Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greg Cohen: Laos

Photograph © Greg Cohen-All Rights Reserved

Greg Cohen is originally from the East Coast, and is now living in Los Angeles. His biography tells us that he first picked up the camera in Tennessee in 1993, while living in the Smoky Mountain region. He has lived throughout the United States photographing along the way, and is now developing projects in central Africa and Southeast Asia.

I've chosen a photograph from Greg's portfolio of Laos to illustrate this post, but I urge you to explore the rest of his galleries...I stopped at one of his photographs in his India gallery of a young person (probably a girl because of the henna markings) with the most wonderful of expressions. It's #12 and was photographed in Cochin. In my view, an award winning candid photograph!

Greg Cohen

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dilemma: Keffiyeh or Krama?

The blogosphere (and cable news) are buzzing with the hilarious news that a bunch of ideologues forced Dunkin Donuts to pull an ad featuring a celebrity chef because she was wearing what was erroneously seen as a keffiyeh. The ideologues of course, consider the keffiyeh as a "symbol of violence and of anti-Israel sentiments".

This utter stupidity is compounded by the fact that the scarf is a traditional head gear worn by many tribal societies in the Middle East. The king of Saudi Arabia (currently our administration's best friend, our suppliers of oil and buyers of our government's Treasury Bills) wears one...the king of Jordan (another of our allies) wears one, as well as members of Jordan's elite military forces.

But setting this silliness aside...what are photographers and photojournalists to do now? Do we wear our keffiyehs (right) and risk being labeled as Arab sympathizers by xenophobes? What if we wore our krama (left) scarf instead? Would we be labeled as Khmer Rouge sympathizers? Oh my gosh, this is a "serious" dilemma, folks.

POV: Technogeek vs Luddite?

A recent email received from a photographer questioning technological advancements affecting our business made me think about how these made it so much easier for me to manage and operate my photo expeditions.

One of these tech advances is the blog, which can be harnessed, not only to tell the world of one's periodic musings, fantasies, etc, but to maintain a record of each photo expedition's experiences. This is true for me, as a photo expeditions leader, and for the expeditions' participants with their own blog journals.

For instance, while on a photo-expedition or on a solo photo assignment, I always carried a Moleskine notebook, in which I would scribble each day's events, filling it with notes, ideas, sketches and information. I still do that on occasions, but my current preferred method of maintaining a journal of my photo expeditions and assignments is in a private blog.

At the end of each day in the field, I devote an hour or so on my laptop to type up the day's main events, key points to remember, impressions and ideas, for eventual transferral to a blog. This creates a useful (and easily accessible) source of referral whenever I need it. My final verdict on each of my photo expeditions is also entered, and that allows me to refine and improve future expeditions.

I maintain yet another private blog in which I amass all sorts of useful and usable information; from affordable hotels in Delhi (difficult these days), recommended guides/fixers' names and contacts to exotic rituals and festivals. A sort of compendium that I can call on when I plan any of my photo expeditions.

Yes, it is sad that writing journals in longhand is on the wane...dusting off an old journal and reading its contents is romantic...but technological advancements are so practical and are such good time-savers that it's difficult to resist them.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mahesh Shantaram: Shanghai

Photograph © Mahesh Shantaram-All Rights Reserved

Having seen my post on Justin Guariglia's Planet Shanghai a few days ago, Mahesh Shantaram reminded me that he was very recently commissioned to work on a photographic project featuring the urban culture of Shanghai.

Mahesh tells us" In these images, there are two streams of narrative running in parallel. In the background is the infrastructure story, for which Shanghai is reputed. In the foreground is street documentary photography that plays on some of the social observations I made during my eventful stay. Together, they put a human face to infrastructure development in one of the greatest cities of the 21st century."

He's right. His photographs have two strings running through them; the urban background and the traditional street photography with blurry characters. An interesting viewpoint.

Shanghai: Model City

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alessandra Meniconzi: Hidden China

I've written about Alessandra Meniconzi over a year ago, and consider her one of the best travel photographers I've come across. She's a travel photographer in a classic sense, and her work is pure travel photography with no ambivalence.

Her biography reveals that she was born in Lugano and studied graphic design. She specializes in Asian countries, and prefers the wilderness as well as documenting the daily lives of ethnic minorities. Her exploration of the peoples of the ancient trade routes required her to make several trips to Asia over a 10-year period to document the people and cultures of the "Silk Road", the 2,000-year-old trade route linking the Orient and the Occident.

Her new book "Hidden China" will be published in Fall 2008, and will be available from Amazon and other bookstores.

