Thursday, 16 October 2014

Christian Bobst | Meskel in Lalibela

Photo © Christian Bobst-All Rights Reserved

Meskel is an annual religious holiday in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church commemorating the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Helena (Saint Helena) in the fourth century. It  is celebrated for two days beginning September 26th, and commemorates the legend that in the year 326, Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the cross upon which Christ was crucified.

It is in Lalibela, one of Ethiopia's most religious towns, that Christian Bobst photographed the ceremonies and rituals observing this fascinating religious festival. During the ceremony, a priest rubs the pilgrims with the holy Lalibela Cross to heal diseases or drive out devils of the bodies of the believers. The Lalibela Cross is thought to date to the 12th century and is considered one of Ethiopia's most precious religious and historical heirlooms.

Christian tells me he used two Fuji X-T1 camera bodies and prime lenses between 14mm to 35mm, as well as using the cameras' wi-fi capabilities to capture high angle shots. He also appreciated the lightness in weight,  smaller size and the retro look of the Fujis.

He also tells me that during the ceremony, one of the pilgrims saw the pictures on the screen of Christian's iPhone while taking the high angle shots on the X-T1 he had perched on a monopod. The pilgrim liked the photographs so much that he persuaded the presiding priest to allow Christian to photograph right in the center of the crowd.

Christian Bobst is a Swiss documentary photographer who originally studied graphic design. For almost 15 years, he worked for advertising agencies like Young & Rubicam/Switzerland and Jung von Matt/Germany as an Art- and Creative Director, before deciding to move on into documentary photography in 2010.  He now works as a freelance photographer, and is a member of 13 Photo in Zürich.