Grande Mosquée de Yoff, Dakar, Senegal

This time last year I spent a couple of months in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. For much of that time I stayed in the beach town of Yoff. At the west end of the beach is the Grande Mosquée de Yoff, a beautiful large white mosque overlooking the ocean. Click through the slideshow below to view some of the photos I took around Grande Mosquée de Yoff:

The town of Yoff is built along the broad beach at Yoff Bay which faces the Atlantic Ocean, directly north of the centre of Dakar. Here is a previous photography blog I wrote about Yoff Beach and the people that live there. The large mosque is built right on the beach just metres from the ocean.

For much of the week the mosque seemed relatively quiet without much activity, almost ignored by the locals. However on a Sunday morning the mosque is full of locals who attend the weekly service and then often congregate on the beach afterwards. The beach is a fascinating place and great for photography, it is full of life and activity on a daily basis. During the time of the Tabaski Festival you will see children leading animals to the ocean for a wash. At the far end of the beach, past the mosque is the fishing village full of traditional, colourful wooden fishing boats. The surf at Yoff beach is also very consistent and is home to a couple of surfing schools and cheap friendly hostels. During the summer the beach also has some some of the best sunsets I witnessed in Senegal.

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Natural Light Portraits in Senegal

Some natural light portraits I took of a friend in Dakar, Senegal. The portraits were all taken with a Canon 5D2 and a 50mm 1.4 lens in and around Dakar. The model, Fatima is a photographer and model from Dakar, she is available for photos shoots and collaborations. Click through the slideshow for some of the natural light portraits of Fatima taken in Dakar:

All of the portraits of Fatima were taken in Dakar, either on the Northern coast of the peninsula or on the island of Ngor. The colourful braids seemed to be the fashion trend in West Africa at the time of my visit with Fatima’s pink ones only available from Ghana.

I have written several other photography blogs about my trip to Senegal including:

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  Fatima, the Senegalese model in the portrait images can be found via her instagram at @fatou.gueye.bello. If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com

Picture a Healthier World: Art & Photography by Geraint Rowland

Some of my travel photography and abstract artworks are now available as greeting cards and prints via 'Picture a Healthier World'. The organisation supports global health & human rights through art.  The images are available as folded greeting cards or as prints in various sizes and with a range of frames.  For a look at some of the images I have for sale via 'Picture a Healthier World' click through the slide show below:

About the Organisation 

Picture A Healthier World (PAHW) is a growing, global community of artists with a shared belief in our limitless capacity to change the world through art.  The organisation raises exposure for artists' work while turning their art into meaningful health and human rights services around the world.  Sales of the artwork go towards bringing health services to communities in need around the world.  Currently, profits support the following initiatives led by UNICEF: clean water, measles vaccinations and school supplies.  

You can find out more about Picture a Healthy World on their blog.  My artwork & photography available via the organisation can be viewed here.  More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  For any questions please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Tabaski Festival in Senegal

The Tabaski Festival occurs every year in Senegal and The Gambia as well as much of West Africa.  It is the same Islamic holiday that Muslims in other countries celebrate and call Eid al-Adha.  For the festival which this year is held on August 22nd, every family has to buy and then slaughter a sheep or ram.  Last year I was in Dakar, the capital of Senegal for the month of August, the following photos were taken during this period in the lead up to the Tabaski Festival. (Click through the slideshow below to view all of the photos).  

What is the Tabaski Festival in Senegal?

The Tabaski Festival is the biggest public holiday in Senegal.  Senegalese people return to their families from different parts of Senegal and even from overseas to celebrate the event.  If you visit Senegal during August, you will see sheep everywhere.  Penned on roads and pavements, tied to posts and cars.  On the beaches you will see children washing the sheep in the ocean and playing with them on the sand.  You will see them tied on the top of buses, riding with humans inside the buses and just about everywhere else that you look.  There is even a national beauty contest each year in Senegal to determine the countries most beautiful sheep.  In Senegal, the government runs a program codenamed Operation Tabaski to provide animals for those families that can not afford one.  Incidentally, I know in the photos the animals sometimes appear to be goats but I was reassured that they were in fact sheep.  After some online research I learnt that one of the ways to differentiate between the two is by their tails: sheep's tails hang down, goats tails are smaller and point up.

