Monday, May 31, 2010

Tony Smith: Kumbh Mela

Photo © Tony Smith-All Rights Reserved

Tony Smith is an adventurous Welsh photographer who, at the age of 15 joined a cargo ship to South America...and this is how his world travel started. He worked on ocean liners, and subsequently on dry land in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Johannesburg in South Africa and London before settling down in Winchester.

He's been deeply involved in travel photography to the point it's developed into a second career. He tells us in his biography that nothing pleases him more than attending and photographing cultural and religious festivals: the more difficult and remote the better.

Tony is an Associate member of the prestigious Royal Photographic Society. His travels have taken him to Nepal, Bhutan, India, France, China, Spain, Morocco the USA and Canada as well as the West Coast of Ireland. He attended Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Gypsy events.

He has just returned from Haridwar in North India where he attended the Kumbh Mela, and produced a photo slideshow and a blog travelogue.

Tony also produced a number of slideshows of festuivals such as Holi, Gypsy Pilgrimage, Maha Shivratri (particularly recommended) and Feria de Bernabe, as well as others which are on his website.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Talking With Our Hands?

All Photos © Neal Jackson-All Rights Reserved

I just stumbled on this collage of photographs made by Neal Jackson during the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop (FPW) in Manali last June.

It appears that some the FPW instructors are fond of using their hands whilst conducting their classes....virtually the same gestures and mannerisms!

From the top left is Michael Robinson Chavez, top right is Ron Haviv, bottom right (in red) is Ami Vitale, and bottom left is Tewfic El-Sawy (The Travel Photographer). Click on it for a larger version.

The 2010 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop is scheduled for 20 – 26 June in Istanbul.

WTF!? Waiting For The GF1...

On May 24, 2010 I ordered the Panasonic GF1 with a 20mm f/1.7 lens from Amazon for $812 (excluding NY tax), which listed it as being in stock. I chose the Super Saver shipping discount so I was charged nothing for shipping.

Not a bad deal cost-wise since it saves me a little money, except for this: on receiving my order, Amazon emailed me its confirmation that the shipping date was estimated June 1, or a full 8 days after its being ordered.

Why? Does it take 8 days for an Amazon employee to locate the camera? Is it hiding behind stocked books? Is there a game of hide & seek going on? Would paying expedited shipping costs make the employee look any faster? Perhaps run instead of walk?

It's in stock and it's shipped from Amazon itself, so it's not from another Amazon affiliate or whatever they're called these days. And why not alert me to that "estimated shipping date" when I clicked on the Super Saver shipping discount?

Assuming that it will be shipped on June 1, it may be delivered a full two weeks from my order...a whole two weeks! I would understand if the camera wasn't immediately in stock, but it what's going on, Amazon?

Ah, well...I hope I can test it in the streets of Istanbul in less than 3 weeks!

Underage Marriage in India

Photo © Prakash Hatvalne/AP Photo-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Prakash Hatvalne/AP Photo-All Rights Reserved

Two photoblogs, MSNBC's Photoblog and The Denver Post's Plog, featured images from a mass marriage ceremony held recently in the town of Rajgarh, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Both are credited to Prakash Hatvalne/AP Photo.

The top photograph is of Mamta (7 years old) standing with her husband Santosh, who is 11 years old. While the lower photograph is of an under-age newly married couple who refused to be identified.

While Indian law sets 18 as the minimum age for a woman to marry and 21 for a man, underage weddings occur in rural areas, where the law is seldom observed.

Sociologists believe that child marriages originated 900 years ago with Muslim invasions of the subcontinent. Legend has it that invading armies -as was customary at the time- raped and carried unmarried Hindu women off as war booty, prompting communities to marry off their daughters almost from birth to protect them.

This tradition of child marriage, as many others considered by the Western world to be abhorrent, has also been created by necessity. In poverty stricken villages in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Africa, securing early marriages for daughters can mean the difference between subsistence and famine.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Work: Orissa & Chhattisgarth

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Here are two images made while traveling in Chhattisgarh and the neighboring Orissa. There were made using my first digital camera, the Canon 10D...remember that one?

The first is of an Odissi dancer in Bhubaneswar. Odissi is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. On the basis of archaeological evidence, it's the oldest surviving dance form of India.

The second is of an adivasi in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, whom I found amongst the thousands of tribal people who congregated at one of the weekly haats. It's estimated there are 300 haats in Bastar, where villagers come to buy basic necessities, and to socialize.

It's at these haats that the adivasis imbibe copious quantities of toddy, the palm wine ubiquitous in these parts. The fellow was in a pseudo trance along with other members of his group. Despite my efforts, I never found out what the purpose of the trance was.

Here's my gallery The Adivasis of Chhattisragh.

POV: The Guardian Eyewitness iPad App

I saw this posted on various blogs, and thought I'd add my two cents. It's the newly released Guardian Eyewitness app for the Apple iPad, shown off by photographer David Levene. I can't argue with the premise that it's gorgeous...but what does it bring to the table beyond what a laptop and/or netbook already does? The Guardian photographs can be appreciated on a laptop/netbook as well, no?

I have a Mac Book Pro and its display is equally gorgeous. I have a cheap Acer netbook, and its display is certainly not as great, but it's cheaper than the iPad, and it allows me to use all types of software, and fiddle with my photographs using Lightroom...infuriatingly slow perhaps, but it does, and iPad does not.

I frequently visit the Apple store in the Meatpacking district to play with the iPad (by the way, there are fewer tourists on the second floor, where iPads are also available).

