I recently came back from a photography trip where I visited Uganda and a small part of Rwanda. It took me a long time to pick the country to visit and I almost ended up going to Philippines. Thank God I didn’t, because it was during the time when the typhoon hit the islands. Eventually I decided to come back to Africa and chose Uganda. Many years ago I watched a movie called Gorillas In The Mist and since then mountain gorillas were on my bucket list to see and photograph. My flight back home was via Juba, Sudan, but I changed it last minute due to a hunch – I was able to avoid the conflict that happened there during at the time of my flight back.
People in Uganda are generally pretty warm and inviting. Although many cannot speak English well, it is impossible not to notice how sincere their smiles are. This was definitely one of those trips which is going to have a special place in my memory. After returning back home from trips like this I always evaluate my life and priorities. It is so nice to see how people in these poor African countries can find happiness in such simple things and they do not need to surround themselves with luxury “toys”. Below you can find a few photographs of people, beautiful nature, amazing scenery and of course wild animals. I’ve also made notes bellow some images to further explain what is being shown.
A portrait of woman is sitting near her house and cleaning rice. She then will sell the rice along with few other items and use the money to buy a whole chicken. Meat is expensive and most people only eat it during holidays. Christmas is coming and a lot of people in Uganda buy meat(goat or chicken) for the Christmas dinner. Sometimes a purchase is split between a few families if none of them can afford to buy it on their own.
90% of Uganda is located 900-2,000meters above sea level. This particular region is above 2,000 meters. You can see how all of the land including slopes that exceed 60 degrees(!!) in some areas are covered by small farm lands. First, the owner of the land has to walk many miles to reach it and then climb up or down to get to the small piece of land they own.
Early morning sunrise. I took this portrait of a woman who walked 2 hours from her village to reach a small piece of land she owns in the region I described above. She will work until evening and then head back home.
Saw this woman sitting near her house as I was exploring her village and I just had to approach and take a photograph.
A boy in a mountainous village is playing with a ball made from plastic bags and he is really good at it for his age. I can really see him playing the big league in the future if he continues advancing and finds a way to try out.
Boy playing soccer while looking after the cattle. They received this ball from a tourist.
I am trying to catch some action of boys playing soccer while they are looking after the cattle.
This portrait was taken near a main road. This man came here in hopes to sell bananas and plantains he grew on his farm.
I have to mention, surprisingly, bananas we get here in Canada are sweeter than the ones in Uganda. I absolutely loved tomatoes there though. They are extremely tasty and flavorful.
Trying to explore another village deep in the mountains.
I brought a few small gifts for him and it was heartbreaking to see tears in his eyes as he could not understand why I am doing it. I had no guide to translate and he didn’t speak any English.
Another fascinating portrait. This woman was really shy and took a while to adjust her head piece and clothing in order to look beautiful. I think she is absolutely beautiful and angelic
This family portrait was taken not far from Kabale city. Kids didn’t really understand why they had to stand and look at the camera :)
I was invited by this woman to share a lunch with her at the house. He husband died not too long ago and was left alone with 6 kids. She makes money by selling jewelery, raising cattle and farming. He eldest sun is 17 and youngest daughter is 4. They all help her. The lunch was very tasty. We had sweet potatoes, ugali, roasted cabbage and peanut porridge.
a man is sitting near a bar. What you see here is an empty bar. There’s nobody here as it is an early morning. In the evening this bar will be full. Bars tend to produce their own alcoholic drinks and the most popular is Banana Gin.
Banana Gin is believed to cure early stages of Malaria. I’ve met people who told me they were cured from Malaria by this method.
A few dozen kids sing and dance
Kids singing and dancing. They seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing.
I arrive to Kabale late in the afternoon before going to see gorillas in the morning.
Don’t he look like a young version of Cuba Junior or Denzel Washington? :)
Really early morning, sunrise and I am heading to see mountain gorillas. We’ve been driving for more than an hour to start gorilla tracking. There are appx only 800 mountain gorillas left in the world. There are none in zoos as they don’t survive in captivity.
After about an hour of tracking, we finally find a family of gorillas. Permits that cost $600US allow only an hour per day to be spent with a family.
I got very lucky as this family was friendly and allowed to be very close. One adult gorilla walked so close, it touched my hand.
A portrait of an adult male gorilla. He is really big and it is a bit scary to be so close and see him stare.
This one is really small. Probably the size of a large cat :)
Located 1950 meters above sea level! It’s absolutely beautiful
Rwanda, walking towards Batwa people village( also called pygmies or bushmen)
After a really long trek, I finally reached Bushmen tribe.
