SPACES OF MEMORY ~ Fernando Pérez Fraile

Diary Date : Thurs 11th Oct, yes, this Thursday at 7pm. All welcome to the Opening Reception of Fernando Pérez Fraile‘s SPACES OF MEMORY exhibit. Fernando will be speaking briefly about his photographs, and there will be (limited supply!) of jamon, chorizo and Spanish wine. Venue : Lightgallery, 5A Porchester Place, W2 2BS.  The exhibition will run from 12 to 31 October, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 12 – 6pm.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)

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I found magic by the river

On my roadtrip back from Penang, I took a detour off the E1 North South Express way and came off at Tanjong Malim,  headed down south towards Kuala Kubu Baru (KKB) on the borders of Perak and Selangor. I was in search of the green hilltop abode of Antares, called Magick River. After numerous phone directions from the man himself, I found myself in what I can only describe as raw tropical rainforest scenery on the road to Fraser’s Hill. Magick River flows strong and fast, and is more than a city getaway for Antares. This area has been his home for over 30 years.

Antares is a very special kind of person. Articulate, headstrong, opinionated and thoroughly in tune with Nature and the Earthsong.  This was our first face to face meeting, brief it may have been. You could read his bio here but then, it is perhaps a greater opportunity to meet him, and his home, by the river. Thanks, Antares and thank you for the music.








November Alumni Exhibition : All welcome! welcome all to their 2nd Alumni exhibition of selected photographs in London. Presenting the photographs of 10 alumni members from the 2010/11 photography workshops held in Rajasthan, Cuba, Istanbul and personal works. The alumni members participating in this exhibition are :
Bruno Couck (Belgium)
David Pearl (UK)
Fernando Perez (Spain)
Franco Pagnoni (Italy)
Keng-Fun Loh (Singapore)
Ivy Tan (Singapore)
Katalin Horvath (USA)
Kirstin Furber (UK)
Leanna Chong (Malaysia)
Steve Leroy (Belgium)

Reception : Thursday, 24th November from 6:30 pm

Drinks : Saturday, 26th November from 12 :00 noon

Exhibition : 24th to 30th November

Venue : So Far The Future Gallery, 44 Emerald Street, London WC1N 3LH

All photographs are for sale.

LAURA EL-TANTAWY : Artist Talk Report

© Laura El-Tantawy 2011

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In the Shadow of the Pyramids is Laura El-Tantawy’s current project documenting Egypt’s popular uprising. Her Artist Talk yesterday evening at the Green Cardamom Light Gallery was informative and totally engrossing and drew a small crowd of interested audience. Egypt is experiencing a change that is unprecedented in the modern historical context. As an Egyptian and living in the UK, she is determined that her work be seen by Egyptians in Egypt. That is her ‘end game’ to this current project. And a book.

Ultimately, though, she would love to be able to display her powerful and moving photographs in Tahrir Square one day, and invite the people of the revolution to see them at “Ground Zero’ as it were. Liberation Square as it is also known, was the hallowed ground on where the Cairenes gathered in their thousands to over several weeks prior to the ousting of the president. It was also the place where they celebrated with street parties after Mubarak’s resignation.

© Laura El-Tantawy 2011

For me, Egypt has also carved a significant moment in my life.

At 8:45am on 17, November 1997, 58 foreign tourists and 4 Egyptians were brutally massacred by terrorists at the entrance to the Temple of Queen Hapshetsut, Valley of the Queens in Luxor. This was a dark day for Egypt. My parents, aunt and I were with a group, about to enter the Valleys at about 8:30 am led by our tour guide. Usually, the guide would lead the bus driver pass the ticket office and straight to the Valley of the Queens first, being the closer of the two Valleys. That fateful morning, our guide decided to head for the Valley of the Kings instead. Had he stuck to his routine, our bus would have arrived right at the moment when the attack took place. The two Valleys are separated by a hillock.  We were fortunate. Not so, for a South American couple who shared our dining table on the Nile boat. They joined another tour group and left earlier that morning.