As I've said before, I haven't seen anything to convince me that the iPad is a must-have for until it does, and despite the Guardian's app and others like it, I'll wait and see what comes with the device's future iterations and new apps.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wenjie Yang: Nuo Opera

Photo © Wenjie Yang-All Rights Reserved

Wenjie Yang is a freelance photographer, who was born and raised in Shanghai. She comes to photography and photojournalism with a background in advertising production and production of movie crews for a number of years.

She currently attends the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism One-Year Certificate Program at International Center of Photography, and worked on editorial assignments from various magazines, including “Travel + Leisure”, “Marie Claire”, “Elle Decoration”, "Burn Magazine" and “Chinese Photographers”. She also was awarded third prize in the 2008 National Geographic International Photography Contest (China Region).

Wenjie introduces us to Nuo Opera through her photo essay here.

Nuo opera is an ancient and a popular folk opera in southwest China. It is characterized by the use of frightening masks, characteristic dresses, strange language used in its performances, and mysterious scenes. It integrates religious and dramatic culture, and its performance aims drive away evil spirits, disease and unholy influences, as well as supplicate blessings from the gods.

Traditionally, Nuo is performed by specially trained shamans as a means of exorcism. In fact, the professional Nuo performers are viewed as "spiritual tutors" wielding supernatural powers to disperse evil spirits, sickness and disease.

HabbyCam DSLR Shoulder-Mount

This shoulder mount might be useful to those who use DSLRs for movie making. It's called the HabbyCam (don't ask me why) and it's reasonably priced at $250.

It's essentially a brace, is made of aluminum and stainless steel, and weighs only 3 lbs. The shoulder bracket is drilled with holes that can accommodate other accessories such as sound recorders and the like.

I don't have it so can't recommend it, but it certainly looks as if it could work well. I'm guess some enterprising person will eventually cobble one from hardware found cheaply at Home Depot etc.

Found via WIRED's Gadget Lab.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Asim Rafiqui: The Idea of India

"The close relationships between the island’s Muslim and Hindu communities in fact reveal a blurring of religious and spiritual lines, reminding us of the artificiality of the labels of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ and the ordinary human being’s ability to find accommodation and tolerance of the practices and values of his neighbors." - Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Parables Of Bet Dwarka

Asim Rafiqui is not only an excellent photojournalist, photographer, a thoughtful blogger, writer and commentator, but also a friend and an inspiration in many ways.

I've written a number of posts on his wonderful project The Idea of India, and its being supported by The Aftermath Project and Blue Earth Alliance in the past year, so it gives me great pleasure to announce that he was just awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue this extraordinary project.

Asim will be based for a year in New Delhi starting this September, and the scholarship will allow him to continue, expand and delve deeper into this important project.

I encourage you to visit Asim's The Idea of India writings, as well as his accompanying blog The Spinning Head. I'm certain you'll bookmark both, and follow his explorations into India's past, present and perhaps future.

As a footnote, I am undeservedly privileged to be mentioned in Asim's The Idea of India, and hope to reciprocate the acknowledgment in a small way very soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Antonin Kratochvil : Moscow Nights

Here's an audio slideshow of photographs by Antonin Kratochvil titled "Moscow Nights" that takes us to Moscow's decadent underworld, which is the latest feature on VII Magazine. The images themselves are vintage Kratochvil; some of which are tilted to impart uncomfortable tension (and also to be different). Although he's known for his black and white documentary photography, a few here are in color, and all show the dissolute circus-like atmosphere of this other dimension. The accompanying soundtrack is of a popular Russian music played on the accordion.

The blurb that accompanies Moscow Nights suggests that it's hard not to feel "the raw edge and danger" that exists in that underworld.

I may be mistaken, but I haven't felt that at all. All I felt was disdain tinged with pity for the characters who live such an empty existence, and watching the slideshow reminded me of the decadent characters and atmosphere in Cabaret, the 1972 movie with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey.

Moscow Nights is also a book soon to be available, and is described as "a voyeuristic tour through the decadence and hedonism of the new "Golden Youth" as they enjoy their spoils."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Books: The Complete Photographer

My work will appear in The Complete Photographer by Tom Ang, which is being published by Dorling Kindersley Limited. According to Amazon, the book will be released on July 19, 2010.

I"ll be featured as a Master of Travel Photography, with a profile and work resume.

The Complete Photographer encourages photographers to explore every discipline and experiment with different approaches, and is based around tutorials on ten different genres-Portraits, Landscape and Nature, Fashion, Wildlife, Sport, Documentary, Events, Travel, Architecture, and Fine Art.

WTF Department: Ridiculous Bling

Here's a piece of ridiculous bling which ought to be filed in The Travel Photographer's WTF Department's compost heap, along with the Leica Hermes.

Found in this week's The New York Time's T-Magazine is a Yves Saint-Laurent travel adapter, which will cost $450 whoever is silly enough to buy it.

Mind you, the blurb tells us that fashion has come to the rescue of the stylish travelers who have had to use the "less-than-beautiful electrical doohickeys", especially since these come in cute fuchsia, black and violet leather bags.

A suggestion for the "stylish travelers": why don't you buy this doohickey from Kensington for $29 instead, and give the difference to a worthwhile charity? It does exactly the same thing and even looks the same. I realize it'll be tough without a colored leather case, but try all the same.