They have no land of their own as they were kicked out from the forest they lived in by the government a number of years ago and now have to rent a piece of land from a person who wants them out. With absolutely no social assistance or any support from the government, they are trying to survive in any way they can. Most can’t afford to buy shoes and forced to walk around barefoot. In the rocky areas they live, it is not comfortable and often painful.
There are many similar tribal villages in Uganda and Rwanda and many partially rely on help from NGOs in order to survive or improve their living conditions.
Bellow are a few images of this tribe
He are a few wildlife images from Uganda:
This little baby is learning to walk :)
This crocodile is vegetarian I was surprised to hear it,but I observed many birds and animals walking around it without being harmed. I’ve heard similar stories when I was in Asia as well. When a lone crocodile is raised among other animals it can treat them as family.
Beautiful wedding I captured for Melissa and Adam.
The ceremony was held at St Paul’s Basilica, a truly gorgeous location. After a few pictures around Toronto we drove to the Copper Creek Golf Club where the fun continued with the Old Hollywood styled setting.
Toronto Wedding Photography
Copper Creek Golf Club wedding reception
A while back I went camping to the Bruce Peninsula National Park near a little town of Tobermory on Georgian Bay. Bruce Peninsula is also known for the Sauble Beach, which was named as one of the best 5 beaches in Canada. When I return home I thought how amazing it would be if I had a chance to take one of my couples there for a session. 2 months later I received an email from Jen who was just happen to want her wedding photographs taken in Bruce Peninsula. I’d really like to think I was able to send a telepathic message across Canada and bring that couple to me, but for unknown reason I just could not replicate that with a few other gorgeous places I have in mind
It’s a really magnificent place where you could spend hours and hours walking and taking photographs in the forest and along the coastline. It’s a place where every photo you take turns out to be of epic proportions
Having 2 adventurous clients who were willing to do anything like go into the really cold water or climb up some really dangerous hills, in order to get the best photographs possible was just incredible!
Here are a few of my favorite photographs from the day.
Holland Marsh Winery was a beautiful location which brought together this wonderful couple and their family and friends, on a gorgeous sunny day.
For some reason wineries aren’t very popular and I really hope these photographs will persuade more and more couples to consider them as their wedding venues.
“Marriage is like a good wine, with time only gets better and better” – Old English Toast
Going through the history of my blog posts I found a wedding that for some reason just didn’t get published and has been sitting in Drafts for a while.
This awesome Russian and Armenian couple from Buffalo, New York got married at Hellenic Orthodox Church and then held their reception at Connecticut Street Armory – a huge castle-like building built in 19th century. I was actually surprised how photographically beautiful Buffalo is.
Some of the images with the couple were taken at a farm where we had to stop in order to wait for new wedding party bus( it’s amazing how you can’t plan for everything). The owners of the farm were beyond nice,letting us roam around and even moved a few pieces of equipment.
I’ll let the images speak how great this wedding was:
About 5 months ago I was flown to Atlanta, Georgia to photograph a gorgeous 4-day Ismaili wedding.
As with all multi-day Indian weddings, there were a lot of cultural ceremonies, great variety of beautiful and colorful Indian outfits for the bride and groom, and hours of dancing for hundreds of guests.
The main wedding day was held at a luxury JW Marriott.
With the fast paced schedule, most of the wedding was covered in the journalistic approach, but I was happy when I got a chance to spend about 40 minutes with the couple,taking creative pictures around JW Marriott.
It was my first time photographing a wedding in Atlanta, GA and everyone I met was very welcoming and friendly. Apart from the bride and groom’s family and friends, at every gas station,restaurant and convenience store, locals would initiate a conversation that sometime would continue for 5-10 minutes. At one gas station I gathered around 20 people as they were all inspecting our new Canadian bills and chatting about our cold winter months :). Extra thanks to Atlanta’s Envi Event Planning team for keeping me informed every step of the way.
Bellow are some photographs from the whole event. With about 1200 gorgeous images from 4 days I’ve attempted to pick only 100 for this blog post. I am hoping they would be able to tell the wedding story of this beautiful couple, their culture and traditions in the best way possible.
Not sure where to begin. I spent a few weeks in Morocco, Africa back in December 2012-January 2013. On my 3rd day there I caught an infection which later grew into bronchitis. I was in a lot of pain and there were days when I had no energy to even hold 1 of my smallest cameras. Thankfully antibiotics did the work (eventually, when I was able to visit a hospital to see what’s happening) and I am fully recovered now.
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime!
