I was asked to shoot some shopping scenes in Saudi a couple of days ago (as you might imagine, there’s a bit of disposable income in the Middle East and the national tourism authority’s keen to see it disposed of in the Kingdom).
We ended up shooting in Jeddah (below) where, thankfully – certainly in terms of photography and capturing the associated pleasure of spending money – women are comfortable showing more of their faces – though the abaya is still worn.
Otherwise, my presentations at the national photography conference in Riyadh went well – both full to capacity, with an appreciative and engaging audience. That said, I fear my translator may have had a meltdown trying to keep up with me as there were technical problems showing my slide presentation on the big screen which cost me half an hour so, by the time I hit the stage, I was like a greyhound bolting from the gates (those who know me are aware of my propensity to talk at least a little rapidly when I’m excited). Myself and British photographer Michael Freeman (137 books and counting) were the only two foreign presenters. It was good to meet him, albeit briefly due to our commitments, as it was his book more than 20 years ago that guided me onto this path. (“I wish you hadn’t told me that. It reminds me of how old I am.”)
Tomorrow I’m off to Madein Saleh, an ancient structure in the desert I’ve photographed before though, this time – I’m told – there’s a falconer waiting to help me capture that singular, elusive shot of Saudi I’ve been chasing since I first arrived three years ago. If I’m successful, it will be a fine end to my third assignment to Saudi Arabia and a particularly full year of photography.