruction.

Deservedly, her work is receiving a copious amount of media attention before and following the publishing of The Ninth Floor.

This is documentary photography which, in my opinion, is best described as voyeuristic. Photographs of the apartment dwellers injecting the drugs, sleeping, arguing and fighting, having intercourse, being beaten up by their partners, hospitalized, and begging in the streets are all gripping and repellent at the same time. The self destruction of these people (I almost described them as unfortunate, but I can't) is palpable through Jessica's lens.

As many have said before, I wonder who is the audience for this book. Some in my immediate circle found the photographs to be disturbing and weren't able to go through the whole book, others have found it to be a gripping documentation of hopelessly wasted lives, and others have even suggested that it ought to be mandatory reading for college students.

The book is published by Contrasto, and is very well designed. Its many gatefold pages come almost as a surprise and probably have the best photographs in the book.

There's no question that we will be seeing more of Jessica Dimmock's work in the near future.

MediaStorm has just published a multimedia feature of The Ninth Floor

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New York Times: Afghan Suffering

Image © Tyler Hicks/NYTimes-All Rights Reserved

This is how the New York Times' article starts:

"The Afghan boy crouched near a wall in this remote village, where the Taliban’s strength has prevented the government from providing services. His eyes were coated by an opaque yellow sheath. Sgt. Nick Graham, an American Army medic, approached. The villagers crowded around. They said the boy’s name was Hayatullah. He was 10 years old and developed the eye disease six years ago. “Can you help him?” a man asked.

Sergeant Graham examined the boy. He was blind. There was nothing the medic could do."

The photographs in the accompanying slideshow feature is by Tyler Hicks, one of my favorite photojournalists, and they ram home the fact that Afghanistan is strangled by underdevelopment, governmental corruption and incompetence, poverty, illiteracy and by the regressive ideology of the Taliban.

There's no question in my mind that the only way to defeat this repellent ideology is by doing exactly what the American Army medics are doing...and expanding it further. Not only is it the humanitarian thing to do, but it offers what the Taliban seem incapable of providing: compassion for human beings and for fellow Muslims...a fundamental tenet of Islam.

Tyler Hicks' photographs are here

The article is by C.J. Chivers, and is here

Pop Photo: 2007 Readers' Photo Contest

Image Copyright © Snehendu Kar-All Rights Reserved

Popular Photography magazine has announced results of its 2007 photo contest, and awarded one grand prize and six stand-outs in the categories of Action/Sports, Architecture, Candid/Humor, Nature, People, and Travel.

In the Travel category, I particularly liked the photograph of the Chinese fishing nets in Cochin (India) by Snehendu Kar of Los Angeles.

Popular Photography 2007 Readers' Photo Contest

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mardis Gras Photo Event

This event is a terrific concept, and a tribute to those who engineered it.

“Mardi Gras 2008, 360 Degrees” is a hybrid photo event and workshop that seeks to bring photographers together to document the ritual that defines New Orleans and illuminates the city’s culture two years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Activities are planned the week before Mardi Gras, including workshops and presentations by established professionals and industry parters. Photographers will team together to edit their own work and uploaded to the event's servers, then reviewed by a team of editors. The selected photographs are toA terrific idea be printed for immediate display, salon style, and offered for sale to the public, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the New Orleans Photo Alliance.

This program is intended for professional and advanced photographers who want to further hone their artistic and editorial skills in the context of a competitive environment.

The grassroots project “Mardi Gras 2008, 360 Degrees” is partnership of members of the Lightstalkers virtual photographic community, 100eyes, an organization created to promote collective work of photographers, and the New Orleans Photo Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the profile of the New Orleans photography community.

Mardi Gras 2008, 360 Degrees

WP: China's Divider of Sexes

Image © Andrea Bruce/Washington Post-All Rights Reserved

The Washington Post featured Andrea Bruce's brilliant work in a slideshow titled China's Great Divider of Sexes: Poverty. Andrea's photograph above of Chen Maiya preparing breakfast for her neighbors is Vermeer-like in its luminosity. Deservedly, this slideshow feature received an award in the Best of Photojournalism 2007 (Feature Photo Gallery).

Andrea Bruce graduated with a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and joined the staff of the Washington Post, where she began to chronicle the world's most troubled areas. Her pictures from the Iraq War have been published widely and have garnered international acclaim.

The accompanying article by Maureen Fan reports on Dacitan, a village in the foothills of China's poorest provinces, run almost entirely by women, mothers who work the fields while their husbands are away. Dacitlan is a Muslim village populated by members of the ethnic Hui minority, and is a stark example of the cost of China's blistering economic growth.

The combination of Andrea's slideshow and Maureen's article makes for a fascinating read.

The Washington Post's China's Divider slideshow.

The Washington Post's China's Divider article.

Monday, December 10, 2007

TPOTY Results 2007

Image © Timothy Allen-All Rights Reserved

I just received notice from the organizers of the Travel Photographer Of The Year contest announcing the 2007 winners.

According to TPOTY's announcement, it received entries from 51 countries in 2007, covering every continent and, for the first time, we saw entries from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine. Over the three rounds of judging, 14 judges assessed this year's entries.