During the day it’s pretty warm there with about 16-21C,but the temperature would get down to about +4C at night and in some areas I’ve had to experience -5C while having no heat. Electricity and hot water seems like an expensive commodity in rural areas and not many people have constant access to it. Luckily, winter does not last long and during the summer the temperature is extremely hot 24/7. Although I can’t really comment on summer food, in the winter, meats such as chicken,beef and lamb are very popular,along with tajine, rice,olives,vegetable soup,couscous and bread. Areas near the ocean tend to consume more seafood. I loved the lamb kabobs! I am not sure why,but it doesn’t have that pungent taste and smell. It’s extremely delicious! Mint tea and coffee are very popular drinks and unlike coffee shops in other countries, they are served in very tiny cups. Prices for a cup of coffee or tea ranges from about 0.30 cents to a more common ~$1-1.30 ,even for locals. Definitely not cheap.
As in some other countries, photography is very difficult as nobody in general likes to have their photo taken. Women and girls usually quickly cover their face as soon as they even see a camera.
I have here almost all the pictures I was able to take. There’s a bit more information provided under certain images with more explanation.
Nomad Woman is standing inside her home.
Streets of Meknes
Night skies with star clusters I captured in Sahara Desert at around 10pm. It was beautiful!!
Streets of Fez
Fez, birds-view of the rooftops.
Tannery in Fez. This is where they dye leather products you find at markets in the country. Unfortunately it doesn’t work very well and when you bend say a leather belt, it leaves a permanent mark.
Men working at a Tannery in Fez. It’s located in the Old Medina
Berber Tribe. Mother with her child. Photo was taking in Atlas Mountains at about 8000 feet above sea level
Amazing view,including 100s of baboons @ 6,000 feet above sea level
Street food is delicious. I took a picture of a man cooking my lamb kabobs ($3 for a meal)
Kids are playing at school’s playground… I found it very creative,considering there are no other toys available.
Photo of the classroom
Sahara Desert Sunrise.I woke up at 6am in my cold tent with a fever and headache,but could not pass an opportunity to see the beautiful Sahara Desert sunrise
Goats on a Argan tree. Believe it or not it’s a popular thing to see in Morocco. Goats climb the tree in search of the seeds. Wait,there’s more!
Some locals collect the droppings and press Argan oil from them,which is either consumed internally or used as external medicine
Sweets for sale at Marrakesh’s market. On the right is a picture of Mohammed VI, who is currently the king of Morocco. It seemed to be loved by many as pictures of them are everywhere(restaurants, houses, streets,restaurants and shops)
photo of a market in Marrakesh.
What a great year it was! I’ve had a chance to travel to a few countries outside of Canada and photograph so many amazing couples. I’ve just spent a few hours looking at all the sessions and it brought so much joy and unforgettable memories which I shared with my clients. The secret is, one of the main sources for my inspiration is past work I’ve done over the years. Every photograph is like my baby which I love dearly.
I used to show my awards and other photographic achievements and I was asked a few weeks back why I no longer do that. Hard to answer, as 2012 had been quite productive in that sense. I still put some of magazine features and covers up on my personal FB page and a few close friends know what awards I’ve received this year, but I think I came to realize that the hardest judge to please are my clients. I work extremely hard on each event and the feedback I receive back is the best award I could possibly ask for. I thank you all with all my heart and I am looking forward to another year.
I am extremely excited to see what 2013 will bring!! At this point it is already almost fully booked, with only about 4-5 spots left. 2014 is slowly starting to book up as well.
Here’s another wedding to show. It was a pleasure and fun to photograph. A session at a martian-like spot north of the city helped to get a few unique images as well,for a part of the session. The day was blessed with a lovely weather and I was happy to be shooting outside during an emotional ceremony,which took place @ Royal Ambassador.
Every wedding is unique,even though sometimes the venues and places for photographs are the same. I always push myself to create new photographs and see things from a different perspective. As always, my clients are the ones to inspire me and push my vision higher.
I am delighted to show a few images from a recent engagement session I photographed with a couple not too far from Toronto.
We took an awesome looking car and a cool looking airplane and put them on the runway of the busiest non commercial airport in the country…
After we finished with the planes, a few more photographs were taken nearby, finishing the session a bit after sunset. All that was with a few clothing changes for different themes and looks.