Alessandra's website features her superb landscapes and portraits of ethnic minorities. Here are her images of China. Her website would benefit from a facelift, but I guarantee you'll be spending a lot of time exploring her galleries.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


"A chef called Ben, who used to work with Nick Nairn's good friend Phil Vickery, created this fab curry". The original recipe is apparently from Phil Vickery's book, Simply Food, and Nick Nairn tells us that he makes this recipe "when I'm in the mood for a quick curry fix".

I love home cooked curry and this recipe is full of amazing flavours without being too hot.

Instead of the canned coconut milk, I use powdered coconut milk by Maggi, and all you do is measure an amount out according to the packet instructions, then add warm water and stir to give coconut milk. I buy mine from the Asian stall in my local market unfortunately, I haven't seen it in a supermarket.


ISBN 0563487046 - Page 108

Serves: 8 (but can easily be scaled down).

You will need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
900g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3cm cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh root ginger
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can coconut milk
450ml chicken stock
4 tablespoons mango chutney
250g baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
200g Greek-style yoghurt
freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
boiled rice and naan bread, to serve

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the chicken cubes. Quickly fry the cubes until lightly browned all over. Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen paper.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pan, together with the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook gently for a few minutes until softened and golden brown. Add the flour and spices and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and return the chicken cubes to the pan. Add just enough stock to cover them, scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Lastly, stir in the chutney and add the spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach has just wilted, and then stir in the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some boiled rice and naan bread. Delicious.

Abbas: Soul Hunt: Magnum In Motion

Here's a multimedia slideshow featuring photographs by Abbas from the Magnum website. It's about pagan rituals, performed by the shamans of Siberia, the Voodoo in Haiti, the Dogon of Mali, the Shinto in Japan, and the Bari of the Amazon.

Having photographed the Indonesian traditional healers in Bali, I was naturally very interested in seeing this body of work. While I deem Abbas' work to be superlative, I have to say that this slideshow is disappointing. I fault its unimaginative production rather than the photographs...which appear muddy (is it the compression for the slideshow?). It is uninformative, and I had to visit the thumbnail page to read background information on the photographs, as the slideshow itself has no captions or narration. What it does have is a truly awful soundtrack. Too bad.

Abbas (he only uses his first name) is an Iranian photojournalist living in Paris, France. He has covered wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa during apartheid. He photographed the revolution in Iran, to which he returned in 1997 after seventeen years of voluntary exile.

His interest in religion led him in 2002 to start a new long-term project about the clash of religions, defined as culture rather than faith, which he believes are replacing political ideologies in the strategic struggles of the contemporary world.

Abbas' Soul Hunt

Canon 5D Mark II Book?

I promised myself I wouldn't add fuel to the fire, but members of the DPreview forums have seen a 5D Mark II Field Guide listed on Amazon. The book has a release date of November 10, 2008 and a price of $20. The author and publisher are the same as the ones for the 5D Mark I field guide, which you can buy now online or in a bookstore or camera shop.

The Photokina Fair is scheduled for the third week of September 2008, and it may be a logical venue for an official release for the Canon 5D Mark II...while the release date for the book is November 10.

I've taken a partial capture of the Amazon screen (above) just in case it's taken down.

Via Imaging Insider/1001 Noisy Cameras

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The Travel Photographer will not be posting over the long Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Show Off: Whirling Dervishes

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Here's another of my weekly Show-Off features with an example of my personal photography on The Travel Photographer's blog. Click on the photograph to view it larger size. I used one of Lightroom 2.0 standard presets to accentuate the photograph's colors.

It was photographed in Istanbul while Mevlevi dervishes perform a sema ceremony with a traditional orchestra at Istanbul's Galata Mevlevihanesi in Beyoglu. The sema is derived from Jalaluddin Rumi's habit of occasionally whirling in ecstatic joy in the streets of Konya. The whirling dances are just one of the physical methods used to try to reach religious ecstasy in Sufism.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Justin Guariglia: Planet Shanghai

Justin Guariglia's latest book, Planet Shanghai, is his attempt to preserve the city's unique culture, traditions and its people. The ICP will be having a book signing event with Justin Guariglia on Friday, May 23 (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm) at its store on 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street, NYC.

Here are some samples from Planet Shanghai

From the New Yorker magazine:

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in Shanghai while wearing pajamas. In recent years, Shanghai newspapers have worried that this sartorial habit will give the city a slovenly image, but it seems that many natives see little divide between public and private space. Justin Guariglia, an American photographer who lived in Asia for nearly a decade, captures the city in its most informal moments. His book includes dozens of portraits of pajama’d Shanghainese: visiting the supermarket, riding motorcycles, walking dogs, playing mah-jongg, going to McDonald’s, smoking cigarettes. Guariglia works close to the ground; he shoots the undersides of bridges and the sheen of vegetables at the market, and includes no fewer than sixteen pages of footwear, a common Chinese obsession. His search for street style uncovers moments of unexpected beauty: a rainbow pile of scrap wire, a heart-shaped decoration on an anti-theft gate, a boarded-up door crisscrossed with lines as straight and true as a calligrapher’s best brushwork.