The overall winner of the Travel Photographer Of The Year title is Cat Vinton, a UK-based photographer for her work in a Mongolia.

However to me, the most interesting category was "One Planet Many Lives" won by Timothy Allen for his work in Bhutan and Nagaland, followed by Larry Louie's work on Tibetan worship. It's been an excellent year for the talented Larry, since he also won recognition in the National Geographic contest as I wrote last week.

TPOTY's One Planet Many Lives

TTP: Recap of the Week

For your convenience, here's the past week's (December 2- December 8) most popular posts on TTP:

National Geographic Photo Contest
Sunday Rant III
Origami Flash Diffuser

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Bhutanese Granny

Image Copyright © Ralph N. Childs-All Rights Reserved

This image of me chatting up a Bhutanese grandmother was photographed by Ralph Childs, a friend and participant in my Bhutan Photo-Expedition.

We were walking towards the Jambay Lakhang monastery before the start of the annual tsechu, and I was trying to convince the grandmother to allow me to photograph her...but with no success. It was in good humor, and we had many laughs as I conveyed to her that I would marry her and she'd fly back to New York City with me. I guess she understood my meaning but kept gesturing me away with flicks of her hand...naturally, to the great hilarity of her companions, who had urged her to take me up on my offer....but she wouldn't budge. Not terribly uplifting for my ego, but occasional rejection does teach one humility.

Our exceptional guide/fixer, Sagar can be seen walking behind us, keeping a wary eye on the going-ons, and wearing his traditional orange cho, the typical garb worn by most Bhutanese.

I use this photograph to make the point that travel photographers know well: to make good photographs one must make contact...establish a dialog and make friends. I saw many tourists at these festivals, photographing away from a distance...mostly standing back and unwilling/unable/not thinking of engaging the local spectators. Had they chatted with the locals, exchanging good humored banter and even hand gestures, their photographs would reflect that 'relationship', and would've come alive.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I've made apple pie with so many twists in the past, I think I could write a book. I love apple pie with a top and bottom crust - with more satisfying pastry to eat, but then again......there is lots of apple filling when it is made in a deep dish with just a top crust!
I bought a collection of enamelled plates and dishes several years ago before they became popular with food stylists. If you go to the hardware shop you will be able to pick these up and they are relatively inexpensive.
Nora Sands came to the publics attention through Jamie Oliver's School Dinners Campaign and has now written her own cookery book. There are several tempting recipes - Sticky Messy Ribs, Stir-fry with Oodles of Noodles or how about Choca-block?
There is a section called 'Have you seen these vegetables'? or how about 'Make friends with your vegetables'.
It isn't easy finding time to cook with your children but the recipes in this book are fun, easy to make and it's good, honest family food.
Now, back to the apple pie. The cooking apples and granny smith apples combination worked well or you could use Cox's apples.

The pastry is buttery and crisp - unfortunately it doesn't cut very well without breaking up. Perhaps it would be better if the pastry is gently scored into portions before baking.
I've made this pie several times now and I can't make up my mind whether its the pastry I love, the apples or the cinnamon. Whatever it is, we just love it!


ISBN 0007206615 - Page 136

Serves: 4

400g plain flour, pinch of salt, 160g butter, 4 tablespoons cold water, 3 medium cooking apples, 4 granny smith apples, 160g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, small amount of milk for brushing the pastry.
You will need: 23cm round baking dish.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.
2. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the cold water. Bring together to make a ball of dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put into the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Peel and core the apples, slice the apple thinly.
4. Take pastry dough out of the fridge and roll into a circle a little bit bigger than the widest part of your dish. Use the excess pastry to make a rim around the edge of the baking dish. Brush this with cold water.
5. Put the sliced apples into the baking dish. Sprinkle the 160g sugar and the cinnamon over the top of the apples and mix it all in.
6. Lay your rolled pastry over the top and pinch the edges down around the edge of the baking dish. Cut away any excess pastry.
7. With a fork make some holes in the pastry so that the steam from the apples can escape during cooking.
8. Put the pie in the fridge for 20 minutes for the pastry to rest.
9. Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
10.Bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 cook for another 30 minutes.
11. Serve with ice cream.

Atacama Desert: Multimedia

Here's a lovely combination of photography, audio, interactive maps, and design in a multimedia package that will inspire all of us who see this type of media as being one of the inevitable next steps in photojournalism....and in editorial or documentary travel photography.

It centers on the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, which is the driest place on earth. Stretching 600 miles from Peru's southern border, there are parts where rainfall has never been recorded. However the Atacama is also home to more than a million people who find refuge in coastal cities, mining camps and oasis towns. There are vibrant communities, artisans, toughened workers and a devoted group of astronomers taking advantage of this unique environment.

It's really too long to view in one sitting as it's a comprehensive study of the Atacama desert, so I started off with the section on the people...always the more interesting. The main backing for the project is from the Institute for Science Learning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Atacama Desert

Friday, December 7, 2007

Newsha Tavakolian: Iran

Image © Newsha Tavakolian-All Rights Reserved

Newsha Tavakolian is a photojournalist working for Iranian press and media. She worked internationally in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. She has been published in Time magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Figaro and the New York Times.