I have this Kensington adapter which I use everywhere I travel. Along with a locally-bought power strip, it's priceless. And if I need a pouch for it, I'll find one at the nearest Army Surplus ain't gonna be in fuchsia though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Work: Vedic Gurukul

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

During my Theyyams of Malabar Photo~Expedition™ in early 2009, I had arranged for a photo shoot at an ancient Vedic 'gurukul' (or training/boarding school very similar to the Buddhist monasteries for novitiates, or a Muslim madrasa) in Thrissur, where we were treated to a demonstration of this way of teaching the sacred Vedic scriptures.

The Vedas are the earliest literary record of the Indo-Aryan civilization, and the most sacred books of India. These are the original scriptures of Hindu teachings. The oral tradition of the Vedas consists of several rhythmic recitations and ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. The traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence.

While photographing and watching the hypnotic chanting by the young boys, I was reminded of the similar recitation styles used by the Buddhist novices and the Muslim children at madrasas, who sway their torsos in time with the cadence of their chant. Moreover, many Jews also sway their bodies during prayer; a practice called shokeling in Yiddish.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This recipe is by the trusted cookery writer Diana Henry and comes from her book Cook Simple. The last time I saw Diana Henry on television, she was one of the presenters on Market Kitchen, unfortunately she no longer presents on the programme, which is a great shame.

The rocket cream is a winner and a perfect match for the chicken and vegetables. Only a few good quality ingredients are required for this recipe and after a couple of hours you will be indulging in a delicious meal.

Diana has written some wonderful cookery books and this one is a firm favourite of mine. A taster of recipes from the book - Chermoula Lamb with Hot Pepper and Carrot Puree - Mackerel Fillets with Mushrooms, Parsley and Lemon - Salad of Seared Beef and Cashel Blue Cheese - Cassis-baked Fruit - these are "make me recipe" titles, and I just love them.

I have given the full quantities for the recipe, although for just the two of us I halved the amount of ingredients.

Serves: 4-6

You will need: 1 x 1.8kg roasting chicken, 300g cherry tomatoes on the vine, 600g small waxy potatoes, 200g green beans, juice of half of a lemon.

Rocket Cream: 125g mayonnaise, 100g fromage frais, 75g rocket.

To Serve: Extra-virgin olive oil, rocket.

1. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and season. Roast in a preheated oven 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 1½ hours, or until cooked through.
2. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tin, season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 25 minutes.
3. Whiz all the ingredients for the rocket cream in a food processor. Put into a bowl and place in the refrigerator.
4. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain. Cook the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes to retain some crunch, drain.
5. Slice the potatoes. Place the potatoes, beans and the tomatoes into a bowl and toss them with salt, pepper, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the lemon juice.
6. Serve the vegetables with chunks of the chicken, rocket cream, and some extra rocket would be good.

The Travel Photographer's Statistics

For some reason, my earlier post on this got deleted...

So here it is again:

I thought a little trumpet blowing would be appropriate this Sunday here goes.

The Travel Photographer blog is ranked 1st when searching using Google for "The Travel Photographer" (it's sort of obvious, but it's still cool)...

Using Google, it ranks 2nd when searching for "Travel Photographer" which is really phenomenal.

And it ranks 4th when searching for "Travel Photography" which is really really phenomenal.

I also found out that the blog has over 1300 feed subscribers!

SacBee's The Frame: Mr & Mrs Sadhu

Photo Courtesy The Sacramento Bee

Here's an amusing photograph featured by The Frame, the photo blog of the Sacramento Bee. It's of a sadhu and a woman "returning after bathing at the Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad."

It's uncredited on the SacBee blog, except to say it's from AP.

Although I have seen female sadhus (known as sadhvis) in Varanasi, I have rarely seen a sadhu in the company of a woman, and wonder what are these two returning to. To me, this looks like a man and his wife returning home from work. He's dressed in saffron cloths, and is carrying the Shiva trident, an accoutrement of his trade, while she's carrying some stakes.

I have seen and met countless of these so-called sadhus during my travels in India, and most of them are charlatans and con-artists. After all, it's rather an easy life they lead. They are given free food and alms, they ride public transport for free, they smoke marijuana whenever they can, and people generally give them a wide berth.

Naturally, there are also a few sadhus who are genuine ascetics, but these are rarely seen by Western tourists except at important Hindu religious festivals, such as the Kumbh Melas. However even there, the real ones are a minority.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Munem Wasif: Old Dhaka

Photo © Munem Wasif -All Rights Reserved

Here's a response in many more ways than one to Howard W. French's Old Shanghai galleries which I posted about yesterday.

It's by well-known Bangladeshi photographer Munem Wasif, whose trademark gritty high-contrast black & white photographs seem to be the common denominator amongst many of his equally talented compatriot photographers.

Old Dhaka -as we've seen of the old neighborhoods of Shanghai- offers endless scenes of unadulterated humanity to photographers. The Western affinity for privacy doesn't exist here. Mothers bathe their children in the open, while the elderly help one another to perform basic needs and people live virtually in the open without shame or embarrassment.

It's quite evident from this photo essay that Munem Wasif (and others like him) are photographers who have the ability to achieve a no-holds barred intimacy with their subjects. Achieving this closeness undoubtedly enhances the humanness of the subjects we see in their pictures.

Old Dhaka is featured on the incomparable ZoneZero, the site dedicated to photography founded 16 years ago by Pedro Meyer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Howard W. French: Old Shanghai

Photo © Howard W. French -All Rights Reserved

The NY Times featured Howard French's exquisite portfolio of black & white photographs of residents of old Shanghai's densely packed neighborhoods inside their own homes, which is titled Discovering Shanghai's Secret City.

I was so taken by this type of work (and I guarantee you will too) that I looked for Howard French's other work and discovered his main photography website, and his equally wonderful Disappearing Shanghai: The Landscape Within among other galleries.

