Stories

Qoyllur Rit’i


This May I traveled to Peru for the first time.  I was keen to photograph the festival of Qoyllur Rit’i which I had been researching for a couple of years.  Qoyllur Rit’i is a Quechua word that means Shining Snow and the festival attracts around 80,000 pilgrims to the Sinakara Valley a few hours outside

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Pir-e Shaliar


Early in February I visited the Kurdish village of Uramantakht which lies just inside Iran, a few kilometers from the border with Iraq.  Historically and geographically isolated amid the Zagros Mountains, the Kurds here practice ancient traditions quite different from the rest of the Islamic Republic.  They are ostensibly Sunni Muslims is a country that

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Monlam Chenmo


In February 2015 I traveled to Amdo, one of the traditional regions of Tibet and birthplace of the 14th Dalai Lama for the great prayer festival of Monlam.  Monlam Chenmo was originally established in 1409 and according to the Dalai Lama “The main purpose of the Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long

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Pilgrims and Prostrations


A prostration is a gesture in Buddhist practice that shows reverence to the three jewels of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  The pilgrims believe that traveling a distance by dropping their body to the ground and stretching its full length before pulling oneself up, with hands in lotus bud position, gains them merit

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Sunning the Buddha


Monlam Chenmo is the greatest prayer festival in Tibet.  Originally established in 1409, it starts on the 4th day of the Tibetan calendar and ends on the 15th – usually during February.  During the festival monks, nuns and pilgrims commemorate buddha, following various traditional practices.  Monlam means “wish-path” – the Buddhist path of helping others

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A return to Kashi


In September 2015 I returned to Varanasi, to photograph some more images for my upcoming book ‘Banaras, Holy City’ published by Prestel.  The Ganges was still high from the Monsoon, as was the humidity.  Really the window to take photographs was from 5am – 8am in the morning and after 4pm in the afternoon.  I

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Burning is learning


Burning is learning or cremation is education as the locals will tell you along the ghats of Varanasi. This ancient city on the banks of the holy Ganges is a place of pilgrimage, especially for the dying.  Death in Varanasi guarantees liberation (moksha) from the cycle of life (samsara). There are two burning ghats in

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Timket


A couple of kilometres outside the town of Gondar sits Fasilidas’ Bath, a complex built around a sunken pool which may have served as the Emperor’s second home. This, as it has for centuries, acts as the focal point for Gondar’s celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Church’s Epiphany. Timket is played out as a symbolic

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Tigray


Tigray is sadly best known in the developed world for its famines and as the war-torn front in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. What it should be known for, however, is its 120 rock-hewn churches; some dating back to the 5th century, hidden away on mountain-tops and built into caves on high cliff faces.

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Christmas, Lalibela


Twice I’ve visited Lalibela for ‘Genna’ and the scene is truly awe-inspiring. Around 100,000 pilgrims, largely the rural poor, many of whom have walked for weeks, often barefoot, arrive to celebrate the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. As the local villagers feed them, they camp where they can, often sleeping shoulder to shoulder on whatever bare patch

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