Friday, 1 August 2014

Between The Three Volcanoes | Tewfic El-Sawy

BETWEEN THE THREE VOLCANOES
(click on image)

During the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in La Antigua last week, I managed to squeeze in a few hours of street photography.

Using my Leica M9 and a Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 (and occasionally a Fuji X Pro-1 with a Fujinon 28mm f2.8), I walked the quaint cobblestones streets of La Antigua, not straying too far from its epicenter, Parque Central.

I titled this gallery as Between The Three Volcanoes, since La Antigua is cradled by three volcanoes; Acatenango, Volcán de Agua and the Volcán de Fuego.

Many of the photographs in this monochromatic gallery were made surreptitiously, using the shooting from hip technique I work with in the streets of New York City...aka shooting blindly (sort of). I don't see it as a furtive method, but simply as a way to capture the candid expressions of people in the public eye and in the streets.

Furtive or not, I seldom photograph (or show) pictures of the homeless or the handicapped wherever I go. In La Antigua, I photographed a person in a wheelchair being pushed by a woman who had the most interesting of expressions...but despite that, I decided against including it in this gallery.

I decided early on that I'd photograph in monochrome, and resist being seduced by the colors of Guatemala...whether the colors of the indigenous people's dress, or La Antigua's walls of red, mustard-yellow and orange. The Leica M9 has a setting with which my photographs were monochrome in jpg and color in dng...so I had the best of both worlds.

Some 10 years ago, I photographed in La Antigua (and some parts of Guatemala) during its spectacular Semana Santa, and comparing my photographs now and then, I am amazed by the difference and by the gradual evolution in my style. My photography used to be more for stock at that time, and now it's pure documentary-travel photojournalism.

I've chosen to feature this gallery on Medium, which allows photographs to be viewed is 1400 pixels on the long side.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Philip Montgomery | The Masjid

Photo © Philip Montgomery - All Rights Reserved






















I had planned to feature an Islamic-themed photo essay a few days ago on the occasion of Eid el-Fitr, but I was in Guatemala for the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, so couldn't find the time to do so.

The Masjid, or the mosque, is the place of worship for Muslims. These places of worship range from the simplest to the most elaborate architectural structures (the most beautiful, in my view, are those in Istanbul and were either built or influenced by the great Ottoman architect Koca Mi'mâr Sinân Âğâ, who was either an Armenian, or a Greek).

The smaller places of worship are technically not mosques, but are called 'mussaleya" or some derivative thereof.

"...a person kneeling towards Mecca is not a stranger, but a brother or sister in faith."
The Masjid is the work of Philip Montgomery, and is a photo essay on the places of worships for the
the immigrant Muslim communities within New York City. Philip writes that for these new immigrants, the Masjid acts as an incubator, a neutral space, providing refuge from the outside world.

He found an incredible diversity of cultures and practices; whether in Harlem, Jamaica, Brooklyn or Queens...practices divergent from one origin to the other, whether West African Muslims, Egyptians, Palestinians, Indonesians...all bringing their rituals and characteristics to New York City's melting pot, and keeping their individual traditions intact but united under Islam, despite the slight nuances of each.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay-Area, Philip Montgomery is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the Photojournalism and Documentary Program at the International Center of Photography and is a recipient of the 2009-2010 ICP Directors Scholarship.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

La Antigua | The 'Multimedia For Photographers' Class of 2014

Photos © Cheryl Nemazie-All Rights Reserved
Well, the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop 2014 ended last Saturday, after a week long of grueling work from instructors, assistants and class participants (aka students).

I'm not getting into the daily details of what the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop was all about in La Antigua, but I will certainly say is that this class exerted their very utmost to produce individual projects that included still imagery, text and ambient audio over the course of what is in reality only 4 full working days.

The above collection of "mug shots" was the brainchild of Cheryl Nemazie. She thought our group photograph should consist of individual mug shots, wearing my eyeglasses, a Cambodian krama scarf and holding a Leica M9...creating a Tewfic "tribe" or "team".

Despite the well publicized travel warnings about La Antigua, none of my class participants experienced any difficulties or issues (at least that I'm aware of) during the Foundry week-long event. The classes were held at one of the town's most prestigious hotel, with conference rooms allocated to each class, and the venue generally worked very well.

The Multimedia for Photographers Class 2014 Hard at Work

The class projects included an intimate look at Guatemala's chocolate-making process, Pollo Loco (the 'chicken' buses of Guatemala), two stories on traditional Mayan-Indian weavers, the art of making typical Guatemalan bread, a teacher of reading/literacy for Mayan Indian women, and a light hearted canine love story. Except for one, all the stories were in color.

Monday, 21 July 2014

La Antigua | First Class Day | Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The first day of class for the Multimedia For Photographers course was completed, and the class participants (pictured above) are already on their way to gather photographs and audio for their multimedia projects.

There are a number of project ideas popping on individuals' radar screens, and we'll have to wait to see if these materialize or not. The advice given is to always have a couple of optional projects just in case the one chosen doesn't pan out.

Parque Central in the center of La Antigua is rife with interesting characters, and hopefully participants will be able to craft visual and aural stories as quickly as possible, as one week is really too short to create an in depth story with a multimedia component.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The eco-system that exists and gathers around the Parque Central, whilst touristy, is fascinating. The woman trying to sell some dubious looking liquor must have had luck selling it in the open in such a fashion. There was nothing furtive about her, and she brandished the bottle, offering it to me with no compunction.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

La Antigua | La Fotografia De La Calle

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Although this morning was totally consumed by exchanging US dollars to Quetzals, getting a Claro SIM card (getting two for the price of one...un regalo, as I was told), and changing hotels, I did manage to wander about La Antigua, especially around the Parque Central.

I concluded that this little town is made for street photography. I have yet to unpack my gear...relying on my iPhone to grab some casual shots of whatever interests me...especially those with human interest in them.

Under the cloisters of San Jose Cathedral, I watched a photographer setting up a shoot for a Quinceañera celebrating her fifteenth birthday in a satin dress, while the assistant with the reflector is fiddling with his phone.

Street photography here is probably going to be like shooting fish in a barrel...I hope. I regret not having unpacked my cameras, but first things had to come first.

Oh, and by the way...I had a fantastic avocado gazpacho (courtesy of the house), and great penne with salmon at a nearby restaurant. Losing weight won't be an option here in La Antigua.

Can I find the restaurant again? Probably not.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

La Antigua | Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Well, tomorrow I'll be flying off to Guatemala to join the rest of the faculty of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop. I'll be spending most of the week-long workshop teaching the fundamentals of multimedia and storytelling, but I'll try to fit some street photography.