Howard French lived in Shanghai from 2003-2008 as chief of The Times’s bureau, and spent many weekends exploring the lesser known areas of Shanghai or the "densely packed place of tumbledown, two-story housing and long internal alleyways" as he describes them. He became a familiar sight for many of the residents, and knew what to expect at every corner, whther it'd be a mahjong game or a regular siting in a chair in his pajamas.

He returned to Shanghai last summer and for three months, he knocked on the doors of homes and asked himself in to document what he encountered.

To me, this is what documentary photography is all about. The photographer as a fly on the wall...seemingly unnoticed by his subjects...who perhaps either ignore his presence, got used to it or tolerate it....and from these frames, one can build a storyline. In the photograph above, the woman on the left is laughing at something/someone outside of the frame, and the younger woman looks at her somewhat pensively, while a third person is lying on the bed, possibly asleep. Can we guess the dynamics in this photograph? The wedding photograph hanging from the wall begs the question: is the bride and groom present in the room? Are they the laughing woman and the sleeping figure? Is the young woman their daughter?

Simple yet complex. I love it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

David Lazar: Myanmar (Burma)

Photo © David Lazar -All Rights Reserved

Here's an introduction to David Lazar, a photographer and musician hailing all the way from Brisbane, Australia. With a long roster of awards under his belt, David was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Intrepid Photography Competition, won the Best Wildlife 2008 category and the Best Culture and Portrait 2007 category in the Peregrine Photography of the World Competition. He also won the Best Landscape 2007 category in the Intrepid Adventure Photo Competition, and was published in JPGMag, Intrepid Travel Magazines, Digital Camera, and Digital Photo of the UK.

He recently traveled to Burma, and returned with lovely images of this wonderful country and of its people. These images are grouped under a gallery he titled "Myanmar, Say A Little Prayer". Also explore David's other galleries of the Middle East and India.

David tells us that he was drawn to the designs of the Thanaka paste on the women and children’s faces. This is the traditional Burmese paste made the bark of trees and applied to the skin each day to keep it moisturized and protected from the sun. Thanaka has been used by Burmese women for over 2000 years.

The 602nd Google Follower

I noticed that my list of Google Followers have now grown to over 600 people! This list is distinct from my Twitter and Facebook followers and/or friends, Feed subscribers* or from my subscribers to my newsletters.

To commemorate this milestone, I've chosen to feature the 602nd Google Follower whose name is Christina Saull, a photographer from Washington, DC based photographer who works on media relations for a health non-profit organization. She also authors another blog Life Through The Lens.

I'll be featuring the 700th (or so) Google Follower as keep following The Travel Photographer!

*I've checked...I've got twice the number of feed subscribers of PDN...go figure!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stuart Freedman: The Idol Makers

Photo © Stuart Freedman-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Stuart Freedman-All Rights Reserved

"In Western art, few sculptors -other than perhaps Donatello or Rodin- have achieved the pure essence of sensuality so spectacularly evoked by the Chola sculptors, or achieved such a sense of celebration of the divine beauty of the human body."- William Dalrymple, Nine Lives
Stuart Freedman is an award-winning British writer and photographer whose work was published in, amongst others, Life, Geo, Time, Der Spiegel, Newsweek and Paris Match covering stories from Albania to Afghanistan and from former Yugoslavia to Haiti. His work has been exhibited in Visa Pour L’Image at Perpignan, The Scoop Festival in Anjou, The Leica Gallery in Germany, The Association and the Spitz Galleries in London.

One of his many galleries is The Idol Makers, which documents the work of Radhakrishna Stpathy, an idol maker, a caster of statues, a master craftsman in Tamil Nadu, India. Stpathy mastered the ancient art of bronze casting which traces its origins from the Indus Valley civilization and achieved its apogee during the Chola period.

Chola period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, which is also know by its French name, cire perdue, and is the process by which a bronze or brass is cast from an artist's sculpture.

Be sure to read Stuart's accompanying article on Stpathy, and the historical background to idol making in Tamil Nadu.

I've previously featured Stuart Freedman's work on Kathakali here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One Shot: NYT's Rina Castelnuovo

Photo © Rina Castelnuovo-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times' Lens blog features the work of Rina Castelnuovo in Palestine & Israel. Essentially a "smooch" job by the writer, but there's no denying that she deserves every word of it.

After all, she's the photographer who captured the infamous photograph of the thuggish Israeli settler tossing wine at a Palestinian woman on Shuhada Street in Hebron.

Amongst Ms Castelnuovo's photographs on the Lens blog, I chose the one above as my favorite. The photograph is of a group of Haredi Jews (or Haredim) during a festival in the Mea Shearim district of Jerusalem. The Haredim are Ultra-Orthodox Jews who consider their belief system and rituals to extend in an unbroken chain back to Moses.

I'm intrigued by some of the hats worn by these Haredim. The fur hats worn by some are called spodik while the flat ones are called shtreimel, however I can't figure those worn by the fellows on the left of the photograph which resemble white fezzes complete with black tassels.

The fez of course, is the well-known red hat with tassel of the Ottoman Empire, which was popular in its dominions such as Egypt, the Maghreb and some Greek islands. The fez was banned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as being regressive.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Diego Vergés: West Guinea

Photo © Diego Vergés-All Rights Reserved

Diego Vergés is back at it again, and has completed uploading a couple of new galleries on his website. This time, the photographs (color and B&W) were made during Diego's recent West Guinea adventure in the Baliem Valley.