On the day of the Tabski festival following an important morning mosque service families return home to slaughter the animal and prepare it for the family feast.  In total up to four million animals are sacrificed every year in Senegal for Tabaski.  The entire animal is apparently used with nothing wasted, not even the intestines or horns.  The day following the festival however I did see a large number of sheep carcasses on the beaches of Dakar.

Tabaski Festival is based on Islamic beliefs and could also be referred to as the feast of sacrifice. According to the holy Koran Prophet Ibrahim was commanded by God to take his son, Ishmael up on to a mountain and slaughter him as a sacrifice. Although Christians and Jews argue that Isaac was the son to be sacrificed and not Ishmael, all sides agree that Abraham was obedient to God and was ready to kill his son when a ram was provided as replacement instead.

More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like me to be involved with an Instagram takeover please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Island of Gorée, Dakar, Senegal

On my first day in Senegal I took a ferry from the capital of Dakar to the infamous Island of Gorée.  Located two kilometres from the main harbour of Dakar this beautiful but haunting island is one of the must see destinations when visiting Senegal.  From the 15th to the 19th century, the island of Gorée was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast.  Click through the slideshow below to view some of the photographs I took on the island:  

Between the 15th and 19th century Gorée Island was ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French.  Gorée is a small island 900 metres (3,000 ft) in length and 350 metres (1,150 ft) in width sheltered by the Cap-Vert peninsula.  You can easily walk around the island in half a day exploring the small streets, viewing African arts and crafts and learning about the horrors of the slave trade that existed on the island.

The architecture on the island is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders.  One of the oldest houses on the island is the House of Slaves built around 1780 - 1784.  The house is now a museum and tourist destination used to serve as a reminder of the human exploitation that occurred there and as a sanctuary for reconciliation.

All of my photographs from Gorée island were taken using a Canon 5D Mark 2 and a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens.  I have written previous travel blogs from Senegal on: 'Street Photography in Dakar', 'Sunsets of Senegal', and about the 'Beach at Yoff in Dakar.'  More of my travel photography from Senegal can be found on my website, my Instagram, and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Travel Portraits by Geraint Rowland

During my travels I often capture people around the world in a candid manner in their natural environment.  As my confidence has grown and my photographic skills have improved I have begun taking more portrait photographs.  These are often what are called 'environmental portraits', a portrait taken in the subject's usual environment and which normally include the surroundings as well as the person.  More recently I have also started taking 'head shot' style portraits, a tighter cropped image where the focus is on the persons face only.  For my head shots I normally ask the person for their permission first.  Click through the slideshow below to view some of my travel portraits:

With the majority of travel portraits above I asked for permission for the image to be taken. Often in touristy areas you are required or asked to pay for such portraits as was the case in Cusco, Peru, and Havana, Cuba.  The image of the Mexican girl in the Day of the Dead makeup and the final image of the Bolivian lady were the exceptions as both were caught candidly.  The beauty of head shots and or tightly cropped portraits is that you minimise the clutter in the background of the image.

All of the portraits were taken using a Canon 5D (Mark 2 or 4) and the majority were with the Canon 50mm 1.4.  Other lenses used were the Canon 85mm 1.8 and the Sigma Art Lens 135mm 1.8.  All of the images were taken using natural light and without the use of a flash.  The images were often taken with a shallow depth of field to create a pleasing background and draw attention to the persons face.  Images of people from around the world fascinate me, I think that they tell you more about a place than a landscape ever can.  In the future I want to focus more on portraits and improve my skills in this area of photography.  