Myself, taken by my aunt outside KV7, Tomb of Ramses II, Luxor,  approx. 9:00 am, 17 November 1997

My discovery tour to Egypt ended abruptly the next day as I was ‘forced’ to fly home via Cairo, ordered by my better half, who read the headline news on the Evening Standard in the London underground. My discovery of Egypt is thus incomplete, and what better way than to make a return to the Land of the Pharoahs, a historical Biblical land to so many, and a nation that is in transition.

Thank you to Laura who’s work peeked my curiosity once again to visit Egypt, and thank you to all those that attended explorenation’s inaugural Artist Talk.

See also here.

LAURA EL-TANTAWY : Talk & Slideshow Evening : Friday 30th September

In the Shadow of the Pyramids is the current project by photographer Laura El-Tantawy.

Laura El-Tantawy , 2011 by Steven Lee

I met Laura briefly at the National Gallery cafe to talk about her fund raising efforts through a crowd funding website to enable her to complete the final chapter in her documentation of the popular uprising by the ordinary people of Egypt. These events which centred in Cairo, and particularly Tahrir Square was broadcasted all over the world by mainstream news channels and literally shook the leaders of the Arab world off their feet.

Laura’s photographic style is unique, part journalistic, part documentary and part fine art, raw and powerfully emotive, and totally artistic. Trained as a journalist and worked as a newspaper photographer in the USA, she is passionately absorbed to covering the forthcoming elections in a ‘new’ Egypt in October and November.

[Check out Magnum’s David Alan Harvey’s skype interview with Laura here. DAH’s BURN magazine are Laura’s media partner on this project and they sponsored her in February to cover the revolution in Egypt. Their continued support now is part of their counted effort to see the project through to print as a book.]

Laura will be giving a talk about her latest project, accompanied with a slide projection of photographs taken before and during the uprising in Egypt. This is a fund raising evening (non-obligatory), which is open to anyone who would like to learn a bit more about the events unfolding in Egypt, her style of photography and her first hand experience on the ground. Your support is most appreciated. Watch the video below for her personal address, and help spread the message. Apologies for the rather short notice of this event, but I’m sure it will be a great evening out!

Laura has indicated that the first 20 RSVPs will receive a special ‘memento’ postcard print from her on the evening!


Green Cardamom Light Gallery, 5a Porchester Place, London W2 2BS

Time : 7:00 to 10:30pm : Free entry

Date : Friday, 30th September 2011

RSVP to : or leave a comment below.

(Nearest tube : Marble Arch or Edgware Road)

About Laura

Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photojournalist & artist based in London. She studied journalism & political science at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) & started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). In 2005, she started work on her first book documenting a changing Egypt. As part of the urge to understand the issues, in 2009, she accepted a six-month fellowship at the University of Oxford (UK) to research free speech in Egyptian media.

In 2008 she was nominated and accepted to take part in Reflexions Masterclass, a two-year photography seminar directed by Italian photographer Giorgia Fiorio and French curator Gabriel Bauret. Her work has been published & exhibited in the US, Europe, Asia & the Middle East. She exclusively works on self-initiated projects.

Laura is the founder of, a project documenting farmer suicides in rural India.

This event is organised by

CUBA series : Cubanos by Andy Craggs

At the dancehall, Cienfuegos, Cuba © Andy Craggs, 2011

Andy decided to tint a series of portraits in selenium to create a moody and enigmatic feel for his ‘Cubanos’ subjects to avoid being derivative. He photographed mainly with a 80mm F1.2 Nikkor AI manual lens on his D3 body, providing incredible small depth of field, which is his signature style. These intimate portraits were made on the streets and alleys of Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos.

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Cubanos by Andy Craggs, 2011

I had my portrait taken…by a 111 year old box camera!