The Baliem Valley is also known as the Grand Valley, and is located in the highlands of Western New Guinea. It is occupied by the Dani people who are the subject of Diego's cameras and who, because of the impenetrable territory, were only discovered in 1938.

They are one of the most populous tribes in the highlands, and are found spread out through the highlands. The Dani are one of the most well-known ethnic groups in Papua, due to the small numbers of tourists who visit the Baliem Valley area where they predominate.

I ought to mention that Diego self-finances these trips, and has just spent 4 months in Indonesia and the Philippines. He tells me he has taken 17 local flights, and engaged a large number of porters for his lighting gear and other photo equipment in Papua and Siberut....all out of his own pocket. Incredible!

While I've posted three of Diego's Mentawai photographs in my last post, I've restricted this post to only one image so you'll have to drop by his website, and check the rest yourselves.

By the way, I imagine that the scarf dangling from the Dani's neck in the above photograph is an intentional strategic decision to mask the man's penis gourd.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marc Garanger: Femmes Algériennes

Photo © Marc Garanger -All Rights Reserved

Algeria's War of Independence from France officially lasted almost a decade, but its genesis goes back to the early 40s. It was one the bloodiest struggles against a brutal colonial power with over a million Algerians killed, with thousands interned in concentration camps. To this day, the French have not accepted responsibility for these crimes.

Growing up in my native Egypt and full of nationalistic fervor against colonialism, I remember quite well the admiration we had for the Algerian resistance...the names of Ben Bella, Boumedienne, Djamila Bouhired still easily roll off my tongue.

So it was with much interest that I saw recent coverage from photo websites and newsmedia on Marc Garanger, who was stationed against his will in Algeria, and managed to avoid combat by becoming a photographer in the French army. His job was to produce images for new mandatory ID cards, and villagers were forced to sit for him.

Less than a year later, Garanger's photographs of shamed and angry Algerian women would become a symbol of French oppression over its Northern African colony.

I left a comment of the New York Lens Blog which featured Garanger's work:

"the French colonialism/occupation of Algeria was one of the most brutal in history, and the Algerians' independence war cost over a million of their lives. in my view, the expressions of these women are principally of defiance, hatred of their oppressors, and rebellion. the women were combatants as well, as has been mentioned in the article. perhaps there's an inkling of truth in that they were ashamed to show their faces, but what i sense from these expressions is that they're telling the French "you'll soon be gone"...and they were right."

Garanger received today a Lifetime Achievement Award at the New York Photo Festival for Les Femmes Algeriennes.

For further photographs, go to which has a number of large images of these Algerian women; some ashamed, some scared but many defiant.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jehad Nga's Turkana in NYC

Photo © Jehad Nga -All Rights Reserved

The beautiful work of Jehad Nga, one of my favorite photographers, is on show at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery on the Upper East Side in New York. The exhibition runs from May 13 to June 16, 2010, and is timed to coincide with the New York Photo Festival. Limited edition prints are priced from $2,800-$10,000.

The UK's Daily Telegraph also featured Jehad's Turkana work. I scratch my head in puzzlement that a UK daily would feature news of a photographic event (and images), while our own newspapers have not. Perhaps I've missed it...?

For background on Jehad Nga and the Turkana images, check my earlier post here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Travel Photographer's Photo-Expeditions™ 2011

Although I haven't firmed up any decisions yet, I am starting to mull over two (of the possible 3) Photo-Expeditions™ for 2011 that will be non-Arab Islam-centric. The two expeditions' underlying themes will be documenting the existing syncretism between Islam, its Sufi offshoot and another major tradition. The itineraries will include photographing certain rituals at obscure religious sites, as well as at other locations...I can't be more specific at this stage without letting the cat out of the bag.

As followers of my Photo-Expeditions™ news and of this blog know, I've decided to further accentuate the travel-documentary thrust of my photo~expeditions, and reduce the maximum number of participants to only 5 (excluding myself) on each trip.

My recent expeditions have become so popular that they've swelled up to 9-10 participants, and generated long waiting lists. As of 2011, participation will no longer be based on "first registered first in", but will be based on a portfolio viewing and other criteria. Details of the 2011 itineraries will be announced to subscribers to my newsletter mailing list.

In the meantime, I'm readying some pre-departure information for the participants in my Bali: Island of Odalan Photo-Expedition™ due to start August 1. Exciting stuff!!!

Steven Greaves: Kashi, City of the Dead

Photo © Steven Greaves-All Rights Reserved

American writer Mark Twain wrote:
"Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
Varanasi (Benares) or Kashi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India, and is one of the most sacred pilgrimage places for Hindus of all denominations. More than 1,000,000 pilgrims visit the city annually. For centuries, Hindus have come to Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges, to attain instant moksha, or "release", at the moment of death.

Steven Greaves's galleries include Kashi, City of the Dead, and Kashi, City of the Living; both which I highly recommend.

Steven is a freelance photographer, who was born in the UK, but considers New York City as his home. With a formal education as a lawyer, Steven interned with VII Photo Agency, and his work was published by a number of international publications and displayed in New York City, Miami, London and New Orleans. His work is currently represented by Lonely Planet Images.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Interview with.............

Recently I was asked by Debs, of Deb Cooks food blog, if I would be a willing participant in her monthly interviews.

Debs has so far interviewed a cookery writer and a few other food bloggers. If you would like to read the interview please click here.

Thank you Debs, it was fun!

