Lebanon is a country of incredible variety:
stunning beaches to dramatic mountain
vistas, ancient ruins to lively city streets,
almost everywhere you go you’re likely to
stumble across something picturesque.
Shooting what you see as you travel can
be one of the most rewarding parts of a
journey and a great way to ensure you
never forget the sights, sounds and smells
of a country. Whether you’re a seasoned
photographer or just starting out, all it
takes to get some great shots is a simple
DSLR camera and an eye for three things:
light, composition and moment.
Beirut Street Photographers, a group
of local amateurs and professionals,
organize frequent trips to parts of
Beirut and further afield, for anyone
interested in photographing Lebanon’s
bustling streets and welcoming people.
Photography club Dar Al Mussawir also
organize group outings to locations
across the country and hold frequent
photography workshops in English
and Arabic. They also rent equipment,
including cameras and tripods.
A Day Trip to the South
If you fancy going further afield, follow in the footsteps of Jamal
Saidi, Reuters’ ex-chief of photography in Lebanon and Syria,
who featured Sidon and Tyre, picturesque cities perched on
the Mediterranean coast south of Beirut, in his book “Lebanon:
Beauty Beyond Belief,” released earlier this year. Easily accessible
by bus or with the help of a local taxi company, these cities are
the perfect places to take some shots imbued with history.
Sidon’s stunning crusader sea castle is a great place to
experiment with light, thanks to the beauty of the sunlight
reflecting off the waves, which dapples the walls with evershifting
patterns. The ancient stone souk, with its pedestrianonly
alleyways, is also a wonderful place to capture children
playing, photograph traditional artisans carving wood or
welding metal, and spot the old wooden carts used to transport
wares along the stone passageways.
For a change of scene continue on to Tyre, where the wide,
palm-tree lined streets are the opposite of Sidon’s warren-like
alleyways. The peaceful harbor on the tip of the peninsula is
a great place to photograph fishermen in action. Afterwards
visit Tyre’s stunning Roman hippodrome. Built to seat 20,000
spectators, it is the biggest and best preserved in the world.
Two Days in the Valley of the Saints
If dramatic views are more your style, why not take a leaf out
of journalist and photographer Norbert Schiller’s book and
recreate the stunning photographs in “A Million Steps – Hiking
the Lebanon Mountain Trail.” Head up north to the stunning
Qadisha Valley, known as the Valley of the Saints because of the
wealth of monasteries, hermitages and convents tucked away
on its tree-covered mountainsides. The small mountain town of
Bsharre makes a great base.
Book one of the cosy rooms at the Bauhaus Chalets and Motel
and spend a day wandering the breathtakingly beautiful valley.
Free maps are available from the Lebanon Mountain Trail team,
who can also recommend a local guide to help you seek out the
best spots in safety.
The next morning take the old road up to the Qadisha Grotto,
a fascinating cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Unlike
the larger Jeita Grotto, where taking pictures is forbidden, here
you are free to photograph the fascinating rock formations. In the
afternoon, continue uphill to the Cedars. This beautiful grove of
375 trees, some of which reach heights of 35 meters, commands
stunning views over the valley and is a testament to the beauty
of the majestic cedar, which graces the Lebanese flag.
An afternoon walking tour of Beirut
One of the most interesting ways to get to
know or rediscover a country is by observing
the day-to-day rituals of those who live there.
Among the best places to take photographs
within Beirut is Bourj Hammoud, the Armenian
quarter north of the Beirut River. Spend a few
hours in the narrow alleyways, lined with stalls
selling colorful heaps of spices, which lend
themselves to candid shots of people shopping,
relaxing in local eateries or strolling the streets.
Next, head south, towards the center of the
city. After crossing the river you’ll arrive in Mar
Mikhael, a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood
where old buildings from the French mandate
era provide an atmospheric backdrop.
Continuing along the same street will bring you
to Gemmayzeh, an urban hot-spot perfect for
shooting a diverse range of people wandering
the streets and Beirut’s characteristic blend of
old and new architecture.
WHO TO GO WITH
Lebanon Street Photographers
Dar Al Mussawir
+961 1 373347