It was especially memorable for me riding on the front hood on the car while it was in motion, trying to get a few photos with that perspective. Yes, it can be done in photoshop,but I much prefer to apply most “effects” in-camera
These photographs are not from the actual wedding. Tony and Varuna live in Trinidad, a country mostly known for its one of a kind annual carnival. They got married a bit earlier and just wanted to have really good wedding photographs. We picked a time frame that was convenient for all of us and after 7 months of planning, I flew in for the session. It was 2.5 days of shooting,with a tiny bit of sleep in between. If I would label this experience, I’d put it as the hardest session I’ve ever done creatively. Trying to come up with 3 days worth of creative photographs is not an easy task!!
For the first day we flew early in the morning from Trinidad to Tobago and spent a day there in various places,right until a gorgeous Caribbean sunset. I also had a chance to try Doubles – common street food in Trinidad and Tobago. Basically it’s a flat bread with curried chick peas. Very spicy yet really tasty!
On the 2nd day Varuna and I spent a few hours on our own as Tony had a meeting to attend. We drove around Port of Spain,taking pictures in different (and not often safe) neighborhoods and with total strangers. Then later we drove to a horse farm. It was really strange and cool to see more than a dozen curious horses surround us as soon as we came in. After that we went to see wild buffaloes. They also were very curious and came in pretty close to us, once we started taking pictures in “their territory”. 2nd day ended late in the evening with a small family get-together I was drinking quite a bit of coconut water during the day. It was my first time trying it. For some reason I thought it doesn’t taste good,since previously I only tried coconut milk,which obviously is not the same as young coconut water . I also learned that coconut water has the same qualities as our blood. It was used during World War II (and even still being used in some countries today) as emergency blood plasma transfusions!!! After I came home I spent a few weeks trying different brands of coconut water(most don’t taste very good…) and now try to drink it as much as I can as it is very delicious and refreshing. And since I avoid drinking water(don’t ask…lol), this is a perfect substitute.
On the 3rd day Varuna dressed up in a beautiful Indian sari and we took a bit more photographs around Mount Saint Benedict.
This trip was quite an experience and I can’t wait to get back to this beautiful country!!!
Here are a few of my personal favorites(out of more than 800 photographs):
With a summer-like March and a snowy April at the end of it, I think we are finally ready for the summer!!
Although this wedding took place in the winter, it was shot in Mexico at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort so we had a really warm and (mostly) sunny weather.
It was pretty cloudy on the day of the wedding and it almost rained at the end of the day during the dinner.
After the wedding day we had 2 trash the dress sessions. In the evening, one a day after the wedding we attempted to go and take pictures at Tulum ruins. That didn’t work too well as it was impossible to get a permit. We ended up at a beach where we took some sunset photographs.
The next day,at sunrise, we drove to a nearby town and took more photographs. It was pretty early so there weren’t many people -just a few fishermen around the docks. We had some gorgeous clouds and the weather held up right to the end. It started raining as we finished our session and were walking back to our car!
PS. In case you are wondering about the masks…Those are lucha libre(Mexican wrestling) masks. It’s similar to our WWE wresting where it’s more of a theater performance than a real fighting. The only reason I know about lucha libres is because last year I watched Nacho Libre. It’s a hilarious(and stupid) comedy with Jack Black about a Mexican wrestler. The guys had a blasts with those masks in the morning, pretending to be one of those crazy wrestlers!
Cancun, Mexico wedding photography
I’d like to share some pictures from my recent trip to Africa. While I visited 4 countries, most of these bellow images are from Ethiopia, as it was the main purpose of the expedition. It was an amazing experience. I had no phone or internet connection for most of the trip! At times I’d put down my camera and just immerse myself in their lives. That allowed me to learn more about the people and their traditions. Living with them definitely helped quite a bit in capturing some of these photographs. Sharing meals,laughs;learning how to sing and teaching them my awful dance techniques were some of the highlights of this trip. :) Not to mention pancakes made from a root of a banana-like tree that were fermented in the ground for 7 months!! Yummy!!
I made notes under many photographs so that you can understand a bit more about each photo and what it represents. Please note that there’s some For many of us it’s a bit of a taboo,but it is normal for a number of tribes in the areas where I’ve photographed to walk around without clothing
The conditions some of these Ethiopian tribes live in is really hard to call “livable”. Many times I wondered how they are still alive. Mortality rate is extremely high, yet they’ve adapted themselves to the harsh conditions very well. Even 2 of my Canon DSLR cameras did not survive the trip in these harsh conditions(booo)…
PS. Prints are available for purchase. Framed canvases start at $700
Portrait of a Mursi woman. Mursi are one of the most unique tribes in the world. They are mostly known for wearing lip plates. Among the other tribes they are known as the most fierce warriors. I enjoyed dancing,singing and trying to communicate with them. We are unique to them just like they are unique for us.
