Cairo Report: Zekr, or Soccer?


On my way to Cairo I developed a plan to photograph and document the zekr; a form of ritual performed by Sufis, a sect of Islam frequently considered as too liberal and too progressive by the more orthodox theological authorities in Egypt and the Islamic world. It was a tall order since I was after the authentic zekr, not some version diluted or prettified for the tourists and tour groups. It was therefore by pure luck that I discovered someone with strong connections to one of the Sufi tariqahs or sub-sects, and who promised me full access to a number of these rituals. The devotions of many Sufis center on the zekr, a ceremony at which music, body movements, and chants induce a state of ecstatic trance in the disciples. (more…)

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A Quick Introduction to Mono Lake

Stormy Sunrise at South Tufa
Stormy Sunrise at South Tufa

Mono Lake is one of the most famous California nature photography sites, that fame is a consequence of both it’s photographic and environmental history. Environmentally it supports the second largest population of California gulls (the first, paradoxically, being in Utah), that support was threatened by the diversion of streams that provide water to the late for use by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 300 miles away. Photographically, tufa, the strange limestone formations exposed by the lowering lake level, the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada to the west, and the gull population provide a rich source of photographic opportunities.  In this post, I hope to excite you (just a little bit) about the area, and suggest a few places you might want to begin your photographic exploration of the area.

The most frequented area of the lake is the “South Tufa Area”, located along the south side of the lake.  While often a busy and well-frequented area, the number, size and variety of the tufa formations there are  unparalleled.  Your biggest challenge many times of year will be other photographers, but the area is large and gets interesting light both at sunrise (both toward the Sun and toward the Sierra) and just past suns, when the geography and elevation often provide strong, saturated earth shadows such as the one in the image I’ve included above. (more…)

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Are You Doing Audio Slideshows Yet?

I’m a fervent believer, a virtual “evangelist” if you will, in combining multimedia along with still photography. I can only speak to travel and documentary photography, but multimedia obviously lends itself to all visual disciplines such as wedding, landscape and other photography styles and directions.

I teach emerging photographers and photojournalists classes that shows them how to make quick work of slide show production, using their own images and audio generated in the field, to produce a cogent photo story under the simulation of publishing deadlines. Most of the class time is spent photographing in the field, while indoors time is devoted to weaving the material into photo stories, and the storytelling; the core of all multimedia productions. I will be teaching such a class at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in the Himalayan foothills of India in July 2009. (more…)

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Fixers, Field Recorders & the iTouch

Having been photographing Theyyams, the religious rituals indigenous to Northern Kerala in India a couple of weeks ago, I thought it’d be timely to share my approach when I photograph such public (and possibly sensitive) events such as those I witnessed.

The most important tip is a no-brainer. Employ the best fixer you can find and afford. I’m not talking of tourist guides who trawl tourists in their wake, but of fixers who are adept in solving problems, who can get you to where you need to be in less time with less hassle than you can on your own, and who have the requisite connections. Good fixers are not easy to find, and must develop a personal connection with the photographer. If you don’t like your fixer, chances are that he or she won’t do a good job. (more…)

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Scouting the Oregon Workshop

(This is the first of a series of posts I’ll be making from the road during a workshop I’m giving along the Southern Oregon coast. It’s my hope that this series will be of interest both to photographers looking to take workshops in the future, as well as photographers giving workshops.)

For me, one of the most important parts of giving a photo workshop is the scouting, spending (depending on the workshop) one or more days scouting. (more…)

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I Have a Little List….

It’s time to pack!

In two days I leave to begin scouting for my upcoming photo workshop in Oregon, today I’ll start some of the necessary packing for the trip. It sure seems like there’s a lot of stuff to remember to bring, as much as I’ve appreciated a digital workflow, there’s just a lot more stuff to bring along. This used to drive me crazy, because I could never shake the idea that I’d forget to bring something, even when I hadn’t forgotten anything. Eventually, I just made a list, and then refined it over time. My standard list contains some things that won’t be necessary for every trip, that’s fine, it’s very easy to cross out things that you decide not to pack. (more…)

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