NPR: The Grand Trunk Road

The Grand Trunk Road played an important role in India's history at every step of its way. Some 3500 years ago, with the Aryan invasion of the subcontinent, it served as a corridor starting at the Khyber Pass winding eastward between the Himalayas and the Thar Desert onto the Gangetic plain. Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism spread through it, and Muslim proselytizers traveled on it. Since 1947, Pakistan controls the 300-mile segment between Peshawar and Lahore, while the remaining 1,250 miles link six Indian states, making it lifeline of northern India.

Nowadays, the road used by Alexander the Great, Ibn Battutah, Mughals invaders and other conquerors and the just curious, is ruled by truck drivers roaring through countless tiny villages.

NPR features a hybrid multimedia project in which its journalists travel the route and tell the stories of young people living there, who make up the majority of the populations in India and Pakistan.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FP: Tomas van Houtryve's Maostalgia

Photo © Tomas van Houtryve-All Rights Reserved Flattr this

When one thinks of Foreign Policy magazine, large photographs and photo essays don't really come to mind...but that would be incorrect. The magazine regularly features photo essays from well-known photojournalist and, contrary to many online newsy magazines, does a nice job showcasing them in a large size.

This month, Foreign Policy published Maostalgia, a photo essay by Tomas van Houtryve, who traveled in the heart of China and found Mao's legacy in the most unexpected places.

For instance, he photographed in the town of Nanjie, where its government provides for all its citizens' needs, supplying them with everything from cough medicine to funerals.

A different take from the recent photo essays on glitzy China we've been accustomed to see, and which for the most part extol the virtues of the Chinese economy.

Tomas van Houtryve is a documentary photojournalist who spent much of the past five years photographing the few remaining countries still under Communist Party rule. His 2009 photo essay for FP on North Korea, "The Land of No Smiles," was nominated for a National Magazine Award.

More of his images on China can be seen here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

NPR: Sebastian Junger On 'War'

The arm-chair warriors amongst us will like this post on NPR:

"Five times between June 2007 and June 2008 the writer Sebastian Junger traveled to a remote Army outpost in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. Junger, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, made the trip to embed with a company of soldiers from the Army's 173rd Airborne brigade as they fought to keep the Taliban from controlling a small, treacherous plot of land."

I have yet to read all of the article and listen to the excerpts, but I can easily predict that a book such as this one, and its supporting hoopla, glorifies war.

On my flight back to NYC, I tried to watch "The Hurt Locker"...5 minutes into the movie, I turned it off. Is it eyeball fatigue from all the war coverage since 2001 or is it moral disgust...or is it both?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kieron Nelson: Vanishing Cultures

Photo © Kieron Nelson-All Rights Reserved

The only introduction from Kieron Nelson to his work is an email with his website's address, so I assumed he was suggesting I took a look at it and, if it passed muster, add it to The Travel Photographer blog.

Well, it easily passed muster and I'm delighted it did as it's a veritable trove of lovely photographs of indigenous people and of tribal cultures. He specializes in off-the-beaten-track destinations, and traveled from the jungles of New Guinea to the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

The photograph for this post is of a Changjiao Miao woman wearing the long horns with the traditional decorative hair bun made of linen, wool and small amounts of ancestral hair. Changjiao or "Long Horns", when directly translated, reflects the custom of animal horns being worn as head ornaments by tribe women for special occasions.

Kieron won an impressive number of photographic awards, and because of the spelling of certain words on his website, I guess he's British educated, but that's all I know of him.

I guarantee you'll spend a long time going through his Vanishing Cultures website.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

POV: Imitation...Flattery or Buggery?

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The answer? It depends.

This time, I'm not referring to visual plagiarism but to the imitation of style and copying of unimaginative itineraries in the travel photography tours/workshops industry.

Many travel photographers recently awoke to the fact that tours and workshops can add a little something to their bottom line (actually, big and small name photojournalists are doing it as well), and their offerings are all over the internet. Their target market is made up of working and non-working photographers, who seek to build an inventory of images, either to show friends and neighbors, enter and hopefully win competitions, or to sell as stock and to publications.

All this sounds lovely but regrettably, the disease currently afflicting photojournalism seems to have spread into travel photography as well. It's rather disconcerting to see a lack of imagination in many travel photography tours, a frequent "borrowing" of regular tourist itineraries, and the liberal sprinkling of the sentence "photo-shoot" and "wake up at dawn" and similar verbiage in the marketing blurbs, as if that's enough to give legitimacy to the notion that these trips are really tailored for photo enthusiasts.

As regular readers of this blog know, I've swatted off a number of attempts by established travel photographers to either flagrantly filch my itineraries (inclusive of hotel names) or to get a copy of my mailing list for my photo~expeditions, or to join that mailing list to get advance notice of my itineraries. Oh, yes...corporate espionage is alive and well in the travel photography workshop business, but that's par for the course.

Have I consciously imitated any other travel photographers as far as itineraries are concerned? Sure, I may have been inspired by some, but I always avoided cookie-cutter itineraries (excepting Bhutan, where these are based on annual festivals), and I consistently base my itineraries on what and where I want to photograph...not on what and where others want to photograph. And the formula works...with my expeditions often with long waiting lists.

Speaking of inspiration: 24 months ago, I introduced multimedia storytelling tutoring using Soundslides on my photo-expeditions, so I'm chuffed to see others have just started to offer it as well. Soundslides...not SlideShowPro, Final Cut Express or other software choices.

Dwindling viable opportunities, reduced prices for images, tougher competition and increased costs are the reasons many travel photographers cut corners, and look for guidance, inspiration and successful examples to emulate; and as a result, some cross the invisible line and become unimaginative imitators.