Ben Curtis: Bakhtiari Wedding

Photograph © Ben Curtis/AP-All Rights Reserved

Ben Curtis of SnapperTalk blog, brings us his work on a Bakhtiari Wedding while traveling in Iran. The audio was captured using a Zoom H2. Listening to the soundtrack, you'll hear the women's ululations, an ancient and traditional form of celebratory expressions in the Middle East and beyond.

The Bakhtiaris, who are Shi'a Muslims and speak a Persian dialect known as Luri, are one of two main nomadic groups in Iran, along with the ethnic Turkic Qashqai group. Iran has one of the largest nomadic populations in the world, an estimated 1.5 million in a country of some 70 million, according to the government's agency for nomad affairs.

Ben Curtis is currently based in Cairo, Egypt where he is Middle East Photographer & Photo Editor for the Associated Press.

Here's Ben Curtis' Bakhtiari Wedding

National Geographic Assignment

As reported by PDN Online, the National Geographic Society launched a new photo assignments division to handle commercial representation for 27 photographers.

National Geographic Assignment will represent the following photographers: William Albert Allard, Stephen Alvarez, Ira Block, John Burcham, Jimmy Chin, Jodi Cobb, Pablo Corral Vega, Bruce Dale, David Doubilet, Annie Griffiths Belt, Justin Guariglia, Bill Hatcher, Beverly Joubert, Tim Laman, David Liittschwager, Michael Melford, Michael Nichols, Paul Nicklen, Michael O’Brien, Randy Olson, Jim Richardson, Joel Sartore, Brian Skerry, Steve Winter, Gordon Wiltsie, Alison Wright and Mike Yamashita.

The new division will be managed by Alice Keating, a 13-year veteran of Geographic's stock and syndication arm, the National Geographic Image Collection.

Via The Click

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This time with leftover egg whites from another recipe, I have made Berry Meringues

I added a couple of teaspoons of Supercassis to each of the berry filled ramekins for the grownups!

A bag of frozen mixed berries always comes in very useful for rustling up some last minute muffins. Summer pudding and berry crumble are also very successful. Another quick favourite is a meringue nest filled with sweetened defrosted berries and topped with Greek yogurt. The list of possibilities from just one frozen bag of mixed berries is endless - definitely one of my freezer favourites.


ISBN 9781921259036 - Page 371

Serves: 6 people

You will need:

4 egg whites
230g caster sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
500g frozen mixed berries
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas2
2. Beat the egg whites using electric beaters until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.
3. Scatter the berries into a 25cm oval ovenproof dish or 150ml ramekins.
4. Spoon or pipe the meringue over the top. Bake the large meringue for 45 minutes and the ramekins for about 30 minutes, or until the meringue is golden and cooked through.
5. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Marie Arago: Oaxaca

Photograph © Marie Arago-All Rights Reserved

Marie Arago is a Brooklyn-based photographer, who studied film at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and photography at the ICP in New York. She spent many years photographing in Cuba, and worked for a newspaper in Costa Rica.

I spent a while deciding between her Mercado in Oaxaca gallery or her Cuban gallery for posting to TTP, and opted for the former...only because I've been in Oaxaca in February so it's fresh in my mind. I liked the above photograph taken in a market in Oaxaca the most from her gallery.

Epson: James Nachtwey Interview

Epson has put together a new website called Focal Points which features a number of stories, both written and in video (mov format) showcasing a number of photography's leading professionals, as well as their work with Epson products.

There are quite a few photographers' interviews, but I chose the James Nachtwey interview to feature here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

B&H Digital Audio Recorders Guide

Here's a useful comparison of various digital audio recorders from B&H's Sam Mallery's newsletter.

From the newsletter: "All of the recorders in this article were designed to capture professional-quality audio. Great care has gone into the design of the built-in microphones and inputs. They are used in broadcasting, professional journalism, music production, podcasting, and by hobbyists. These are more than just Dictaphones— they are professional audio recorders with better signal to noise ratios, more file quality options, and file compression capabilities.

My hat's off to Ralph Childs for the link.

Jim McKinniss: Venice

Jim McKinniss is a photography enthusiast, who taught university mathematics and owned a small company providing database design and programming services to large corporations and medium size businesses.