More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like any more information about ay of my images please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Instagram Takeover of the Ffotogallery Platform

I am currently taking over the Ffotogallery Platform Instagram (15 - 23rd July).  I started my photographic journey eight years ago at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales when I enrolled on two evening courses.  Via Ffotogallery I enrolled on two courses: 'Introduction to Photography: Beginner' and subsequently 'Introduction to Photography: Intermediate'.  I enjoyed both courses immensely and have been taking photos ever since.  I was therefore very excited and honoured to be involved with such a project.  Below is a slide show of the travel images I chose for the project (NB: I will add to the slideshow as the week progresses).

Ffotogallery Platform is an online project created to help emerging photographers and lens-based artists make their work accessible to a wider audience, including industry professionals and peers through Ffotogallery's network, and to help create links within the photographic and artistic community.  Selected participants are offered a one week residency on the Ffotogallery Platform Instagram account (@ffotogalleryplatform).  The Platform launched in January 2018 as part of 40:40 Vision, a year long celebration of events, projects and exhibitions to celebrate Ffotogallery's 40th Birthday.  

The online residency involves uploading between 1 - 4 images a day to the Instagram site belonging to Ffotogallery Platform.  I was asked by the organisers to focus on my street and portrait photography as they believed these would translate well to Instagram.  So far the project has been very useful for me.  It has increased my reach and exposure noticeably on my own Instagram account (@Geraint_Rowland_Photography).  In addition it has given me additional experience in the photo selection and curation process.  This is beneficial for both online presentation and future exhibition considerations.  I hope to carry out further Instagram takeovers in the future.    

More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you would like me to be involved with an Instagram takeover please send an email to: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

LGBT Pride Parade in Lima 2018

A couple of weekend's ago along with a couple of Peruvian photographers I attended the Pride Peru Parade in the downtown district of Lima.  The event was very interesting, with some great opportunities for some street photography and candid portraits.  Due to the low dull light I found the portraits I took worked better in black and white.  Click through the slide show below to view some of the portraits I took at Lima's Pride March:

Amongst my favourite portraits from the Pride Parade in Lima were: a tender moment from this couple as well as this touching goodbye.  A Transexual applying applying lipstick and a fallen angel walking through the streets of downtown Lima.  There were over 3000 people in attendance at the 2018 LGTB Pride March in Lima with no known problems.

More portraits from the Peruvian Pride event can be found on my websiteInstagram, Flickr and Facebook Page.  If you are interested in collaborating on future projects, or would like to purchase a print, please send me an email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Geraint Rowland Photography on Flickr

I have had a photography account with Flickr.com for almost ten years now and still use the website on a daily basis.  Although the photo sharing website has been overshadow in recent years by the likes of other photo sharing sites such as Facebook and more recently Instagram I still believe it to be of great use for a photographer.  Click through the slideshow below to view my most viewed photos on Flickr:

Benefits of Using Flickr as a Photographer

1.  Exposure & Reach

My photos on Flickr have been viewed almost 15 million times!  My Flickr stream is viewed between 5,000 - 10,000 times daily and I have had over 80,000 views on my highest viewed day.  My most viewed photo on Flickr, 'Time Alone, Meditation at Machu Picchu' has been viewed over 50,000 times.  I tend to upload one photo a day on average and the newly uploaded photo will be seen over 1000 times in the first 24 hours.  This is far higher than my pages on both Facebook and Instagram.  Obviously I have had my Flickr account for much longer and have built up a good following but that is not the only reason for the higher statistics: 

Flickr is also ranked very well by search engines in particular google.  Therefore photos on a Flickr stream can be found via searche engines and not just by looking on Flickr itself.  Just last week I had an enquiry which turned into the sale of two images from my Flickr account which were found via a google search.  To maximise the chance of your photos being ranked by search engines it is important to enter a description of the image and include relevant key word tags.  In addition it is a good idea to geo tag your images by adding a location as Flickr offers the ability to search via location.  

Finally you can publish your photo using a Creative Commons Licence on Flickr. There are various types of creative commons licence but it basically allows others to share your work so long as they credit you and link back to your Flickr photo.  I used this option a lot in the beginning as it was a good way to get exposure, Flickr allows users to search images only containing these licenses.

