Sunday, 27 December 2009


Although most of the Shiite community have toned down their commemoration of the death of Prophet Mohammed's grandson, those in the Lebanon's southern town Nabatieh still go the whole hog. The head is cut with a razor and then smacked repeatedly to make the blood flow, or, as per the really messy ones below, the head is repeatedly struck with some force by a massive great big poke your eye out sword. For you here in all its gory goodness...
For news on the bombs that marred the observation of Ashura in Beirut's suburbs have a look here

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Happy to oblige

Richard Ian 'art' Hall, Foreign News Editor at The Daily Star and all-round gent recently started a blog. Good enough excuse for some photo making...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Beirut Marathon

Over 20,000 runners took to the streets of Beirut today - those pictured here were some of the 245 who slogged it out for the whole 23 mile marathon course. In the rain. I discovered the hard way that my new flash trigger didn't bounce, just as the first runners crossed the finish line so, sadly, there were no sweaty-just-about-to-die shots.

Haifa Wehbe - apparently she's big stuff on the pop scene out here. Daily Star sports supremo Kenny Laurie blagged me all the way into the VIP area to take a picture of him with her; I was so carried away with the light-bouncing opportunities afforded by the tiny white tent we were in I totally forgot to get him in the frame. Kenny, I'm sorry - but look closely and you'll see he's reflected in the right hand frame of her AVs. Out of the box, right?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Bad day to be a sheep...

The Muslim world celebrated Eid al-Adha festival today, which was bad news for ovines. Families buy a sheep, which the butcher promptly slaughters. A third of the meat they eat, a third goes to their relatives and a third is given to the poor.
The sheep seemed in no way distressed before they were killed, their throats cut with a simple knife. They made no sound, just the rattling gasp of the air leaving their lungs for the last time.
The twitching was unsettling.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

It's called soccer out here...

This was for a Daily Star story about a Lebanese football academy that just established ties with Manchester City, of all places, so expect to see this guy on telly some time soon. The power went out just after this happy accident occurred, myself and reporter Kenny Laurie scurried off while the kids stuck out in the pitch black.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The occupation of Beirut

At 6.30am on Sunday 22nd it was as if an occupying force had taken over Gemmayzeh and much of south Beirut; barely a soul was to be seen on the streets, save for clusters of soldiers on almost every corner, checking credentials of passers by. With representatives from every conceivable branch of Lebanon's armed forces gearing up for a parade just 10 minutes away it was understandable that security was tight. Anyway, press cards are a wonderful thing, so here are some pics for everyone who a) couldn't be arsed to get up, and b) probably wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the action anyway.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Slim pickings

In the running for one of Lebanon's smelliest jobs, these guys scrape a living sorting rubbish at the monstrous dump in Sidon. Story is here

From acorns come oaks, and all that...

Derec Gruen, centre, is pretty much the Jesus of cycling; riding round the world  and taking the revolution of Critical Mass with him. Ok, so only seven people turned up for Beirut's first meet-up, but who knows what could happen in the future? Let's just hope if those cyclists decide to run with the whole religious analogy thing they can be kind enough to skip the crusade/inquisition bit...

A proper explanation of all this nonsense is here

Monday, 19 October 2009

Dom Joly, back in Beirut

Comedian Dom Joly - born and raised in Lebanon - was back in Beirut last week to research his latest book and took an afternoon out to speak to the Daily Star - see Josie Ensor's story here.
This was a fairly tough assignment given that I had a few minutes in the midday sun to create something striking. However, with the help of Josie as as voice-activated-light-stand and some judicious tweaking in Lightroom, it all came together in the end. Thanks also to Dom for some excellent posing.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The night of the cold pizza...

Even the delivery boys had a tough time on Thursday when police in Beirut implemented a new law banning the use of mopeds after 6.30pm. Can't imagine there were too many happy take-away customers that night. Full story here

Friday, 16 October 2009

"We're used to making the news, not being it..."

Three veteran journalists were fired from the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation last week, they say due to their involvement with the right-wing Christian LF party. Story here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

He was in Doctor Who, y'know...

"So David it would be great to grab a quick portrait before you get going, if you have a minute."
Well, the man gave me five - which in blisteringly hot school yard somewhere in the midst of Beirut's Dahir suburb was just enough time to throw a light up against a convenient wall and bring you this. David Morrissey - respected actor and all that jazz - came all the way to Beirut to let some Palestinian kids have some fun with drama. Read all about it here

Monday, 12 October 2009

Please sir, I'd like my house back..

Palestinian demonstrators and their supporters gathered in central Beirut’s Martyrs square today to protest against government failure to begin reconstruction in Nahr el-Bared camp.
Considering they were fighting for their homes to be rebuilt they were very polite about it all, and jumped back on their busses just an hour and a half after arriving.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sandy cracks

Francophone Games end today. Good bye to the beautiful press center at Camille Chamoun Stadium which has been a home from home (from home) for the last week.

Beirut beats

Meet Omar Offendum. A man who knows things. The Syrian hip-hop artist and poet played an intimate show at Beirut's Walimat last weekend and showed once again that if just once the bright young folks with ideas were left to rule the show, things might just end up ok.
If a middle-east eminem you'd happily invite home to illuminate your folks sounds like your kinda brew, then have a listen.
- thanks have to go to Omar for not complaining once while I repeatedly blinded him throughout his set.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Francophone to the face: Ludovic Groguhe of France rearranges the nose of Romania's Constantin Bejenaru to resemble a bacon sandwich filled with too much ketchup...
Semi-finals of the 2009 Francophone games: Finals are on Monday.

Friday, 2 October 2009

High Flyers

Decathlon pole-vault at the Francophone Games. Still no spectators, save for a few school groups. None the less, some fairly impressive defiance of gravity.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Who is watching the Francophone Games?

Despite something of a media fanfare for the opening ceremony and a whole shed-load of free tickets, the only people at the 2009 Francophone Games seem to be either athletes, officials, soldiers or press. It seems a shame to piddle on Beirut's bonfire but one can't help but note the rows of empty seats, even when Lebanon are competing. I'm yet to cover the boxing or table-tennis or football but so far the volleyball, athletics, basketball and judo have all had fairly small crowds.

Still, it's good chance for lots of fun photography and free food. Great combo.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Beach volleyball - Lebanon style

That is, surrounded by soldiers with guns. But's that's all just part of the scenery, right?
There are still a few days of the Francophone Games beach volleyball left at the Edde Sands resort, just south of Byblos. It's worth it just to check out the resort but if that's not enough to convince you, try these for size...

here for more info on the games... Jeux de la Francophonie 

Monday, 1 June 2009

monday 1st june - many happy returns

Fitting, perhaps, that this blog should begin with a birthday. Above is 90 year old Lewis Walters whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making today. A veteran of WW2 and a retired telephone engineer, Lewis was as nice an old fella as you'd ever hope to meet. Poor guy spent his big day on the phone to the builders though as he's still trying to move back into his bungalow which was flooded in January. This picture was grabbed quite quickly beside his favourite peach tree with a bare off-camera flash and a healthy dose of sunshine.

Below is another 'old man' (sorry dad!) showing just what can be done with a portrait when you've got the time, the right light and aren't shooting for a paper which has more content than space....