At around puberty females cut their lower lip and install a clay plate in the opening. As time goes by they stretch the hole and put a bigger disk in it. Those plates can easily reach 7 inches in diameter!Lower teeth are often removed to make the lip plate sit comfortably in the opening.
The larger the lip plate, the more cattle her parents can ask for her when it`s time for her to get married. All marriages are arranged by the parents. How do they kiss you may ask. Well, they don’t!
Life is not easy. This is just an example of a female who is traveling from the market where she made a purchase.Chances are, her home is many miles away. There’s isn’t much water during the dry season in many areas and women and children have to walk up and downhill for many miles to the water source to fill up a water container.
I have no idea how they do it,but they are very proficient at using their heads to carry heavy articles . There are no horses,cars or even bicycles to help them.
There are a lot of kids everywhere. They tend to know 1-3 words in English
Kids help their parents with the younger siblings. You could see a lot of 4-6 year old kids carrying their brother/sister in their hands or on their backs.
Guns are owned by most if not all men in all the tribes. Kalashnikov AK-47 is a weapon of choice. You have to have a gun and at least 30 cows in order to get married. The cattle is given to the parents of the bride.
Suri’s gazing lands are under intense competition. They often have to battle with the neighboring tribes who bring their cattle on their lands during the dry season. Suri also have to protect themselves as those tribes do raids on their territories and steal the cattle.
Shoe shining is quite popular in bigger cities!
These girls are from Hamer tribe. Note the hair style. This is a typical hair style for women in that tribe
Often kids take care of the cattle. Because there may not be enough grass around the villages, sometimes the cattle is taken many miles away
Average life expectancy in Ethiopia is 45 years. Finding old people to photograph was a real challenge!
Here’s a woman with the leather ring around her neck. It indicates she is the first wife. No other rings are visible. That means she is the only wife her husband has.
A woman is sitting beside her house. Typically a house is divided into 2 sections. 1 section is for the animals and other section is for the family. There are no real doors between the two…
These girls are standing where it used to be a river. It’s the dry season and there’s no water there right now. Often they have to dig into the ground to get some water!
Mother is trying to calm her child. Behind is her house. It may not seem big,but that’s where her family lives.A 60 sqf house for the whole family!!
In some areas you can find kids on the side of the road dancing and doing tricks. All they want is an empty water bottle. Ignorant tourists feel sorry and give them money,bottles and other gifts. They don’t know that these kids are skipping school with the idea that they rather do this and make money(they sell the bottles) than study. Empty water bottles are sold in markets!
These stones(in the shape of men’s genitalia…) were built many many centuries ago. It’s believed these were built for the fallen warriors
The scars are from the bull jumping ceremony. Women let their man whip them with sticks inflicting deep scars. If I am not mistaken they also put oil or butter on the wounds to make the scars bigger. Every woman has to go through this ceremony. They are very proud of their scars!
Adults often mix cattle blood with milk for drinking
A woman is preparing a mix which she will later cook
This is how coffee is made in Ethiopia. Beans are roasted right in front of you. Then they are crushed and hot water is added. I am not a coffee drinker,but I had it almost every day! You won’t be able to drink Starbucks after trying this coffee!!
Many tribes eat raw meat…They claim it tastes better than cooked!
Women are doing their hair as part of their regular routine.
Many men and women take a good care of their hair…
It took me a week to find these really old men
All the beads and decorations are worn by all the tribes on daily basis. These are NOT for tourist attractions like in many other countries where underneath the traditional clothing you can see jeans and t-shirts.
All of these decorations are to show what tribes he/she belongs to.Beads are used in prayers to count blessings. They also believe that beads bring peace,health and prosperity to the wearer.
Young people sometimes put on “everything they have” when they go to the market to show off themselves to the ladies
Decorative scars. Many tribes practice Animism as their religion. Voodoo ceremonies are common as well
Traditional Evangadi dance
A school at one of the villages. Kids are so excited to see something different for once and not eager to listen to their teacher who had to use a stick to calm a few of them down :)
Karo Tribe, Ethiopia
In case you’ve never seen it, here’s $50 BILLION dollars from Zimbabwe. You’d think you can buy a country with it,yet this is barely enough to buy an egg…
I’ll finish this with a few safari pictures
These are also sometimes called McDonald’s Antelope. Because of the letter M on their butt. Plus they are an easy snack :)
This was a little scary yet a really cool experience! Photo by: Voice Activated Human Tripod. Subject: Dmitri Markine :)