Having been to La Antigua a few years ago, I remember its streets offered strong contrast between shadows and sunlit corners, and hopefully I'll be able to do some interesting work with that.

I have a small class...which is what I always ask for and much prefer, since there's a substantial amount of one-on-one coaching in the audio editing module of the class. Having a larger class would be unmanageable, and would diminish its benefits.

I'll try to post while I'm in La Antigua, and keep my readers appraised about what I'm up to there....whether it's about the Foundry itself, my street photography, excellent coffee hang-outs or restaurants.

Keep tuned.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bijoyeta Das | The Last Aryans (Al Jazeera)

Photo © Bijoyeta Das-Courtesy Al Jazeera
"Now we charge $5 from tourists to pose for photos and more to wear traditional clothes and a lot more if you want to shoot videos"- Thinely Aryan, a Brogpa.
The Brogpas (also known as Drogpas) live in Ladakh, as well as in India-administered Kashmir. They claim to be the last of the Aryans. Out of the 5 Brogpa villages in India, two have are open to foreign tourism.  The villages of Dha and Biama are entirely populated by last remaining remnants of the Dards who are considered as last race of Aryans confined to Indus Valley. The Dards practice an ancient pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon-Cho, and have remained in total isolation for over 2000 years until 1947. 

Al Jazeera In Pictures features a gallery of photographs of Brogpas by Bijoyeta Das.

While no one knows for certain if the Brogpas' claim of belonging to an Aryan race have any merit, and whether their origins are true, the tourism industry is endeavoring to capitalize on these claims, and bring tourists to the area. These villages are about 170 km from Leh, so it is a hardy tourist that goes there...but it seems that it's picking up.

According to entries in Wikipedia: In the 19th century, the speakers of the Indo-Persian or Indo-European languages came to be called the "Aryan race", to differentiate them from what came to be called the "Semitic race". By the late 19th century, the notions of an "Aryan race" became closely linked to Nordicism, which meant Northern European racial superiority over all other peoples. 

Bijoyeta Das is a journalist and photographer. She has reported from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and USA and holds a masters degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, USA and a photojournalism postgraduate diploma from Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Chris McGrath | The Vanishing Dokar

Photo © Chris McGrath-All Rights Reserved

What's a "dokar" you ask?

Well, it's a two-wheeled horse-drawn cart found throughout Indonesia, usually decorated with colorful motifs and bells. Its small horses or ponies often have long tassels attached to their bridle. Typical dokars have bench seating on either side, which can comfortably fit three or four persons...and luggage (and huge bags of rice).

Regretfully, the dokars are on their way to extinction due to other more efficient and modern ways of transport. More than 200 dokars were working in Indonesia's Denpasar region, but only a handful remain these days. Denpasar -as in other large cities- experiences an uncontrolled population causing chronic traffic jams that make it difficult for the dokar to work effectively. Cheaper motorcycles have also made the dokar obsolete.

Chris McGrath has documented these last remaining vehicles in his The Vanishing Dokar in lovely monochrome tones, along with copious information about the photographs as captions.

Chris McGrath is an Australian photographer with Getty Images, specializing in editorial and commercial assignments. He has photographed, four Olympic games, the Paralympics, Commonwealth games, the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the MLB World Series, the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, US Open Golf, numerous US Open and Australian Open Grand Slams, the 2004 Asian Tsunami, the election of Barack Obama and the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and the London 2012 Olympics.

He has worked for clients such as Nike, NFL, Coca-Cola, the LPGA, NASCAR and the New York Times, and his images appeared in Stern, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated, The Independent, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, ESPN the magazine, The Guardian, L'Equipe and on daily news and sport websites worldwide.

He currently works in Tokyo, Japan.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Going Minimalist | Guatemala Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

In just over a week, I'll be traveling to La Antigua in Guatemala to join the rest of the faculty of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop.

Since I'll be spending most of the week-long workshop teaching the fundamentals of multimedia, I won't have much time to work on any personal projects, so will probably only do some street photography.

It'll be an opportunity (and a joy) to leave behind the heavy DSLRs, and travel with a minimalist gear which, as shown in the above photograph, may consist of a Fuji X Pro-1 with a Fujinon 18mm and a Zeiss Touit 12mm, a Leica M9 with an Elmarit 28mm and a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 as well. And just in case I need to record some audio, I'll pack a Marantz PMD 620, much smaller than my Tascam DR-40 that I use on my photo expeditions.

In the last Foundry Photojournalism I attended (Chiang Mai), I relied on these two "rangefinders", and it was a relief to be carrying one or even two of these comparative light tools instead of my two Canon DSLRs.

It's not my first time to Guatemala or La Antigua. I was there some years ago during its famous Semana Santa. Some of my photographs are on Las Tierras de Popol Vuh.

For those who don't know, The Foundry's goal is to help emerging photojournalists and documentary photographers to hone their skills, to have a chance to work with some of the world’s best shooters in the field, on real reportage projects, to create multimedia, to see some of the best work being done today, to collaborate, to make contact, plan future projects, develop your own vision and leave the workshop energized, and more committed then ever to concerned photography, storytelling and to documenting the world through the lens.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Truyen Than: The Art of Conveying The Soul

TRUYEN THAN
(click on image)

With my photo expedition-workshop to Vietnam looming, I revisited some of imagery made during my earlier visit to Hanoi in 2012, and decided to rejig some of the photographs which had appeared on a gallery I had titled The Portraitist Of Pho Hang Ngang onto Medium, a blogging platform.

The portraitist is Nguyen Bao Nguyen, and he works as a “Truyền Thần” artist. The art aims at conveying the soul of a person from a photograph to a drawing-painting.

Speaking of Medium, I'm a fan of these new platforms; noting that some are free while others are not, since they provide an easy way to feature one's work, whether prose, photographs or both...and these promise to widen the reach of such "publications".

Apart from Vietnam being on my mind, the other prompt for uploading Truyen Than is the recent photo essay appearing in The New York Times titled To Be A Russian, which follows the same design characteristics as Medium...large photographs filling the whole viewing real estate on one's monitor (if one chose the photographs to do that), sparse prose (but to the point) interspersing these images.

I recall some years ago various POV posts encouraging fellow photographers to go big...that the era of small dinky photographs on websites didn't cut it any more. One of these POV posts is dated April 2009, some 5 years ago...and since then, we've seen a proliferation of large photographs on websites.

But back to Nguyen Bao Nguyen...I read somewhere that he had passed away, but I believe that the information is wrong since it pre-dates the dates (September 2012) when I met with him in Hanoi. I hope I find him well and healthy when I'm back in Hanoi in a couple of months.