He uses a Canon 1Ds Mark II and his favorite lenses for travel are the Canon EF 16-35mm L zoom, a 100mm macro prime, and a 200mm L prime. His photographic interests are wide, and his past and continuing projects include the study of ghost towns, all things old, motion studies and abstracts of the designs of naturally occurring processes.

Jim McKinniss' website is courtesy of Double Exposure (, and I recommend you view his two most interesting galleries: Venice and Cuba.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New York Photo Awards Winners

The winners of the 1st New York Photo Awards were announced Friday 16, 2008 in Brooklyn, New York.

According to the PDN article, the awards ceremony had a casual feel, as attendees braved a rainy night to pack into the St. Ann's Warehouse performance space near the Dumbo waterfront.

The winners in the Editorial category - single (tie) were Ibraheen Abu Mustafa and
Adem Hadei. For other winners, visit the link.

Travel Photographer Of The Year

I received an email from the organizers of the Travel Photographer Of The Year announcing its 2008 photo competition.

As a matter of principle, I do not participate in photo competitions of this sort, however I've been told by a reader of this blog (and a past participant -and winner- in TPOTY) that the competition is professionally managed and competently judged.

Nevertheless, caveat emptor or whatever the appropriate Latin expression is, and read the terms and conditions very carefully before you send in your travel masterpieces.

TTP Recap of the Week

For your convenience, here's the past week's (May 12 - May 18, 2008) most popular posts on TTP:

Soundslides Full Screen: Verdict
POV: Hug Your Audience
Canon Rebates

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nevada Wier: Adobe's Showcase

Nevada Wier's Far Corners of The World Revealed is being shown in an Adobe promotional web feature, which is novel and innovative. The episode featuring her imagery is episode #2 and since the web site is Flash-based, I can't give you the direct link to it, but the website's link is Adobe Creative License. You need to click on episode #2.

The feature is graphic-intensive, and requires a fast connection.

(Via Nevada Wiers' blog)

Soundslides Full Screen: Verdict

I've now downloaded the fullscreen playback Soundslides Plus which was just released in beta form, and found it to be a brilliant step forward for this product, which as you can easily guess, I'm a fan of.

I spent a few minutes creating a 'super-sized' slideshow, which allows viewers to the full screen option on their monitors. The slideshow will be shortly uploaded to my website.

The updated Beta version of Soundslides can be downloaded from here

Other competing products such as Fotomagico and Photopresenter may be equally good, but since I've started to use Soundslides I found it to be ideally suited to my requirements. My experience with its customer service has been perfect, prompt and efficient.


I'm trying to think sunshine at the moment, and how hot it was last weekend as we made our way from the West Midlands to Broadfield Court at Bodenham in Herefordshire. This is the home of Bodenham English Wines where you can taste wines from Broadfield's vineyards, wander around the Old English gardens or pop into the award winning Tearoom for a piece of their wonderful coffee cake and a cup of coffee.
Note: English Wine Week takes place 24th May to the 1st June 2008.

We decided to then move on to a National Trust venue - The Weir, near Hereford. This is a 1920's riverside garden with an abundance of wildflowers and beautiful views along the River Wye and the Herefordshire countryside.

Next onto Hay-on-Wye (apparently twinned with Timbuktu!) situated between Brecon and Hereford.

Hay-on-Wye is home to shop after shop selling books. A cookery book addicts dream come true - wall to wall cookery books. Well, what are you waiting for?

It's The Guardian Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye (Hay's literary festival) from 22nd May to the 1st June 2008 and up to 80,000 people descend upon this small town every year. Not just to buy cookery books though!! Take a look at the list of people who will be appearing at the Hay Festival.

Then onto our final destination - Llanwrtyd Wells (the smallest town in Britain)located in Mid Wales, home to the Red Kite. It's here at the AA 2007-2008 Restaurant of the Year (Wales), The Carlton Riverside, we had booked an overnight stay. This restaurant holds three AA Red Rosettes and Mary Ann Gilchrist creates the most amazing food. We make the journey every year to this hotel. You will find people from all over the country at this restaurant, the majority returning once they have experienced her excellent food.

We returned home to the West Midlands taking in the most stunning views of the Mid Wales countryside. Sadly, many tourists only think about North and South Wales, little wonder they say 'Secret Mid-Wales'. Ssh! don't tell anyone.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Douglas Menuez: The Orphans of Uganda

Douglas Menuez began his career photographing for the Washington Post, then moved to Time, Newsweek, Life, People and Fortune Magazine and many other publications worldwide over the past twenty years.

