Liju Cherian –
Muscat, March 31 –
Six photographers from Greece and Oman travelled for six days covering over 600 km through deserts, oases and the wilayats across the Sultanate. What they saw through the lens gave them a new perspective.
The photojournalism workshop participants were encouraged to meet the people and understand their culture, tradition and customs. The highlight was definitely the desert. The villages around Muscat, the warm people and their pure smile were also important themes. Omani architecture intrigued most of them.
Maro Kouri from Greece who led the workshop says: “I respect the way Omanis follow Arab culture, the way the cities are built, and the way it is decorated. It really opens up your heart.”
From Greece came Maria-Denise Dessimoz, Athena Perka, Joanna Tsakalou, Elena Tsimitsili and Kostas Papaioannou while talented photographer Hawwa al Qusimy, represented the Sultanate. Professional support for the workshop came from Mohammed Tiwaniy, Qais Alamri, Hamed Alamri and Elias Nikolakopoulos.
For Hawwa al Qusimy, the workshop offered exposure to street photography and photojournalism as it was held in various localities of Muscat and other governorates.
“The networking with the people in the interior was the surprise element of my travels as I felt a feeling of warmth meeting the local Omanis,” says Elena Tsimtsili.
Katerina Tsikalaki, Maro’s associate, who played a big role behind the workshop, says, “The resulting pictures and stories matched my fantasies of Oman’s landscape, the people and the colours…!”
Hawwa al Qusimy admits she is proud of the team since everyone clicked amazing pictures despite a very demanding schedule.
Maro lauds the efforts of Mohammed Tiwaniy, Qais Alamri, Hamed Alamri, who made the workshop a breeze. The participants travelled from Muscat to Wadi Bani Khalid, Bedouin market in Sinaw, and slept under the stars in the desert at Rimal al Sharqiya. They also met with people who invited them for kahwa and dates in their houses at Al Sifa.
Maro goes nostalgic when she says, “We fell in love with nature and green villages where during the holidays, families and friends prepare portions of typical food and create a picnic-like atmosphere on the beach, singing local songs.”
The participants came back rich with experiences of gorgeous Hajar mountains, gaining knowledge that one could never had by way of reading books. “With all these, we nourished the photographic creativity of the participants,” says Maro. Aiming her next workshop in Mani and Peloponnese Peninsula of Greece, Maro plans to experience Easter customs from a different perspective among isolated villages and to capture both hardness and sweetness of life.
It was Prof Platon Rivellis, a Greece-based veteran photography teacher, who initiated Maro Kouri to photography. Prof Platon once displayed one of her photographs to the class.
Maro, the photojournalist, recalls the ‘big day’ when she felt her impulse which pushed her to mature as a photographer. Since then, there has been no looking back.
“What I expect from my participants under my mentoring is their ‘photographic personality’ and not to stray from this path. Every day, we dive into the life and take breaks to see some of the photographs. I insist on staying with their ‘photographic direction.”
Maro, who led the photojournalism workshop, places a bet to herself: To discover the charisma in each of the participants, his/her unique way towards creating an image. This is something she sees — from the way they move when they click. Sometimes, she recognises this instantly and then highlights those specific characteristics to each participant. Maro says this is one of the ways of how she became a photographer.
She studied photography for fun, because she wanted to have access to a darkroom. The workshop also combined photography to use the tools of light, composition, information, moments, interview or even a note about themselves.