I'd like him to see this photo essay.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Marylise Vigneau | Havana I & II

Photo © Marylise Vigneau-All Rights Reserved
"I do not pretend, I don’t explain. Those who look at my photographs can invent their own story. I pass by, ask questions, wonder at things. And the little click of the shutter is no more than a reverence. And that is all that really matters." --Marylise Vigneau
Havana! Amongst the best cities in the world for street photography, and where my fondness for this style was born more almost 14 years ago. Life in Havana happens outside of its dilapidated buildings, and I don't have to tell my readers that its people are incredibly photogenic;  the mix of African, Carib Indian, and European has created a melting pot of handsome people, endowed with wonderful hospitality, remarkable musical talent and exuberance.

So it was with great pleasure that I saw that Marylise Vigneau uploaded photographs of Havana on her website. In fact, there are two galleries; Havana I (color photographs) and Havana II (monochrome photographs which competed for my attention...and I decided to show both in this post.

Photo © Marylise Vigneau-All Rights Reserved
I honestly don't know which I prefer from these two; the young man showing off his biceps to the photographer while around the corner, another man and his dog are unaware of this unfolding story...or the monochrome photograph of three young girls making dance moves in a street.

Marylise Vigneau is a French photographer and has traveled quite extensively, as her galleries attest. These include work from Cambodia to Uzbekistan, from Mongolia to Myanmar, from China to Sarajevo including powerful and compelling images made at a mental hospital in Lahore.

In an interview she tells us "I walk and wait to be surprised, intrigued, moved or amused." Perhaps she does that...but her work transcends this simple philosophy.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Andrea Orioli | Thaipusam

Photo © Andrea Orioli-All Rights Reserved

The Thaipusam ritualistic event occurs 13 kilometres outside the Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur in a sacred Hindu shrine called the Batu Caves.

The festival of Thaipusam was brought to Malaysia in the 1800s, when Indian immigrants started to work on the Malaysian rubber estates and the government offices. The festival is celebrated mostly by the Tamil community, and commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a spear to vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam.

On the day of the festival, devotees shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of heavy burdens, while others may carry out acts of self mortification by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers and sharp hooks.  The devotees perform “Kavadi”, an act of faith where they suffer the pain of dozens of hooks and spears piercing their body during the 272 steps that bring them to the cave temple.

Andrea Orioli photographed Thaipusam, and provides us with yet another view of these not-for-the-faint-of-heart rituals. He is  a biologist working in Switzerland, and has had the good fortune of traveling widely and making photographs. Far more interested in people and cultures than anything else, he's passionate about documenting endangered cultures before they disappear.

He also has featured interesting galleries on his website, including one in Sumba (Indonesia) and another in Kyrgyzstan.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Viviana Peretti | Happy Pride

Photo © Viviana Peretti-All Rights Reserved

I was out of town so this was the second time in a row that I've missed photographing the annual New York City's Gay Pride parade. The neighborhood I live in witnesses the end of the parade, and the cornucopia of characters who participate in it, as well as those who come to watch it, provide incredible images to those photographers who prefer to shun the parade itself, and congregate in the West Village for more close and personal street photography...as I did in 2012.

That said, I'm glad to have seen Viviana Peretti's Happy Pride iPhone photographs of the event, which are much more personal than those I've seen so far of the event.

For those who don't know, June was chosen as LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world. The Stonewall is a gay bar at 43 Christopher Street in New York City, and is traditionally where the parade comes to its end.

Viviana Peretti is an Italian freelance photographer based in New York where in 2010 she graduated in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography (ICP).

In 2000, after graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rome, she moved to Colombia where she specialized in photojournalism and spent nine years working as a freelance photographer.

Viviana has received fellowships and awards from the International Center of Photography, the Joannie M. Chen Fund in New York, CNN, the Fondation Bruni-Sarkozy in France, FotoVisura, the University of Salamanca, the Spanish Embassy in Colombia, the Photo Museum in Bogota, and the Colombian Ministry of Culture. In 2010 she has been selected for the Eddie Adams Workshop, Barnstorm XXIII. In 2013-2014 Viviana has been an Artist-in-Residence at L’École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP) in Arles, France.

Her work has been published in a number of international media outlets including The New York Times, Newsweek, BBC, CNN, L'Oeil de la Photographie, New York Magazine, Le Journal de la Photographie, and L'Espresso.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Masks of Dwo | Aitor Lara


The masks of Dwo from José Bautista on Vimeo.

To start off the week, here's a really unusual dance ritual performed by the Bwa people of Burkino Faso.

According to Wikipedia, the Bwa people are an ethnic group indigenous to central Burkina Faso and Mali. Their population is approximately 300,000 and they are known for their use of elaborate masks, made from leaves or wood, used in rituals.

While 5% of the Bwa are Muslim, and 10% are Christian, the remaining 85% are animists. The latter worship a creator god called Wuro, whose son was Dwo, the god of new life and rebirth. The Bwa use leaf masks more than wooden ones, and these leaf masks frequently represent Dwo in religious ceremonies. The masks also represent the bush spirits including serpents, monkeys, buffalo and hawks. These performances generally take place in the dry season between February and May.

Aitor Lara is a Spanish photographer/videographer who worked in different countries bringing to light the anthropological dimensions of social minorities such as indigenous peoples, and sex workers. He showed his work in international photography fairs such as ARCO and ParisPhoto. He received a number of research grants, including one that allowed him to carry out a project in Uzbekistan. He published a number of books, including Maestranza, a photographic report about the bullring of Seville. He has published in magazines such as NewsWeek, Financial Times, Ojo de Pez orVokrug Sveta. In 2012, he published the book Ronda Goyesca edited by La Fábrica. He was a nominee of the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant in 2012.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

First Results: Zeiss Touit 12mm | Fuiji X-Pro 1

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Here are two examples of what I intend to do with my newly acquired Zeiss Touit 12mm for my Fuji X Pro-1.

The top image is un-cropped, and was made by shooting from-the-hip at a distance of about 2 feet from the couple who were having a rather intense conversation. They were so engrossed in their conversation that they barely noticed me.

The lower image is cropped, and also made by shooting from-the-hip at a similar distance. The tattoo artist was also too busy talking to a colleague to really notice me.