On the last Sunday before our group left Havana, I met Pepe on the steps of Capitolio, the state building in Central Havana. I was intrigued by the contraption of a camera he was fiddling with, basically, a large box, covered by pieces of paper torn from magazines, on a wooden tripod. A quick smile and a “Ola, and we chatted in English. I discovered he was operating his grandfather’s 111 year old camera obscura, or box camera, ..and…he can take a photo with it, and produce a pretty instant print for me in less than 5 minutes..slightly wet print, mind you, but a REAL silver gelatin print and not a Polaroid! He went on to show me how he can process the paper inside the box after he had exposed the paper by opening the ‘shutter’, a plastic bottle cap for 1 second from the cheap scratched lens at the front. You see, there are two small shallow trays inside the box, which processes and washes the print, then he slides open the tray from the back of the camera, and continues to fix it in another tray! Finally he dunks the print (still a negative image) into a bucket of water to rinse it.

Watch the birdie!

That’s not all! Because the first image is a negative print, he then proceeds to re-photograph this print by placing it onto a bracket in front of the lens. Suddenly, his portrait lens converts into a macro-focusing one. Pepe then adds some ‘old trickery’ to the print by sticking a fake Capitolio dome above the portrait, sticks some reversed “Cuba” and “Havana” letters and voila! (He calls this Photoshop) A perfect portrait of me sitting in front of the Capitolio is completed.

Another few minutes pass by, and he is busy processing the final ‘positive’ print inside the camera and hands it to me still wet. All the show for 2 CUCs!

Simply amazing stuff. I got Pepe to do our group photo after that.

CUBA : MALECÓN series no.4

Photo © Bruno Couck 2011

The fourth instalment in the Malecon series comes from Bruno Couck. Bruno typically photographs architecture and abstracts, and is beginning to enjoy street portraits and close quarter photography in a new light in the streets of Havana.

“Shooting in low light conditions favours blurred images, which in turn give a very good impression of how lively the main Havana sea facing road is on Saturday nights. People running, walking, strolling over from one side to another, from a group of friends to another, from a silent area to one where some music is played…

Malecon, probably the most densely populated place in Havana at the weekend!”  ~ Bruno

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 Night movement on the Malecon © Bruno Couck 2011

CUBA : MALECÓN series no.2

Photo © Keng Fun Loh 2011

Another take of the Malecon series by Keng Fun Loh sees a totally different and rather voyeuristic approach. Fun simply decided to shoot in available light (which in some parts wasn’t available at all!) composing a shot every 6 paces along, at a fixed distance away from the sea wall, with a 50mm lens, and making full use of the Canon 5DM2’s high ISO capability of 6,400. Focusing was pretty touch and go in complete darkness whilst, some frames were lit by the headlights from passing cars.

These photographs capture the honesty of the moment, candid and unobtrusively depicting the locals hanging out, unperturbed by a sniping visitor.

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Take Six on the Malecon © Keng Fun Loh 2011

CUBA : The MALECÓN series no.1

Photo © Ivy Tan 2011

The Habaneros love the Malecon, which is an 8km walkway, promenade, esplanade, seawall (call it what you want) on Havana Bay, stretching from Old Havana and its rickety port, along New Havana with its belle-epoque buildings, and 60’s style iconic beach hotels right up to the Vedado area, where souless Russian-style construction is evident. There is no stretch of concrete in Havana, or perhaps, Cuba better than the Malecon, for the young and old of the city to relax, chill, hang out, fish, dive, and make-out. We were fortunate enough to pop along after our last Saturday evening farewell meal at the famous La Guarida (which is another story) to meet and photograph the locals and tourists doing what they do on the Malecon.

Here are a series of images from the group (starting with Ivy Tan) showing how different interpretations of the same shoot can result in equally spectacular photographs.

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The Malecon Divers  © Ivy Tan 2011

Ivy’s approach to photographing the divers was more specific and focused. She only had a limited time to make these pictures on the Saturday, having just returned on a 6 hour bus ride from the the coast, whilst the rest of the group were either exhausted by the 33C heat, or busy buying cigars. Nonetheless, what she achieved was a tight and close-up view of these hunky boy divers doing their thing. Her naturally amicable approach to people is an asset she uses to get real close to her subjects. Shooting with a compact Leica also helps in this case, where the looming silhouette of a typical DSLR-toting tourist is lessened.