He’s covered major news stories including the famine in Ethiopia, the destruction of the Amazon, the AIDS crisis, drug wars, presidential campaigns, the Olympics, five SuperBowls and the World Series.

Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda follows the journey of 20 orphans who overcame tremendous hardships to form a dance troupe and become cultural ambassadors for their troubled country. They have brought their intense energy and joy to audiences across the US over the past ten years, which have resulted in their support of more than 700 orphans in Uganda. Rising from the extreme poverty and devastation wrought by AIDS and civil war in Uganda to receive standing ovations while touring the best theaters in the US, these exceptional children bring good news from Africa.

For further work from Menuez, go here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Soundslides Full Screen!

The fullscreen playback Soundslides Plus has just been released in (beta). According to the release notes, the highlights of the new beta release are:

- Full screen playback (Plus only)
- Multiple jpeg image import now available under the Slides tab's "Add image" button
- Re-importing shorter duration audio no longer resets timing points. All timings are preserved now.
- Application now correctly reads the EXIF image rotation data from imported JPEG files and rotates accordingly on import
- Application now creates a .ssproj project file, this file will launch the associated project in Soundslides or Soundslides Plus when double clicked or dragged to the application icon
- Application displays a warning dialog if quit with unsaved changes
- "Clear recent menu" item added to the File menu
- Project folder name now appears in title bar
- Fixed potential compatibility issue with the video plug-in on OS X Leopard
- Improved error handling when importing images and audio

It can be downloaded from here


Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Thank you to the 640pixels blog for including The Travel Photographer in its
5 Websites Every Photographer Should Visit Often listing. It puts my blog in very august company.

I thought the above photograph of an Indian woman at a Varanasi shrine, and offering prasad as a gesture of thanks, is appropriate for this post.

My Show-off: Pankawallah

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

This is my second photograph for the Show-Off feature with an example of my personal photography on The Travel Photographer's blog. Click on the photograph to view it larger size. I used Lightroom 2.0 to accentuate the photograph's saturation. It was photographed with a Canon 28-70mm 2.8L at 28mm 1/60 sec at f 7.1

This is Muhammed Jashem, a pankawallah and one of the more colorful caretakers at the Nizzam Uddin dargah, an ancient and popular Muslim shrine in Delhi. The dargahs (there are a few in Delhi) are my favorite haunts for environmental portraiture.

A pankawallah is someone who works a ‘pankah', a large cloth fan on a frame, and in this specific case, fans the dargah's devotees while they're performing their prayers, or listening to qawwali songs. The dargah pankawallah does not expect tips, but gladly accepts if these are offered. Muhammed is also in charge of lighting wood coal for the burning of incense at the shrine.

Here are more of my photographs of Indian Raga.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PDN Photo Annual 2008

Photograph © Shiho Fukada-All Rights Reserved

PDN has done a gorgeous job with its Photo Annual's website. No one will agree with all of the judges' choices, but most of the awards were certainly well deserved.

I'm gratified that Shiho Fukada was recognized for her work on the brothels of Bangladesh, especially since I've often posted the work of this talented New York City-based photographer on The Travel Photographer blog.

Here's PDN Photo Annual 2008

World Press Photo Interviews

World Press Photo has posted 22 interviews with the 2008 (and 2007) award winning photographers, such as Tim Hetherington, Stanley Greene, Brent Stirton, Balzazs Gardi and Vanessa Winship among others.

A very nicely produced feature with a small flash movie as an inset with each photographer's interview, and a loupe (a la Lightroom and Aperture) to magnify details of the photograph being discussed. Nice touch.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

POV: Hug Your Audience

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Mike Fox has an excellent article on Black Star Rising titled Building Your Brand Online, in which he outlines recommendations for photographers and photojournalists -established and emerging- to brand themselves. It's a must-read for those who need reaffirmation that the Internet is the most useful medium for self-marketing.

As the article asserts, branding oneself is a multi-pronged effort; it includes setting up a Facebook or MySpace account, putting up a Flickr site, author a blog, and use the myriad of other tools that are readily available.

There's no doubt in my mind that authoring The Travel Photographer blog was one of the wisest decision I've made. It takes time and effort, but it's certainly worth it. The Travel Photographer blog was an excellent (and cheap) way to publicize my name, my photography work and photo expeditions to an infinitely larger audience than the one originally reached through my website. The blog effectively allowed me to hug my audience, and each post I write maintains that hug.

I also compound the reach of my blog by crafting my periodic email newsletters that carry news of my photography projects and photo expeditions. Email newsletters are phenomenal tools to directly reach your contacts. My mailing list went from a handful of names at its outset to currently over 500 registered members....and more join every week. This in itself is a key target audience...and the newsletters allow me to hug that audience.