The only irritant in the Touit 12mm is that the aperture ring moves too easily and, especially that I'm shooting from the hip, I have to frequently make certain that the aperture is set on my chosen f-stop. I may consider using a small piece of gaffer tape fixing it at either f4 or f5.6 (which is probably the lens' sweet spots), but Zeiss engineers/designers ought to have come with a firmer aperture ring.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am fond of wide angle photography, and have used the 17-40mm (mostly at the 17-24mm setting) on my Canon 5D Mark II most of the time during my recent photo expeditions in India and Vietnam. While perhaps not optimally ideal for street photography, the Touit 12mm (18mm equivalent on a full frame) gives me a viable alternative to the Fujinon 18mm (27mm equivalent on a full frame) pancake lens I used in the past.

My investment in new gear is a slow and steady one....I'm waiting for the right time and mindset to acquire for the Fuji X-T1. It'll come soon...the real question is whether it'll be part of my Vietnam Photo Expedition in September or not. And whether I move away from the DSLR system completely in favor of the X Series or not.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Zeiss Touit 12mm | Fuiji X-Pro 1

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Well, I succumbed.

I've been think about another prime lens for my Fuji X-Pro1 for quite some time, and having the XF 18mm f2.0 "pancake", I just couldn't make up my mind between the XF 35mm f1.4, the XF 23mm f1.4
or the XF 27mm f2.8.

I tossed around the pros and cons of various Fujifilm X Mount Lenses, and finally decided on the Zeiss 12mm f2.8 Touit.  It’s a solid, all glass lens that feels well made, and while it's manufactured in Japan (as if that is a downside), it feels 'German Zeiss'. It's essentially an 18mm f2.8 equivalent on the Fuji X-Pro1 1.5x crop sensor. And it's hand-built.

The decision was made based on my heavy reliance on my Canon 17-40mm f 4.0 lens during the past 2-3 years. I went back to my images from the Oracles of Kerala Photo Expedition, the Vietnam: North of the 16th Parallel Photo-Expedition/Workshop, The Sufi Saints of Rajasthan & Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop, The Sacred Cities: Varanasi & Vrindavan Photo Expedition-Workshop and remembered my lens usage statistics, which confirmed my preference of using my wide angle zoom and get really close to the subjects I'm photographing.

To underscore the point; most of my photographs on The Birth of Color photo essay were made with the Canon 17-40mm, at its wider setting....as the following photograph demonstrates.


Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Canon 17-40mm f4.0
While the Zeiss Touit's 12mm wide angle is perfectly suited for landscape and architectural photography, I'm certain it'll suit my style of photography whether for environmental portraiture, or street photography.

It'd be superfluous for me to to review this lens in any depth as there are many more qualified photographers who have already done so. For an eminently readable and succinct review of the lens, take a look at The Phoblographer

As for street photography, I've snapped a couple of 'from-the-hip' photographs yesterday, and although it's a little too early, I was pleased with the results. One of these photographs (below) was made in front of the Papaya King on Sixth Avenue, and there are a few more on The Leica File.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Fuji X Pro-1/Zeiss Touit 12mm.
The Zeiss Tuit has smooth rubber for the focusing and aperture ring, and while this doesn't bother me, I did find the aperture ring moves easily, and I had to make certain that the aperture was set on my chosen f-stop. The lack of a depth of field and distance scales are also disconcerting, but I managed to get by. It'll take some practice to get used to it, as most of my street photography is by shooting from the hip.

As I said, it's a little too early, but my gut feel is that this lens -while having marvelous optics- is better suited for environmental and documentary photography. I'll keep using it on my wanderings in New York City for some time, and see if I will change my mind.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Café Dao, A Vietnamese Love Story | Medium

CAFÉ DAO

“No one in our village was as beautiful as she was…we liked each other since we were 12 years old…”
And so explained 92 year-old Thai Truang Dao explained why he married his wife, Thai Mo Ba.

Both welcomed graciously me and Maika Elan in his small home in Hoi An, and allowed me to photograph wherever and whatever I wanted.

Thai Truang Dao started a small coffee-shop in his home town during the mid forties and with some leap of imagination, could be considered as the Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) of Hoi An.

Readers of my blog have seen that I'm trying out the various new storytelling platforms, and Medium is one those. It's a blog publishing platform, founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone a couple of years ago. It has evolved into a hybrid of non-professional contributions and professional, paid contributions, an example of social journalism.

I'm glad to be returning to Hoi An, where I hope I'll be able to revisit the couple, and give them prints of these photographs.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Travel Photographer's Street Photo Contest




The Travel Photographer's Street Photography Contest is open to any professional, student, or amateur photographer at least eighteen (18) years of age. The contest is restricted to residents of the contiguous United States.*

The contest's main theme is daily life in any city, town or village (anywhere in the world), captured through street photography: real, instant images, that grab moments, people, faces, streets, buildings and other elements capable of telling stories.

The sole prize is the handcrafted WotanCraft Ryker Urban Classic 001 which I reviewed earlier here. It's an ideal camera bag for street photography, it's low-profile and is made of very high quality leather.

The requirements and rules are simple: 

1. Entrants can submit up to three (3) photographs, color or monochrome.

2. Each photograph must be a jpg 1000x667 pixels at 72 dpi.

3. Each photograph must include your name and a sequential number if submitting more than one (ie JohnDoe_001.jpg, etc.)

5. Each photograph must indicate where it was made (New York City, San Francisco, London, Delhi, Tokyo, etc).

4. Entrants warrant that their submissions are all their original work.

5. The contest is closed for submissions on August 31, 2014.

6. Entrants are to send their submissions to: tes(at)telsawy.com. The email must also include entrants' full name.

7. There are no fees, or any costs to the entrants. This contest is essentially a competitive giveaway, and has received the blessing of WotanCraft Atelier. 

Judging:

I shall be judging the submissions, and will announce the three top best photographs. These three photographs will be posted on this blog, and public voting will be opened to choose the prize winner. This will occur during the week following August 31, 2014 deadline. 

* Regrettably, shipping to destinations other than in the contiguous United States is not only costly, but also involves an amount of paperwork, as well as potential hefty custom duties to be paid by the eventual recipient, especially with such an expensive camera bag. That is the reason for restricting the contest as I did. My apologies to the multitude of very talented non US-based photographers who may have been interested in entering the contest. 

WotanCraft Atelier's website has full information and details on the WotanCraft Ryker Urban Classic 001.

Photo Courtesy WotanCraft Atelier

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Oracles of Kerala | Medium

The Oracles of Kerala


I've played around with Medium, which describes itself as "a place where people share ideas and stories, designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world, and is used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks". It also claims that it's simple, beautiful, collaborative, and helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.

I suspect that the photo story I chose isn't going to make anyone's day any better, nor will it change the world....but I can attest that it's an easy and beautiful platform to use. I have the feeling it's more adapted to text...articles, essays and such, although the uploading of edge-to-edge images is simple, and quick. Medium recently introduced an app for the iPad.

