Faces of Cairo
Faces of Cairo a collection of photographs that takes you on a tour of the land and its people; the streets, the markets, the African desert and the path of history.
Cairo is chaos at its most magnificent, infuriating and beautiful. From above, the distorted roar of the muezzins’ call to prayer echoes out from duelling minarets. Below, car horns bellow tuneless symphonies amid avenues of faded 19th-century grandeur, while donkey carts rattle down dusty lanes lined with colossal monuments. This city’s constant buzz is a product of its 20 million inhabitants, simultaneously stretching Cairo’s infrastructure, crushing it under their collective weight. The smog is heavy and car toots are overwhelming, but its energy is stimulating and exhilarating!
In January 2020, I was so privileged to visit the ancient city and tell the story of its people. What stood out to me the most was how friendly the people were. I first shook their hands warmly and then asked in Arabic: “Can I take your photo?” I gave people my full attention and most were delighted to have their portrait taken, especially once they learned that I came from New Zealand. I showed them the back of my camera at the end so they could appreciate their photo. They always felt honoured and respected. I consider it my privilege to be able to share these glimpses into their lives with the wider world.
I wanted to visit Cairo for a long time and was so glad when the opportunity came. I always admired the long and rich history of Egypt and found the experience of modern-day Cairo to be incredible in its own right. The whole city buzzes with all kinds of different people. Despite many of the people being poor, they have a wonderful faith in Allah.
Considered to be one of the cradles of civilisation, Cairo is an incredible place – the Egyptians refer to it as “the Mother of the World”. Throughout history, Egypt has witnessed some of the fundamental steps humanity has made in the developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. It has been influenced by many empires over the years: Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, Turkish, and Nubian to name a few.
Faces of Cairo is a documentary collection. Most of the photos had little or no retouching. I asked people to look straight into my camera, so these are not candid photos. The strength of this series is in giving viewers a rare opportunity to connect with the common Egyptian people in their natural environment. This diverse group of people serves as a timely reminder that, despite our many cultural differences, we can unite as a community through the power of photography. The collection is a celebration of our shared values of hard work, the importance of family and caring for each other as humans. I hope that through this portfolio viewers learn about the Egyptian people. In sharing this portfolio I encourage viewers to show tolerance: to accept others and to recognise the value of cultural diversity. We would all experience an enhanced sense of community if we took the time to appreciate interactions which allow us to discover the world beyond our familiar boundaries. We are all wonderfully unique, yet, at the same time, we are deeply the same.
I present these photographs in timeless monochrome, to ensure consistency and flow of the series amidst the chaos and clutter of the busy environment. My aim is to create an authentic portfolio of diverse individuals in a foreign land. My goal is to tell their stories using a clear narrative style and enduring quality. The portraits are crisp and sharp, to allow the details to inspire your imagination and to evoke emotions. I hope that viewers feel the atmosphere and connect with the people.