travel photography

an invitation to the imagination

I was recently asked by a client at BBC worldwide advertising to provide a set of images to illustrate a presentation entitled "the business of content, the art of storytelling".  With a series of key themes as the guide to the content and topics it proved an interesting challenge to find suitable images to be used. The client finally settled on a selection and the following key slides were produced as headings for the presentation subsequently shown to audiences around the world.

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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.45.53

As a nice little addition key slides and images were given to attendees in a very old school manner in a 3-d viewer similar to something you might have had a s a child.

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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.49.23
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.49.06
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.48.51
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.48.36
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.48.07
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.47.48
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.47.34
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.47.15
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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 16.46.40

Iraq: then and now.

UPDATED POST

Every day the news from Northern Iraq seems to get worse.  The militant Islamic group ISIL seem to be gaining more momentum as each day passes, spreading fear and carrying out horrific attacks as they push ever forward in their campaign to establish a strict Caliphate throughout this ethnically and culturally diverse region.

IN THE NEWS

I feel extremely very lucky to have visited northern Iraq when I did - a mere two and a half years ago in February 2012.  The visit was memorable for several reasons, not least of which was the extreme hospitality with which we were greeted and the kindness of the Kurdish people.  Barely a day went past without finding that someone had paid for our food or drinks before we could or that we were invited to join total strangers over a cup of tea.

I traveled through the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan for about 10 days with another photographer/writer friend and a French film maker and came back with nothing but positive things to say about the region - how different it must be today, only a couple of years later.

One of the interesting and overriding messages that sticks with me was the fact that people in the region identified themselves not by religion saying I am a Christian, Sunni, Shia, Yazidi or any one of the other religious groups that can be found in the area - they considered themselves first and foremost to be Kurds and were very much against being characterized by religion.  Seeing the images on the TV each evening and reading the news online is very distressing - it's easy to dismiss this area of Northern Iraq as a disaster area but it's not the case.  The regional capital Erbil (also spelt Irbil, Arbil) is a thriving city full of modern amenities and at times you would be hard pressed not to think you were in a European city.  There are shopping malls, ice rinks, cinemas, playgrounds for kids and now to add to this there are refugees fleeing the seemingly unstoppable advance of ISIL.

ERBIL

THE YAZIDIS AND LALISH

Until several weeks ago, the Yazidi sect, an ancient esoteric and historically persecuted religious minority group concentrated in northern Iraq, was relatively unknown. But in recent weeks the entire world has been watching as this tiny group of less than a million people became the latest targets of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) extremists, who launched a campaign against “heretics” that resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of Yazidi men, women and children and the flight of tens of thousands more to arid Mount Sinjar, where their situation rapidly escalated to a humanitarian crisis.

The beautiful and tiny mountain village of Lalish is about 36 miles North East of Mosul in northern Iraq. It is the location of the tomb of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, the main figure of the Yazidi faith and is considered the spiritual home of the Yazidis.  It is appalling to think that this group of people who have been repeatedly persecuted for hundreds of years is once again on the run in order to escape the extreme brutality of ISIL.

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Northern Iraq has already had it's fair share of bad times. the Kurds were notoriously persecuted by Saddam Hussein and now once again the region is in turmoil, this time because of religious differences.  Overseas forces ousted Saddam and after years of occupation left the region in a vacuum allowing movements such as ISIL to flourish.  Of course it's not just the Yazidis who being persecuted by ISIL - it's also any other religious group who does not adhere to their strict beliefs.  The historic Mar Mattai monastery, some 20km from Mosul, is administered by the Syrian Orthodox Church and home to a handful of monks.  I wonder what has happened to the smiling Abbot who greeted us so warmly and talked of the many times the monastery had been the subject of attack over the course of it's history

 

KURDS: ONE PEOPLE - MANY FAITHS

New Zealand road trip.

As a travel photographer, New Zealand has always been on my bucket list of places to visit.  Of course I've always been waiting to have a paid gig that would take me there but at the start of this year I finally gave up waiting and went of my own accord and I'm glad to say I was not disappointed.

With 5 weeks to spend I thought there would be plenty of time to get around and see what there was to offer but in truth in that time we barely managed to scratch the surface of what is a truly amazing place.  Distances might not look much on the map but driving can be pretty time consuming when many of the the roads in some areas are gravel - beautiful and fun driving for sure, but boy does it take time.

NZ-13
NZ-13

With a simple trusty white camper van as our home we managed to see quite a lot of the North Island and skimmed quickly through the top part of the south.  Too many highlights really to mention - surf and beaches great, fishing amazing, scenery and wildlife stunning.  Camping with a van has it's ups and downs - freedom camping, i.e. pulling up wherever you feel like is only permitted if you are self contained with toilet and shower (we were not) - without this in theory you must use a campsite for your overnight stops.  In some areas the choice of campsites was fantastic with the DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites generally providing cheap and simple facilities in some of the most stunning locations.  In other areas the choice was not as good and large busy camps with screaming kids were all that was on offer.

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NZ-18

The trip resulted in some nice images, maybe not as many as one might expect for a 5 week trip but then it was a holiday after all with some stock images shot along the way that may or may not produce returns in due course.

Many thanks to Sri Lankan airlines for getting our boards out in one piece whilst Virgin and Air New Zealand between them managed to cause more damage than I thought possible.  Fragile obviously means something else in their own particular world.

TPOTY 2013. Private view at the RGS

Last night saw the preview of The Travel Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition at the historic Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London.  I was lucky to have an image selected for the exhibition having been awarded a 'Special mention' in the 'Vanishing and Emerging cultures' category.  It was a lovely experience to see an image of mine on display in such illustrious setting and being enjoyed by so many people.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.41.55

The quality of images on display this year was extremely high with the main award for Travel Photographer of the Year 2013 going to the extremely talented Timothy Allen who received his award live on a video screen from the inside of a Ger in Western Mongolia - such is the life of a travel photographer!  One of Tim's award winning images is shown below.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.52.09

This was the first time I have entered the competition and was pleased to find that 2 of my 4 image portfolios had been selected as finalists in different categories - I'm already looking at entries for this years event.

Many thanks to the various sponsors for helping support such a great event - special thanks to Chris and Karen Coe for organizing the competition for the past 11 years, lets hope it continues to inspire for a long time to come.

The following portrait was the image of mine chosen to be exhibited - taken in the tiny village of Kibish in South Western Ethiopia.

Ethiopia © Toby Adamson / AXIOM
Ethiopia © Toby Adamson / AXIOM