As to whether it helps me to find the right audience will be tested over the course of the comings days and weeks.

Take a look at my first effort; The Oracles of Kerala.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Les Stone | Pelerinaj Voudou

Photo Les Stone-All Rights Reserved
I'm of the view that when properly used, Facebook is an extremely useful tool for photographers and others...and my introduction to Les Stone is proof of that.

And yes, this is my second post on the religious tradition of Haitian voudou in a row. I'm interested in syncretic religious traditions, and voudou is certainly that. The practices of contemporary vodou are descended from, and closely related to, West African Vodun, and incorporates elements and symbolism from other African peoples including the Yorùbá and Bakongo; as well as Taíno religious beliefs, and European spirituality including Roman Catholic Christianity, European mysticism, Freemasonry, and other influences. So uber syncretism if you like.

But back to Les Stone. He directed me to his phenomenal work titled Pelerinaj Voudou (pelerinaj is the Haitian word derived from the French pèlerinage, or pilgrimage. It's a multimedia photo-book of his many photographs of Haitian practitioners of voudou accompanied by a chilling pulsating sound track, presumably recorded on site. Turn on your computer's loudspeakers, find a comfortable chair, and brace yourself for an incredible audio-visual experience. You won't regret it.

This wonderful work further reinforced my objective of photographing voudou during 2015. As I said in my previous post, it'll most certainly happen.

Les Stone is a New York City born photographer who worked in corporate and fashion photography. He has been photographing in Haiti since 1987, and traveled over 150 times to Haiti to cover Voudou ceremonies. He also photographed the assault on the Vice President-elect of Panama Guillermo Ford by members of the Batallón Dignidad, a paramilitary group employed by Generalissimo Manuel Noriega. He was one of only two American photographers to capture the attack on camera. Asked by Sygma to work with them for the next 11 years. He subsequently traveled extensively throughout the world, covering conflict in the Middle East, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Kurdistan.

Les' photographs have appeared in the National Geographic, the cover of Time, Life, Paris Match, Stern, Fortune, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Smithsonian Magazine,Newsweek, Mother Jones, Panorama, GEO, TV Guide, and US News and World Report. He chronicled conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Kosovo, Liberia, Cambodia and Haiti.

Yes, that kind of a heavyweight.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Troi Anderson | Songs of the Spirits

Photo © Troi Anderson-All Rights Reserved
I'm fascinated by the rituals of voodoo ( or voudou), and lament the fact that I haven't been able (yet) to document this interesting religious tradition either in Haiti or the Dominican Republic. Readers that know my style of blogging will have noticed the added (yet) in the previous sentence, which means that something is being thought of or is under discussion.

According to Wikipedia, Haitian Vodou, also written as Voodoo, is a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Practitioners are called "vodouists" or "servants of the spirits".
Voodoo was created by African slaves brought to Haiti in the 16th century who, when forced by their enslavers to adopt the Christian religion, still followed their traditional beliefs by merging them with the beliefs and practices associated with Roman Catholic Christianity. It was declared the official religion of Haiti in 2003.

Troi Anderson's Songs of the Spirits is a gallery of compelling color photographs of the Haitian religious tradition including some that were made in Saut d'Eau; waterfalls in Haiti that hold special significance to both Catholics and Voudou practitioners, as it is believed that the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel appeared on a palm tree there in the nineteenth century.

Troi Anderson is a fine art, documentary and commercial photographer based in Portland, Oregon. His career started in film working for Magnolia Pictures, and later as a merchant marine sailing throughout Asia and the South Pacific. He is the author of two books, Shadows of Time and Decay (Mark Batty Publishers) along with numerous photographic essays. His work has been published in Geo France, The Oregonian, Communication Arts, Eyemazing, as well as being profiled and featured twice in Black and White Magazine. His commercial clients include Apple, Nike, HP, and T-Mobile. He worked for the humanitarian organization CARE in Haiti.

Monday, 9 June 2014

WotanCraft Ryker (Urban Classic 001) Review

Image Courtesy Wotancraft Atelier
I seldom review products that I don't use or haven't used myself...but one of the very few (possibly the only one) I did review in that fashion almost two years ago was the Urban Classic 005 Safari camera bag manufactured and sold by Wotancraft Atelier.

This time, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of high-quality camera bags (amongst other leather luxury products) sent me two bags to test and review: the Urban Classic 001 Ryker (pictured above), and the City Explorer 006 Scout (which I reviewed in India).

On my way for a bit of street photography in New York City with the
Urban Classic 001 Ryker camera bag and a Leica M9
The two camera bags were delivered by Fedex to my front door, and the first thing I noticed when unpacking the large box was that each were in their own individual cotton bag. Clearly, there's an ethos of quality in making sure that the bags were well wrapped during their shipment. The second thing I noticed while untying the strings, was the whiff of real leather!

It's the same sensory sensation one gets when sliding into the seats of a luxury car...the smell of quality leather and its tactility. Soft and pliable...everything with this camera bag screams "well-made and detail attentive. I tried hard, but failed to find a single errant strand of stitching, a knot or anything that seemed out of place. It's extremely well-made, and quality control at Wotancraft must be handled by an eagle-eyed individual(s), with no tolerance for any defect, no matter how insignificant.


Crammed the Ryker with my street photography equipment: a Leica M9, a Fuji X Pro-1,
a Voigtlander 40mm lens and a Tascam DR40 audio recorder

It's size is deceiving...it initially appeared small to me, but I managed to cram a Leica M9 with an Elmarit 28mm, a Fuji X Pro-1 with a Fujinon 18mm, a Voigtlander 40mm lens and the Tascam DR40 audio recorder with no difficulty. Schlepping it with all this gear on my street photography walk in New York City last Saturday, I kept the M9 dangling from my neck as I usually do, and had easy access to the rest of the rest of my gear. I could have carried my iPad Mini in the bag's integrated pocket if I wished to, but I never take it on my street photography routes.

This particular model of the Ryker is made of black and brown leather, which makes it virtually invisible when wearing dark colored clothes as I mostly do, so it doesn't stand out at all. Its purple microfiber inner lining is soft, and safeguards the finish of the stowed equipment, which is a very smart idea. Both of my cameras show some wear and tear...so the softness of the inner compartment is probably superfluous in my case, but will surely be appreciated by photographers with new cameras and lenses.

The bag is stylish, and feels very comfortable. It easily holds my Leica or my Fuji X Pro-1, and 2-3 lenses as well as my iPad mini. . It feels secure across the shoulder, and its inner compartment is well padded. It's made of soft leather which every time I used it, smelled like the interior of a brand new Jaguar or Bentley.