2.  Storage

If you use the paid for Pro subscription plan on Flickr you get unlimited storage space.  The cost is around $50 a year for this service which I believe is very good value for money.  As a regular traveller with no fixed residency it is reassuring to know that I have a back up online of my favourite images.  In fact I wish I had uploaded more in the past as have lost or misplaced external hard drives before resulting in losing some precious images and memories!  You can download the full size images from your account at any time so long as your subscription is running.

3.  Portfolio

For several years before I got round to setting up a photography website I used my Flickr account as an online portfolio.  After the redesign a couple of years ago the site now displays your images in an aesthetically pleasing way.  You can also organise your images into different albums which can be sent out as individual links.

4.  Inspiration

There are some amazing photographers using Flickr and it is a great place to look for inspiration and ideas.  A good place to start is the Explore section which features a selection of 500 photos daily.  You can also view images with the most popular tags of the day, week or all time.  The Flickr community is also very friendly and keen to advise.  In my early days I reached out to several photographers for help and advice with regards to photographic techniques and post production.

5.  Friendship

Through Flickr I have made several friendships around the World.  In Lima, Peru I met local photographer Mike Joints who taught me about flash photography and where to find the cheapest local beer.  In London I met the talented street photographer Linda Wisdom for some street shooting techniques.  As well as running fantastic street photography workshops in the city she also sells some of my travel prints via her Etsy shop.  Finally I found the extremely skilled anamorphic photographer Shuji Moriwaki who ended up selling me one of his anamorphic lenses and giving me countless advice on how to use it.

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To conclude I highly recommend the use of Flickr as both a photography portfolio, a back up and a social platform.  I will continue to use it on a regular basis, and hopefully with their recent merger with SmugMug things will only continue to improve in the future.  

My Flickr Profile page can be found here, please take a look and feel free to leave some feedback.  More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagram and Facebook Page.  If you are interested in collaborating on future projects, or would like to purchase a print, please send me an email: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Photojournal - Streets of Havana (Photo Essay for the Sixth Issue of Dezine Magazine)

I recently spent a week photographing the streets of Havana, the Capital of Cuba.  It is an amazing city for photography: full of colourful vintage cars, beautiful people who are full of character, and interesting ramshackle architecture.  This blog was published as a photojournal for the online magazine Dezine.  Click through the slideshow below to view my Cuban travel images from the capital:

Cuba is a country located in the Caribbean, south of the US state of Florida, west of Haiti and north of Jamaica.  Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and has over 11 million inhabitants.  Havana is the capital city and leading commercial centre of Cuba.  Below is a description of the photos in the slideshow above in the order they are seen with links to the individual images on my Flickr account:

1.  Havana is full of colourful old classic cars.  Here one causes a splash after a rainfall in front of an Orthodox Russian Church along the seafront.  

2.  The city of Havana attracts over a million tourists annually, subsequently the entrepreneurial locals have figured out ways to cash in such as posing for photographs with the local cigars.

3.  The streets of Havana are full of energy and life.  Here a taxi driver stops to buy some fresh fruit, while a man on his bicycle sells freshly cut flowers.

4.  You hear music everywhere in Havana, here some street musicians play the classic Cuban song, 'Guantanamera'.

5.  Along with classic cars you will find many other forms of transport in Havana including the Horse & Cart which is used an an alternative form of taxi for the locals.

6.  Evidence of Cuban's communist past still exist throughout Havana.  Here a local poses as Che Guevara for the benefit of the tourists.  

7.  Havana is full of beautiful, colourful, old colonial buildings, many of which have fallen into ruin including these along the seafront.

I have written two previous photography blog posts from my trip to Cuba, the first being, 'Street Portraits in Havana, Cuba', and the second, 'Cuba and Cigars'.  More of my travel photography from Havana can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  This photo journal, 'Streets of Havana' can be viewed in full here in the sixth issue of Dezine magazine.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com