So back to my question. Is imitation flattery or buggery? It depends on how the one being imitated actually views it, and what is being copied. Some will consider it a rip-off...others -as I do- consider it the sincerest form of flattery.

You see, it's not buggery unless one is willing to be buggered...but let's also remember, taking without giving back is bad karma.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Albert Kahn: It's A Wonderful World....

Not all bankers work for "great vampire squids wrapped around the face of humanity". Well, some may enjoy doing just that, reaping millions in the process...but others may be like Albert Kahn.

Certainly a product of a different age but Albert Kahn was a wealthy French banker and philanthropist, who started an visionary project to create a color photographic record of the peoples of the world.

Described as an idealist and an internationalist (aren't these two words synonymous?), Kahn used a new photographic process called autochrome, to promote cross-cultural peace and understanding.

Camera-shy himself, Albert Kahn used his fortune to finance the travel of intrepid photographers to more than 50 countries around the world, at a time when age-old cultures were on the brink of being changed for ever by war and the march of 20th-century globalization. His objective was to record the differing customs of the human race for posterity, and his Paris museum houses 72,000 autochromes of these travels.

Although Kahn was one of the richest men in Europe in 1929, Wall Street's crash that very year ruined him, and in 1931 he was forced to bring his project to an end.

A BBC book The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn was published, bringing Kahn's autochromes to a mass audience for the first time. A wonderful world indeed.

Perhaps Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs will pick up Albert Kahn's baton?

(The vertical autochrome is of a Vietnamese couple in Tonkin in the northernmost part of Vietnam, while the horizontal is of a hunter in Mongolia).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chris Blade: Omo Valley Tribes

Photo © Chris Blade-All Rights Reserved

Yes, I know. I'm being repetitively Omo Valley-centric this week...but I recently discovered a handful of photographers who produced lovely work from this area, and decided to string Omo Valley galleries one after the other. Once again, tea leaves readers (ie followers of my photo~expeditions) should not see anything in this.

Today, I feature the work of Chris Blade from Omo Valley, although his website also has galleries of the beautiful Ethiopian Simien Mountains, Lalibela and Gondar, and Axum.

Christopher Blade is a graduate from the Royal College of Art in London, and has advanced degrees in glass making and design. He manages the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. He designs and makes bespoke art glass often inspired from his extensive travels as a travel photographer. His travels have taken him to Ethiopia, Israel, Africa (he was invited by a British adventure travel company to photograph from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & through Botswana & the Okavango Delta, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho to Cape Town), China, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and others. I'm glad he included a gallery titled it ought to be.

I liked his horizontal images on the Ethiopian galleries I've visited (some very nice ones of Lalibela, including interiors).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

RESOLVE Blog: 3 FPW Instructors Talk

liveBooks recently got an update about the impressive lineup of instructors for this year’s Foundry Photojournalism Workshop happening from June 20-26 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Some of them spoke to Miki Johnson of livebooks' RESOLVE blog.

Ron Haviv's favorite aspect of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop is "Watching the growth of the students in such a short period of time".

Ami Vitale's is "Watching students grow in the short span of the workshop is incredible".

And mine is "the mutual camaraderie and unfettered sharing of knowledge, information, and support between instructors and students/attendees".

Read the rest on RESOLVE.

Marco Paoluzzo: Omo Valley

Photo © Marco Paoluzzo-All Rights Reserved

Yes, it does seem that I'm on an Omo Valley streak...and why not? Here's another photographer who showcases his work in Ethiopia. His work doesn't stop at the Omo Valley, but explores many of the country's corners.

Marco Paoluzzo is a Swiss photographer who worked as a freelance photographer for advertising and industry, and then took up travel photography in 1996. His work appeared in the National Geographic Traveler, Geo, Altaïr, Traveller UK, Stern, Paris Match, Nikon News, Leica Fotografie International, and Die Zeit amongst others. He has also published a number of travel photography books.

I was tempted to feature Marco's work of Ethiopian Christianity instead, but I'm sure you'll explore his website on your own. He's been virtually everywhere, so give yourself time to explore his galleries.

As I frequently recommend, photographers ought to update their websites and showcase their work using large images! And to those of you who may be tempted to read tea leaves, the many Omo Valley postings on The Travel Photographer Blog do not suggest that I am planning a photo~expedition there in 2011. I'm just sayin'.

By the way, it just occurred to me that many of the Omo Valley galleries I've seen so far are of simple portraits, rather than environmental portraits (or tableaux, as I like to call them) with other subjects in the background, etc. The one above is one of the few in Marco's gallery. It's not criticism at all, but just a reflection of what is practical in such an environment. My own Omo Valley gallery is made of simple portraits as well.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lightroom 3's Ice Climbing Ad

It's only because I like Lightroom a lot and use it virtually all the time that I agreed to post this advert on The Travel Photographer's Blog. As my readers know, I don't place any ads on this blog, but I occasionally write on products that I like and use...and Lightroom makes that cut.

Tyler Stableford is an adventure photographer, and was given the challenge of shooting an ice climbing expedition and perfecting his images with the help of Lightroom 3 beta 2.

Sarah Elliott: Women of Omo Valley

Photo © Sarah Elliott-All Rights Reserved

Sarah Elliott
interned for James Nachtwey and assisted Stanley Greene, and traveled extensively around the world pursuing social issues. Her work was opublished by The New York Times, The LA Times, IHT, The Guardian, Monocle, The Observer, Financial Times and the Red Cross and many more.