Image Courtesy Wotancraft Atelier
There are no Velcro fasteners on this bag...not one. Instead there are invisible magnetic snaps in its main flap, which is a nice touch since these make opening the bag totally silent. The inner compartment has removable pads to divide it into sections for the cameras and lenses....and these pads are affixed to the walls of the inner compartment with Velcro.

The curved removable shoulder strap is comfortable, with a non-slip shoulder pad. Since the Ryker was laden with my heavy gear, it stubbornly remained on my shoulder with no slippage. I don't know if that would be the case if it had been lighter. The strap's buckles are heavy duty, and feel well made and solid.

So who is the Ryker for? First off, it's not at all for DSLR-totting photographers because of its size limitations, but it's ideal for those who work with rangefinders, whether Leicas or similar rangefinders (or rangefinder-like cameras such as the Fuji X Pro-1, X-100, X-100S et al.) As I mentioned earlier, its low profile is perfect for the street photographer with a need for a camera bag whilst walking around.

On the way to the subway with the Ryker in tow.
I imagine that the Ryker's design, aesthetic and its price point of US$379, make it an interesting accessory to Leica (of Fuji X Series) aficionados. It's a camera bag well suited for photography in urban centers such as New York City, Paris, London, Hong Kong etc., but it was not designed for, nor would it be suitable for, photographic expeditions, treks and adventures in non urban centers or in unsavory neighborhoods...and that's why its name is Urban Classic.

I must also mention that Wotancraft Atelier generously made a City Explorer 006 Scout available as a contest prize during my The Sacred Cities Photo Expedition-Workshop in India in March. It was won by Charlotte Rush Bailey, and you can read all about it in this post.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Roy Del Vecchio | Viet Nam

Photo © Roy Del Vecchio-All Rights Reserved
It's still a couple of months away, but Vietnam is on my mind this morning...

And how else to bring it to the fore than featuring Roy Del Vecchio's Vietnam gallery?

Roy is photographer, editor and goldsmith from Amsterdam. He prefers to travel to various countries in Asia, and has extensive galleries of India, Burma, Morocco, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Hong Kong. He also maintains a blog, with some lovely Hipstamatic shots of Delhi's Lodi Gardens and Humayun's Tomb (scroll to the bottom).

His photographs have appreared in Lonely Planet Magazine, UN-Water, FAO, Columbus Travel Magazine, ASEAN Tripper, CNN, D-Zone, Travel Sri Lanka, DMO Amsterdam, IRD, Grazia, BNO Vormberichten, Digifoto Pro, Das Erbe Unserer Welt Magazine.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Wanderings In NYC | Storehouse



I chose a number of my iPhone photographs and uploaded them unto Storehouse, and added a few choice quotes by well known personalities about New York City...just to add some spice to the mix.

I've been extolling the virtues of photographing the streets of New York City with an iPhone for some time. It's truly liberating to be using an iPhone to make photographs...the simplicity, the portability and the ease of making photographs on the go with such a small device are just wonderfully conducive to the kind of street photography I am interested in.

At this point of time, as far as the iPhone is concerned, I'm addicted to the Hipstamatic app, and use its Watts lens and the monochrome BlacKeys B+W film. I might do a tiny amount of post processing on the resultant images, but the combination is quite adequate for my taste.

Storehouse is a wonderful iPad app that lets photographers and videographers  to build stories on the fly from text, video and images. It has a great visual editing interface, and is quite easy to use with an iPad.
Storehouse was co-founded by ex-Apple iPhoto veteran Mark Kawano, who also worked at Adobe and Frog design studio and The Daily alum Timothy Donnelly. The app has hundreds of thousands of users, and tens of thousands of stories. An important facet of Storehouse is that its stories can be embedded on other websites, blogs etc.

The company has raised some serious funding recently, which will allow it to be free ‘for now’ to spur growth.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Lalla Essaydi | Les Femmes Du Maroc

Image © Lalla Essaydi-All Rights Reserved
"There is some evidence that the Orientalist perspective has had an impact on the actual lives of Arab men and women, and especially that the rules for Arab women became much stricter as a result of Western influence." Lalla Essaydi
It's rare that I feature work that is more art and mixed-media than pure documentary photography, but the interesting fusion of women portraiture, Arabic calligraphy, and henna in Lalla Essaydi's images encouraged me to show her work on my blog.

Moroccan born, Ms. Essaydi sets up her models inspired by 19th century Orientalist paintings, and adds layers of hand-written Arabic calligraphy with henna to the walls and fabrics that her models wear, as well as to their exposed skin. Her decision to merge the calligraphy (traditionally a male-dominated art form) and henna (a feminine occupation, particularly to celebrate weddings and other joyous occasions) is to try to dissolve the restrictions and fluidity of Islamic traditions.

Lalla A. Essaydi currently lives in the United States, where she received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/TUFTS University. Her work has been exhibited in many major international locales, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas, Buffalo, Colorado, New York, Syria, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Sharjah, U.A.E., and Japan and is represented in a number of collections, including the Williams College Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Fries Museum, the Netherlands, and The Kodak Museum of Art. 

According to her biography,  her paintings often appropriate Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider the Orientalist mythology. She has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Lou Bopp | The Blues Musicians

Photo © Lou Bopp-All Rights Reserved
One of my earliest music loves was the Delta Blues (aka Mississippi Blues), and consequently a major must-do on my bucket list is photographing authentic non-famous blues musicians in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and spend time with them to document their music making.

It's more than a major must-do...it's an itch that keeps recurring every now and then....especially when I chance on the work of talented photographer such as Lou Bopp who traveled in the Mississippi Delta to do just that.

Originating in the Mississippi Delta, the Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. The area is famous both for its fertile soil and its poverty, and as consequence gave birth to a soulful and passionate vocals.  Guitar, harmonica and cigar box guitar are the dominant instruments used, with slide guitar (usually on the steel guitar) being a hallmark of the style.

The Blues Musicians is one of the many galleries on Lou Bopp's website that features his work on the blues. He had long been a fan of the music, so he knew he had to go to Clarksdale and surrounding areas in order to photograph some of its remaining legends. He drove on Route 61— the “Blues Highway”—and ventured down dirt roads and stopped into juke joints that featured these legendary musicians.

Much more on this project can be found on Behold, Slate magazine's photo blog. He also participated in the production of Moonshine & Mojo Hands, a web series about the Delta Blues. It'll give you a little taste of what this type of blues is all about.



Thursday, 29 May 2014

POV: Size (And Content) Matters



It's been quite a while since I've posted about photojournalism-related matters. I'm not a photojournalist but I haven't come across really seminal photographic work for at least a year; work that could have encouraged me to shake off the blahs.