I chose one of her very interesting photo essays for TTP: Entitled The Day I Became A Woman, it gives us a glimpse into the Shi'a Islam tradition that upon reaching the age of 9, a girl is considered a woman. In Teheran schools, that day is celebrated as Jashne Taklit, or "celebration of responsibility". While it's a largely symbolic celebration, it's from that day onwards that the girls have to wear a headscarf and start daily prayers at school. The girls are called "Angels", and although their parents may be secular or non-traditionalists, it's an important day in the lives of the families and their children.

Newsha Tavakolian's The Day I Became A Woman

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Olivier Föllmi : Africa

Image © Olivier Föllmi-All Rights Reserved

Olivier Föllmi is one of my favorite travel photographers, along with Eric Valli. He developed a passion for the Himalayas at the age of 18 and lived there for more than 20 years. Since 2003, he has traveled the world with his wife to capture on film the soul of the people featured in the series Offerings for Humanity.

I wandered along High Street Kensington this afternoon, and visited Waterstone's where piles upon piles of photography books are on display (presumably for the Christmas season). I had the pleasure of leafing through Föllmi's magnificent book Africa, which took the better part of an hour.

I've had the privilege of photographing in the north and south of Ethiopia, and through Föllmi's splendid images of the Omo tribes, and the devout Christian priests and deacons of Lalibela, I relieved that wonderful experience.

The book's 200 or more photographs, from the deserts of Namibia to the grasslands of Cameroon, from the Himba shepherds to the Hamar tribes, this book reveals fascinating cultures and peoples. It's available from online bookstores for $35...a very reasonable price, and much cheaper than here in London!!

Föllmi's website could be improved with higher resolution photographs, but it still holds interesting information about him, his philosophy and his work.

Olivier Föllmi

Origami Flash Diffuser

As my readers know, TTP is ad-free and I only mention or post on products that I've either tested and used myself, or read articles on them in publications that I generally trust. The Origami by Gary Fong falls into the second category. I read about it in PDN's Objects of Desire section, and thought it was an interesting contraption to have in one's pocket when using a flash.

When I do use a flash, I use a white card secured on my flash with an elastic band, and this works reasonably well most of the time...but perhaps the Origami will do better?

The Origami is a diffuser that can be swung into the flash's light path, and is foldable (hence the name), taking virtually no space in one's bag or even pocket. Although I rely on natural light as much as possible, I think I'll order one and see if it lives to its hype. It's currently on sale for $30.

Gary Fong's Origami

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Varanasi Widow

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

While in Varanasi photographing the extraordinary Sufi rituals at the Bahadur Shaheed shrine, I encountered this centenarian who was sheltered in a decrepit building overlooking the Manikarnika ghat, where most of the cremations are performed. Through an interpreter, I learned that Bai Dehi was a widow from Bihar, who lived in the building awaiting her death. She, as other Hindus, believes that if she died in Varanasi she would achieve 'moksha' and freed from the cycle of reincarnation.

Her voice was barely audible, not more than a hoarse whisper, and I seriously thought her to be near death, but I was told she was relatively active, and had lived for years in her small area with her meager possessions. While I photographed her, she sat there patiently as if she had seen it all before...I wouldn't be surprised if she had.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Phil Borges: Abay's Return

Image Copyright © Phil Borges-All Rights Reserved

Three years ago, Phil Borges partnered with the organization CARE to bring attention to the necessity of empowering women in the global campaign to alleviate poverty. He traveled to Africa, Asia and South America to gather the stories of extraordinary women in remote parts of the world who have empowered themselves and their communities.

Abay was born in the Afar region of eastern Ethiopia, into a culture in which young girls are circumcised. However, Abay refused despite being told that an uncircumcised woman would be ostracized and could never marry. She ran away, and returned to her village after 8 years later to work as a CARE station agent.

This is her story.

Abay's Return Video on Phil Borges' website

Abay's Return Video on CARE's website

American Photo: Emerging Artists 2007

Image Copyright © Jehad Nga-All Rights Reserved

American Photo magazine recently published its Emerging Artists: A New Generation of Photo Pioneers, a feature showcasing the work of 15 imagemakers.

From an initial list of approximately 100 nominees, judges for American Photo magazine chose 28 finalists, each of whom was asked to submit 15 images. The five judges were Michelle Bogre, chair of the photography department at Parsons The New School for Design; Brian Paul Clamp, owner of the ClampArt gallery in New York; David Maloney, a representative at the Art Department agency; Deborah Mauro, American Photo's art director; and commercial and editorial photographer Platon.

From their selections came the 15 photographers featured in Emerging Artists 2007.

There's no question that for me it is the work of Jehad Nga that is the most impressive. His beautiful work is full of shadows, with areas of brightness contrasting with areas of darkness. I posted his work a few times on TTP, and I'm pleased that American Photo has chosen him as one of the top 15.

American Photo magazine's Emerging Artists 2007