Sarah's galleries include images and essays from Rwanda, Kenya, Somali Pirates, New Orleans, Rajasthan, The Mormons, Tibet, Tonle Sap Lake and portraits of the Women of the Omo Valley. These are 26 frontal portraits of the tribal women, ranging from the Mursi to Karo. These are simple black & white portraits, quite different from the work of other photographers like Brent Stirton, who used strobes for his environmental portraits of the Omo tribes.

The Omo Valley has considerable resonance amongst those who've either been to the south of Ethiopia and those who want to go. It is currently believed that the area has been a crossroads for thousands of years as various cultures and ethnic groups migrated around the region, and it's been said that “If Africa was the mother of all humanity, then the Omo River was its main artery”. Having been there in 2004, I believe that.

The area is home to eight different tribes whose population is about 200,000 and it's been reported that a hydro-electric dam is under construction on the Omo river. When completed, it will destroy a fragile environment and the livelihoods of these tribes, which are closely linked to the river and its annual flood.

(Via Photojournalism Links)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

POV:iPad & Photography Redux

The New York Times reports that Apple announced it had sold one million units of its iPads as of Friday last week, and that demand outstrips supply. Apple also said there were now 5,000 iPad-specific apps available for the device.

Macworld also published a first look review at Apple's $29 iPad Camera Connection Kit, which confirms that the device can upload and store RAW images (nef and cr2) but there isn't a way to edit these images as yet. The iPad generates JPEG versions of these files, and it's these that iPad users can email, create sideshows with, and edit with 3rd party applications.

I am not convinced this device is an accessory can serve photographers in its current iteration. Some photographers (mostly studio) perhaps will use it as a viewer during photo shoots, and wedding photographers are thinking of buying them instead of wedding albums to send to their clients...while others will use it instead of portfolio books to showcase their work to important clients.

Other than that, the bottom line is let's wait and see....there's no just meat on these bones for me.

Jonathan Maher: Venice

Photo © Jonathan Maher-All Rights Reserved

It's not often that I feature European travel photography, so I thought I'd break the mold today by featuring the work of Jonathan Maher on Venice and its Carnival.

I've not been to Venice during Carnival yet, but know a number of photographers who've been and returned with splendid work. I visited Venice a few years ago, ill prepared for its acqua alta season, and still recall walking in soggy shoes.

Jonathan Maher is an English travel photographer currently based in Italy. His work is principally based around travel and documentary projects and themes. His biography describes his style as being "reductive" or narrowing the frame down to the critical and essential components.

Aside his work in Venice, Jonathan has travel galleries of Namibia, India, France, Italy and Asia.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I can't resist a good British Pudding and this is one of those puddings that has stood the test of time.

As a child I ate this at home, learnt to cook it at school, served it to my family and to this day it is still a firm favourite.

I have adapted this recipe from Good Food Magazine 101 Tempting Desserts.

Serves: 6

You will need: six buttered 200ml ramekin dishes.

For the topping: 100g butter, 100g light muscovado sugar, 2 tbsp dark rum, 432g can drained pineapple rings, 6 glace cherries

For the cake: 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut, 100g butter at room temperature, 175g golden caster sugar, 3 large eggs, 175g Self-raising flour, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 125ml milk.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4/Fan 160°C.
2. To make the topping, put the sugar, butter and rum into a pan and heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally. Pour a little of the mixture into the bottom of each ramekin, then put a pineapple slice with a cherry inside on top.
3. To make the cake: put the coconut in a pan over a gentle heat, stirring often, until it begins to turn light golden brown, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
4. Mix the remaining cake ingredients together until they are well combined. Stir in the cooled coconut. Spoon the mixture over the pineapple slices.
5. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. If they aren't cooked cover with foil and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes or so.
6. Turn the puddings out, reheat any leftover topping and pour over the puddings. Serve with either custard or cream.

Giulio di Sturco: Dreaming Fashion

I've been meaning to feature Giulio di Sturco's photography for a while now, and recently revisited his website, to which he added a number of galleries.

One of those consists of his work during Indian Fashion Week in New Delhi, and is titled Dreaming Fashion.

You may wonder what I chose to feature this gallery on what is essentially a travel photography blog.

My rationale is multi-faceted: this gallery of edgy fashion and striking models underscores the enormous strides made by India in becoming an Asian economic powerhouse with a new growing middle class and modernizing cities, but also emphasizes the growing wealth disparity between its haves and have-nots.

Another reason is Giulio's photographic style. His blurry photographs impart both a dreamy look and one that suggests motion and energy.

The third reason is the pretty models...always a magnet.

Giulio's work also includes more sobering work. His galleries of photographs of the Ganges' pollution, the misery of Bihar residents after a flood and violence in Kashmir provide a reality check, and a reminder that not all is rosy in India.

Giulio di Sturco is an award-winning Italian photographer working between Milan and New Delhi. He studied photography at the European Institute of Design and Visual Arts in Rome, and was published in D (La Repubblica delle Donne), Internazionale, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Anna, Amica, Geo, L'Espresso and others.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One Shot: Kate Holt

Photograph © Kate Holt-All Rights Reserved

I'm severely pressed for time, so this post will unfortunately be short in prose but hopefully not in substance.

I just thought to showcase this magnificent photograph by Kate Holt of an Afghan woman holding a malnourished infant at a therapeutic feeding center in Kandahar.

Kate is a news and features photographer, covering events throughout Africa and Afghanistan.

PS. Being tall, I'm quite fond of environmental photographs of that type, which tell a story from "above". Many photojournalists/photographers seem to prefer frontal views for obvious reasons, but in this case where faces are covered, Kate's choice of vantage point is just perfect.