But the recent feature Life In The Valley of Death published by The New York Times did just that. It's about the aftermath of the Bosnian war, and the ongoing efforts to find the mass graves containing thousands who disappeared during that conflict, and how the remains of those killed in the genocide keep turning up, unsettling the reconciliation between Muslims and Serbs.

The photographs are by Paolo Pellegrin, and the well written article is by Scott Anderson.

While both the photographs and the story are certainly powerful, I was initially drawn to the feature by its 'packaging'. The large sized photographs, the article's layout and the haunting title all pulled me in, and pushed me into delving more deeply into the feature.

On reflection, I would've added audio clips of the main protagonists such as Amor Masovic, Fazila Efendic, and Robert Zomer. These would've added an aural texture to the feature, making it more tactile and palpable, bringing home the nuances of their voices, accents and expressions. Alternatively, short video clips of interviews with these people would've worked very well.

I believe that this format is one of the future directions for photojournalism, travel, documentary, human interest stories, weddings....any and all photo narratives. It's one of the formats that photographers would be foolish not to use...either via some of the already existing platforms (see below), or via their own blogs and websites structured to look like these photo narratives.

I have used a number of platforms that provide a similar format such as my own travel-documentary essays in Exposure, Storehouse, Maptia and to some extent Cowbird. I have enjoyed creating these photo narratives, it's easy, effective and well worth your time.



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Jean Christian Cottu | Nagaland's Konyak

Photo © Jean-Christian Cottu-All Rights Reserved
The Konyak are a Naga people, living in India's Northeast and in Myanmar. The Konyak tribes had a strong warrior tradition, and were still headhunting until the end of 1960. Recognizable by their intricate facial and body tattoo, the Nagas believed that only with the skulls of their enemies could they could guarantee the fertility of their fields.

While Christian missionaries (and British colonialists) convinced or forced the Nagas to give up the practice, it's said that they still observe these ancient rituals, using wooden heads instead. Most of the Konyaks in Cottu's portraits are in the 80's or over, and in a few years, most if not all of these former headhunters and their wives will be dead. With their death, the living memories of their unique cultural existence will disappear forever.

In his interview with the UK's Daily Mail, Jean-Christian Cottu tells us that he traveled to the Mon district of Nagaland with a portable photo studio and a medium format digital camera to make these portraits. Refreshingly, he also discloses that his photographs were the result of a material exchange between him and his subjects; either in the form of a printed copy of their photographs or a monetary one, in the form of a few hundred rupees, and on some occasions both.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Leila Alaoui | Les Marocains

Photo © Leila Alaoui-All Rights Reserved

I recall featuring the portraits of Moroccans by Leila Alaoui in a 2011 post, and was very glad to see them again featured in Slate's Behold (its photo blog) with the title of Capturing The Stunning Faces of Morocco.

Morocco is, in my estimation, one of the most difficult countries in which to photograph people. Ms. Allaoui agrees with that, saying that Moroccans are especially apprehensive about being photographed due to their belief in witchcraft, the evil eye and as an Islamic country, espouse a belief that image-making is a direct contravention of Islamic tradition.

However, she persevered and went on about 20 road trips across the country in the last few years, traveling through the Atlas Mountains, the Rif Mountains, the Sahara, and a variety of coastal and inland regions of Morocco including Essaouira, Tangier, and Marrakech. She would set up a portable studio in public places, markets, and other private gatherings after spending a few days getting to know the locals. Eventually, some people would agree to pose and be photographed by her.

Leila Alaoui is a French-Moroccan multimedia artist working on cultural diversity, identity and migration using video installations, studio and documentary photography. After studying film and photography in New York, she moved back to Morocco in 2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally since 2009 and has been published in newspapers and magazines, including in The New York Times. She now lives and works between Marrakech and Beirut.


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

POV: Street Photography | Should It Be Furtive?

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved


“Of course it’s all luck.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson


This POV is prompted by a number of recent posts expressing soul-searching angst from various quarters, as well as various photographers expressing some discomfort in utilizing 'guerrilla' (their term...not mine) tactics to get candid photographs of the street.

It seems that a hands-on review of the Fuji X-T1 by the photographer Zack Arias in Marrakech included some of his tips and tricks in capturing unguarded moments of street life, and a number of photographers questioned the ethics of furtive street photography.

I don't have this issue. To me, street photography is furtive in its very essence...and there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place. By definition, street photography is making photographs on the sly.

When I'm pounding the New York City pavements with a M9 or a X Pro-1, I shoot from the hip about 90% of the time. This technique -if you can call it that- ensures that the people I photograph are totally unaware that I am making a photograph of them...and frequently, unaware that I'm even there.

Street photography is -to my mind- synonymous with candid photography. The latter "...is achieved by avoiding prior preparation of the subject and by either surprising the subject or by not distracting the subject during the process of taking photos". (Source: Candid Photography:Wikipedia).

We all know the father of candid photography was the iconic Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose book Images à la Sauvette was published in 1952, was the master of candid photography. Setting aside that his photographs were mostly of unguarded moments, the very title of his book is French for 'furtively'...and not The Decisive Moment as his publisher translated it.

I recall Costa Manos exhorting us in a Havana workshop that successful street photographs ought to have no one looking at the photographer or noticing the camera. It may not have been accurate, since there are many examples of terrific street photography images in which the subjects look directly -and even pose- for the photographer.

When I photograph in religious spaces such as Sufi dargahs or Hindu temples in India...or wherever I am mingling with people going about their daily life, I much prefer photographing furtively and shooting from the hip. This is to capture candid expressions, unposed body language and unplanned layers.

It's impossible for me to avoid attention wherever I travel. A foreigner with a camera is always a focus of attention, and I have to use all sorts of stratagems and 'techniques' to grab frames as I can...ranging from the "I'm a lost tourist in NYC...and I'm looking for street names/landmarks/addresses" while shooting my iPhone...to the gazing in another direction or pretending to be talking on my iPhone whilst shooting my rangefinder from the hip...yes, there are myriads of ways to play the dumb tourist, sightseer or a disinterested photographer.



The iPhone image of the two musicians going for a hug was made by (1) anticipating what they were about to do, and (2) holding the device in my hand as if I was looking at a map. The other image of the Indian men having a snack near the shrine of Nizzam Uddin was made by shooting my X Pro-1 from the hip whilst pretending to be talking on the iPhone. Had I planted myself in front of them with a camera to my eye, they would've stopped eating and awkwardly froze to pose for the picture.