So my advice to established and (especially) emerging photographers is to create and maintain a doesn't have to be updated daily, but it must be well crafted and interesting...and weekly posts are perfectly acceptable. Blogging about one's work and describing how a specific photograph was made is always interesting to your audience. If one relies on the passive approach of just having a website, hoping and waiting for eyeballs...the wait will be long.

However, if one starts a blog, it must be updated on a consistent basis. Posting on an erratic or irregular basis defeats the purpose of maintaining a regular line of communications (aka the hug) with your target audience, who should be anticipating your forthcoming blog post...very similar to the arrival of a magazine in one's mailbox.

Dispatches Magazine

Dispatches magazine which debuted on Monday, is edited by journalist and author Mort Rosenblum and photographer Gary Knight. It's a quarterly compilation of analyses of world events, with each issue grouped around a theme and featuring the work of well known journalists and authors.

From its website:

"Dispatches took root on an olive farm in Provence, flourished on a Kashmiri houseboat, and was toasted into reality with champagne at the East Gate of Angkor Wat. Its founders are a photographer who believes his lens should not filter out humanity, a reporter who feels real news can only be seen from up close in its historical perspective, and a pharmaceutical executive who thinks entrepreneurs should do more than make money.

Mort Rosenblum and Gary Knight shaped a rough concept after covering badly understood conflicts together in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. At a photo workshop, Simba Gill told Knight of his own idea for a magazine. After an hour-long conversation in Paris, the three partners established dispatches with no more than a handshake. They hired Amber Maitland, a multilingual administrative assistant who they dubbed Girl Wonder, and worked out details over long crab lunches in a pounding monsoon near Danang, Vietnam."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hidden In Plain Sight: A Benefit Event

Kloie Picot is inviting attendance to Hidden In Plain Sight: A Benefit Event for Iraqi & Palestinian Children on May 25, 2008 at the BLISS Livehouse (148 Sec 4 HsinyiRoad, Taipei, Taiwan). The event's objective is to establish a Community Learning Center in the Middle East, and providing refugees with work related skills and training workshops.

The following photojournalists have donated photographs to the event: Abed Omar Qusini, David Bathgate, Gabor Treveli, Kloie Picot, Katharina Hesse, Laura El-Tantawy, Liz Coetzee, Lisa Hogben, Ricardo Garcia, Rony Zakaria, Paolo Picones, Susetta Bozzi, Tewfic El-Sawy, And Tobie Openshaw.

Canon Rebates

Canon's 2008 spring rebate program may be late, but they seem substantial enough to offset the recent across-the-board price hikes. The rebate program--instant this time around--will be effective May 18-July 19. Since they're instant, there are no forms or coupons to clip.

Rebates, which are for DSLRs and accessories, range from $300 for an EOS 5D and $200 for an EOS 40D. Maybe, just maybe...this will clear the shelves for a new 5D II????

Monday, May 12, 2008

Camera Bags Part Two

In my previous post on Camera Bags, I neglected to mention that while in the field, I've opted for the Lowepro Street & Field belt system to carry my cameras without straining my back or shoulders. Yes, it's a gunslinger look, but I've used it since I photographed the unforgettable Maha Kumbh Mela in 2001, and it proved to be a winner for me.

I use the Lowepro Toploader 75 AW for either of my two cameras; the one I plan to use the most frequently dangling from my right shoulder, and the back-up in the holster bag. The Toploader is attached to a Lowepro Street & Field Deluxe Padded Waistbelt to which I also attach a pouch for my digital recorder.

If and when my right shoulder complains, I'll get a second Toploader and I'll really look like a gunslinger.

Note: As my readers know, this blog is ad-free so I'm not bound to plug any brand over the other. It just so happens that I've used Lowepro for quite a while, and I'm satisfied with its products' reliability and design. Tamrac is another company that has an equally good product line. It's basically a matter of personal preference.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mali: Festival au Desert

Photograph © Kevin Moloney/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us another world music-related feature with its Mali: Festival Au Desert slideshow. There's no narration in the slideshow (but some good riffs), but further information is available in the accompanying article authored by photographer Kevin Moloney.

The first festival was started in January 2001, and is held every year in Essakane, two hours from Timbuktu in Mali. This year, the festival was held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of January. The festival has its origin in the large traditional Tuareg festivities, such as Takoubelt in Kidal and Temakannit in Timbuktu. These festivities were used as gathering points for the exchange of information among different communities. Originally, there were songs and Tuareg dances, poetry, camel rides, games, etc.

