What kind of photography do you do? Live music photography, travel, engagement photos, weddings. Story behind this image: Shooting one of my all time bucket-lists artists, Soundgarden, after their 2011…
I recently returned from the coastal little town of Essaouira in Morocco, where the world-renowned 12th Festival of Gnaoua Music took place from June 25 to 28. This is an annual event, religiously attended by fans of international and African music since it’s the venue of many world-class musical groups, generally from Africa, Europe and the Americas. To me, the attraction was to photograph the exotic Gnaoua musicians during their performances, as I had heard they had small–almost private–seances in various parts of the little medina in the very heart of Essaouira.
Gnaoua (sometimes also spelled Gnawa) music is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber, and Arabic Islamic religious songs and rhythms, and it combines music and acrobatic dancing. Aurally and historically, its main influence is traced back to sub-Saharan Africa, but its current practice is concentrated in north Africa, mainly Morocco and Algeria. However, I have discerned similarities between Gnaoua music and folk songs from Sudan, so perhaps its influence extends even further. (more…)
This is the second episode recounting my pursuit of authentic Zeqr, the Egyptian Sufi ceremony, after my first experience in a neighborhood of Old Cairo was somewhat diluted by a competing soccer match. This time, the Zeqr ceremony was supposed to be even more authentic because it was to take place on a Thursday night in a small rural village on the western banks of the Nile River called Matawat.
I am ready by the agreed-upon time of 10:30 pm, and wait for the hoarse honk of Abdel-Fattah’s (aka Kojak) rickety taxi. It sounds right on the dot; an extraordinary feat in Egypt where time-keeping is rarely part of the national DNA, and we are on our way, amidst gas fumes and an exhaust pipe ominously rattling against the Peugeot’s floorboards. My gear is primed and ready, and I am really excited at the prospect. I knew this was to be the real thing; especially since it was Badawi’s father who had arranged it for me to photograph and record the ceremony. (more…)