Remember, I'm not photographing to capture people in awkward or embarrassing moments...that's not my interest. My interest is capturing scenes where people are at their most unguarded, at their most normal and candid moments. If one of my frames accidentally depicts someone picking his/her nose...or a man scratching his crotch, the frame gets deleted.

To those who take that as being furtive, sneaky or sly...I say to each his own.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Wanderings In NYC | Monochromatic Hipstamatic

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
I think it was photographer Chase Jarvis who said "the best camera is the one you have with you...", and he was exactly right.

I happen to love street photography and walking...and living in a city such as New York City gives me so much opportunities to indulge in these two occupations that they've become become a virtual addiction. I rarely take a cab or the subway...and provided the weather is reasonable (and sometimes, even if it's unreasonable), I prefer to walk wherever I need to be (or not to be) no matter the distance.

I'm lucky to live in a neighborhood of lower Manhattan that is still relatively multilayered, and that provides innumerable and diverse opportunities for street photography; where I can photograph moneyed tourists shopping on Bleecker Street and moments later, capturing regular New Yorkers carrying on with their daily grind near West 4th Street....or go further to Chinatown and the Bowery.

I frequently carry my Fuji X Pro-1 or Leica M9 with me...these are the days when I decide I will "do" street photography for a few hours...and that's all I do for that time. There are other days when I don't carry any cameras with me, save my iPhone...but, provided I have the time and inclination, I still hunt for street photography opportunities with the same intensity as I do when I have the "real" cameras.

It's liberating to be using an iPhone to make photographs. The simplicity, the portability and the ease of making photographs on the go with the device are just wonderfully conducive to the kind of street photography I am interested in. At this point of time, as far as the iPhone is concerned, I'm addicted to the Hipstamatic app, and use its Watts lens and the monochrome BlacKeys B+W film. I might do a tiny amount of post processing on the resultant images, but the combination is quite adequate for my taste.

Since I need a place to offload these iPhone images, I created a new blog gallery, titled Monochromatic Hipstamatic with a growing number of street photographs made during my wanderings in New York City.

I also continue to "feed" my older blog gallery The Leica File (New York City with a Leica M9, and a Fuji X Pro-1) with my ongoing street photographs of the city that never sleeps...or relaxes.



Saturday, 17 May 2014

Photito Travel | Travel Photography

Photo © Photito Travel-All Rights Reserved
I'm not sure where I stumbled on Photito Travel's website...probably on Zite.

It's a veritable cornucopia of travel photography from a wide range of destinations...close to about 20 or so, including Sri Lanka, Egypt, Morocco, India, Norway, Israel and Ethiopia...to name but a few.

I chose to feature Photito Travel's Vietnam in this post, principally because of this lovely woman's portrait, and because I shall soon be leading another photo expedition to North Vietnam.

But don't restrict your viewing just of the Vietnam gallery...but knock yourselves out this weekend with an virtual endless galleries of wonderful large sized (for the most part) images of these 20+ destinations. It'll prepare you for whatever your international travel plans are...and whet your appetite for more.

The people behind Photito Travel are Spencer and Vibeke, a husband and wife team of travel photographers. They've been doing this type of travel photography-reportage for over 11 years. They author an interesting blog named Photito Travel Blog, which was included in 2010 by Lonely Planet in its Blogsherpa Program; a collection of travel blogs dedicated to wanderlust.

I shall peruse the various galleries this week end, and I recommend you do the same. You won't regret it...especially if it's raining!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bob Newman | Holi 2014



Bob Newman was a member of my The Sacred Cities Photo Expedition-Workshop last March which saw us photographing in the ancient city of Varanasi, and in the sacred city of Vrindavan during the festival of Holi. He is a first time participant in my expeditions-workshops.

Bob just published his first multimedia project of the photo expedition-workshop, and titled it Holi 2014The multimedia package features photographs made during the week-plus long festival of Holi in Vrindavan. The sound tracks accompanying the slideshow were also recorded on site by Bob.

The project was completed whilst we were in Vrindavan; a task that was especially difficult in view of the intensity of the photo shoots. Bob earned the award of being the trip's most diligent participant, in having completed in record time two multimedia assignments required from the participants. 


He joined our photo-expedition after attending another workshop in Venice, and then went on to Gujarat for a few days.

Bob is a surgeon with 34 years of experience and practices in urology and surgery.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Selvaprakash L. | Vanishing Tribes

Photo © Selva Prakash-All Rights Reserved
On every single trip to India, I am amazed at the Indians' ingenuity in creating and crafting employment and occupational opportunities for themselves...whether it's the punkawallahs waving their flag at Sufi shrines for a few paisas to the young boys who peer in the waters of Haridwar in search of coins donated by the visiting pilgrims.

Most of these "jobs"are slowly disappearing, largely because of India's rapid modernization and socio-economic progress, its modern generation prefers not to follow ancestral trade practices, and the desire to escape caste restrictions. Many ancient practices are fading or have already faded out, while others are currently on their way to become a quaint relic of the past.

What prevents the punkawallah at the Nizzam Uddin shrine being replaced by electric fans? Tradition perhaps...but that too might well change.

Vanishing Tribes by photographer Selva Prakash is a collection of 8 color environmental portraits depicting such transitory trades, ranging from the milkman who delivers milk to homes to the roving knife grinder.

As for the man holding a sort of doll at the end of a pole in the above photograph...I really have no idea what he sells. He seems to have been photographed against the backdrop of a Ferris wheel...so perhaps he's involved in a carnival.

Note: Through the photographers Selvaprakash and Subrata Bose, I learned that this man is a 'Jow Mittai" or candy seller. The red, white, green and yellow strips seen on the pole are gelatinous candy strips popular among rural and semi urban children of India.

I recall the occasional cry of "robabekyah" in the streets of the Cairo suburb of my youth. Most probably extinct now, it announced the man who bought one's old clothes and miscellaneous junk such as empty glass bottles, cans, old shoes, etc. Probably the cry was derived from the Spanish (or Ladino) ropa vieja. Ladino of course, was originally spoken in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire, as Egypt was.

But I digressed.

Selvaprakash L. started his career in photography as a staff photographer for a leading Tamil newspaper. He was Chief Photographer with Dinakaran and DNA, and is now Chief photographer with TIMEOUT, Bangalore. He participated in a number of international photo workshops such as ingapore International Photo Festival 2008 (SIPF), Angkor Photo festival( Projection) 2010 and Photovisa International Photo festival, Russia 2010, Noorderlicht International Photo festival 2011, Delhi Photo Festival 2011 and Lagos Photo Festival 2011 and won numerous international awards.
His photographs have been published in Asian Geo, New Internationalist, and several leading newspapers and magazines in India.