The 2009 Festival au Desert will be held 8-9 and 10 January.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Camera Bags

WIRED has a recent post on what it describes as three of the best camera bags you can buy. One of these is the Billingham 550. As most of us know, finding the 'perfect' camera bag is tantamount to finding the holy grail...and may be even harder.

I have owned the Billingham 550 for a few years now, but used it infrequently. It's a British classic, sturdily built based on a fishing bag design and, similar to the famous Barbour rain jackets, gives off an assurance of indestructibility. The downsides to these attributes are that it's heavy, the leather straps are hard to handle and it's fiddly to open.

I have no doubts that the Billingham would be a delight to use after a decade (or more) of steady rough usage, when the canvas gets softer, the straps more malleable and easier to fit in the brass buckles. Frankly-speaking, when the bag is new, it's a pain. It used to be that English aristocrats gave their new shoes to their butlers to break them in...I wonder if that concept would work with the Billingham bags?

Naturally, with the current weak dollar, these bags (which are manufactured in the West Midlands) are singularly expensive....but they'll last forever. Just be prepared to have to break them in for a long time.

I used a Lowepro Stealth Reporter AW until I noticed I was starting to walk crab-like because of its weight on one shoulder. I then switched to a Lowepro CompuTrekker AW backpack until I noticed I was walking hunched like Quasimodo, so I switched to a roller bag made by Wenger. So far so good. My still new Billingham 550 is in my closet.

NY Times: Gnawa Festival in Essaouira

Photograph © Ed Alcock/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a slideshow of photographs (and narrated by photographer Ed Alcok) featuring the Gnawa Festival of Music in Essaouira, which is scheduled for June. The Gnawa are the descendents of slaves originating from Africa who established brotherhoods throughout Morocco. They are made up of master musicians, metal castanet players, clairvoyants, mediums and their followers.

They are at the same time musicians, initiators and healers, blending African and Arab-Berber customs. Despite being Muslims, the Gnawa base their rituals on African cults of possession...a sort of sufism merged with voodoo rituals.

During the celebration the master musicians and his group call on saints and on supernatural entities to take possession of their followers who eventually go into deep trance.

The accompanying article in the NY Times is written by Steve Dougherty.

I'll be putting Essaouira and the Gnawa music festival on my list of possible destinations for a 2009 photo expedition. I've been to Essaouira when traveling in Morocco...only as a day trip, so the prospect of a photo expedition scheduled for the festival, with all the visuals and ambient music is irresistible.

The NY Times feature seems to me to have been produced half-heartedly, with no background on the Gnawa themselves. Since the festival is an annual event, these photographs and audio must've been available for almost a year and I would've thought that with all that time, the NY Times could've produced a comprehensive multimedia feature. On reflection, I'm too harsh...the NY Times is not the National Geographic and I shouldn't expect much more from what is essentially a travel feature.

Julian Love: Editorial Travel

Photograph © Julian Love -All Rights Reserved

Julian Love is a travel and lifestyle photographer in London, who specializes in photographing boutique hotels, adventure sports and editorial travel assignments. You'll recognize his distinctive style from the various photo galleries on his website

His latest gallery is of Sri Lanka, and it largely consists of Julian's editorial travel photographs of this lovely island. On his blog, Julian shares with his readers his mishaps when setting up his photo shoots of the stilt fishermen north of Galle. I'm glad he was careful to photograph a fisherman wearing a traditional straw hat rather than the ubiquitous baseball caps. I recall having had a difficult time excluding the fishermen who wore these ugly caps from my shots while photographing there.

Julian is the 2008 National Geographic Traveller / Photo District News "World in Focus" Winner, the 2007 Wanderlust Professional Photographer of the Year and the 2006 Travel Photographer of the Year.

Friday, May 9, 2008

No Words

Photograph © Karim Kadim/AP Photo-All Rights Reserved

Two-year-old Ali Hussein is pulled from the rubble of his family's home in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. The child, who later died at the hospital, was in one of four homes destroyed by U.S. missiles.

Elie Wiesel once said " remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..." or is that only applicable to non Iraqis, non Afghanis and non Palestinians? If the death of 2-year old Ali Hussein is not a war crime, what is?

Sean Macleod: China

Photograph © Sean Macleod -All Rights Reserved

Sean Macleod is a Canadian photographer living in Geneva. He's also a self taught painter. His formation as photographer started in India and Nepal where he traveled early on in his career. He eventually returned to the sub-continent, and expanded his travels to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Southwest China and Vietnam.

His photographs are sepia-toned and square, giving them an old-world feel. Don't miss "Pathways" (in my opinion his best work) gallery of portraits of ethnic Chinese minorities, as well as others in Kerala, Laos and Cambodia. This is really lovely ethno-photography work by a talented photographer.

A New York City Story

Photo: Michael Falco for The New York Times

While not really an item relating to travel photography, I thought that Jill Freedman, a street photographer from New York city, meeting one of her subjects some 30 years after she photographed him, is a wonderful story.

In 1979, Jill Freedman pointed her Leica M4 at a young couple in the flower district and almost 30 years later, Mario Pesa of Brooklyn saw himself in the photograph which appeared with an April 27 article in The New York Times' The City section about Ms. Freedman.

Jill Freedman and Mario Pesa were reunited at an Upper East Side gallery, where an exhibition of the photographs is being held. Here's the full article

What The Duck: Contests

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Anthony Kurtz: India

Photograph © Anthony Kurtz:-All Rights Reserved

Anthony Kurtz started to photograph in 2003, and went on from there to garner over a dozen photographic awards, and has exhibited his work in numerous galleries in the Bay Area.

I've discovered his remarkable work from Px3: Prix De La Photographie in which he won 2nd Place for "India: Beautiful Struggle"in the Book Proposal category.

Here's his website, which I encourage you to explore in full. Apart from his work in India, Anthony has lovely (and unusual) photographs of the back streets of Thailand, and of the world of Today and of the Future. It's possible that some may view his photographs are depressing, but his style is certainly distinctive. As he himself says, he finds beauty in the texture and decay of urban landscapes. This is the work of a photographer who will continue to impress us.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Show-Off: Wat Bo Monastery

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I'm introducing a new occasional feature to The Travel Photographer's blog, and it'll show off examples of my personal photography.

Although I like Blogger as a blogging platform, I find that photographs could be better displayed in terms of quality and size. The latter can certainly be increased by adjusting the template's code...but I thought it'd be easier if I kept the template as is, but uploaded my "show-off" photograph in a larger size. It would be just a matter of clicking it on the blog, and it would open in its original size.

The first photograph of Show Off is of Kim Suen, an 81 years old sweeper/gardener, early morning at the Wat Bo monastery in Siem Reap. I used Lightroom's Aged Photo Preset on the original photograph, and adjusted various settings until I got the look I wanted.

Here are more of my photographs of Angkor and Siem Reap.

VII's Humankind: Hasted Hunt Gallery

The Hasted Hunt Gallery announces Humankind a photo exhibition by the members of VII on April 17- June 7, 2008 with a reception for the photographers on May 15 (6-8 pm).

Works by Marcus Bleasdale, Alexandra Boulat, Lauren Greenfield, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Joachim Ladefoged, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti and John Stanmeyer are on display.

Hasted Hunt Gallery is on 529 West 20th Street, 3rd Floor New York, New York 10011.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Burma: Cyclone Nargis

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The latest news is that at least 22,000 Burmese have died and up to a million people have been left homeless by the catastrophic cyclone that battered the country. The death toll from the disaster includes 10,000 people in the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta region alone. It's also reported that Rangoon has been badly hit.

Regrettably, it's expected that the death toll will rise further.

I hope that my photograph of a Burmese nun praying at the Schwedagon Paya in Rangoon is an appropriate choice for this post.

Px3: Prix De La Photographie

The stated mission of the "Prix de la Photographie, Paris" (Px3) is to "promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Winning photographs from this competition are displayed in Paris and published in the high-quality, full-color Px3 Annual Book.

The competition is juried by leading editors, publishers, curators, gallery owners consultants, creative directors, and art directors.

As readers of this blog know, I'm not enthusiastic about photographic competitions since most of them are poorly managed, some have outright dubious agendas and are generally rights-grabbers, but Px3 2008 impressed me with the quality of its results.

Here are some of my favorite results:

Photojournalism: Photographer of the Year: Balasz Gardi. "The Valley"

Photograph © Balasz Gardi-All Rights Reserved

Photojournalism Pro: First Place: Eddie Gerald. "The Cave Dwellers"

Photograph © Eddie Gerald-All Rights Reserved

Travel: First Place: William Huber. "Abu Dhabi"

Photograph © William Huber-All Rights Reserved

Portraiture Pro: First Place: Reimar Juul. "Hijras".

Photograph © Reimar Juul-All Rights Reserved

Book Proposal: 2nd Place: Anthony Kurtz. "India: Beautiful Struggle".

Photograph © Anthony Kurtz-All Rights Reserved

Photo Journalism Non Pro: 3rd Place: Larry Louie. "Tibetan Women".

Photograph © Larry Louie-All Rights Reserved

Portraiture Non Pro: 1st Place: Faisal Almalki . "A Thousand Stories".

Photograph © Faisal Almalki -All Rights Reserved