Project 28 Estonia

12 October 16

Posted at 2:43

The third country I visited for Project 28 was Estonia. My chosen town Tallinn. Estonia joined the EU on 1st May 2004 and the Eurozone on 1st January 2011. Estonia has also been a Schengen Area member since 21st December 2007.

I arrived in Tallinn on an overnight bus from Vilnius (Lithuania) at 0630. I was kindly met by my AirBnB host who insisted on giving me an early morning spontaneous tour of the city. The hour spent with him, his name is Marco, proved to be really informative and helped me immensely in deciding where to spend my time. Marco is 42 years old so spent his first 17 years living under the Soviet occupation. His experiences have lasting impressions and he hates the Soviets with a vengeance.


Marco pointed out this building with Soviet star atop. Although keen to see all evidence of Soviet architecture eradicated from the city he seemed happy for this to remain for historical purposes.

Old and NewConsiori

There has been a lot of development in Tallinn over the last 25 years since independence so the old now sit uncomfortably alongside the new. Although Marco was critical of everything soviet the apartment he rented to me was a stereotypical tiny apartment.

Tallinn From St. Olav's ChurchView from St. Olav's Church

The old town is majestic when viewed from either St. Olav's church or the tower of the Town Hall or indeed any one of the three of four viewing platforms around the Old Town.

Town Hall SquareTown Hall Square

Town Hall Square and BeyondTown Hall Square and Beyond

In the centre of the Old Town is Town Hall Square a magnet for the hordes of tourists arriving by cruise ship. When the cruise ship's passengers join the other tours groups and individual travellers in the square it becomes claustrophobic and quite unpleasant. However when the cruise ships depart there is an opportunity to absorb this historic and quite beautiful town.

Freedom SquareFreedom Square

War of Independence Victory ColumnWar of Independence Victory Column 

Vabaduse Vaijak (Freedom Square) is to the south of the Old Town just outside the walls of the town. The square is dominated by the 19th century Saint John's Lutheran Church on one side and a gigantic glass cross on the western side commemorating the Estonian War of Independence.

KGB MuseumKGB Museum Hotel Viru

Despite Marco's desire there is no escaping memories of the Soviet occupation. On the 23rd floor of the twenty two storey Hotel Viru is the KGB museum. Supposedly pretty much as the KGB left it when they fled, it gives an insight into how the KGB both oversaw the construction of the hotel enabling surveillance of all guests and how they functioned in intelligence gathering alongside the day to day running of the hotel. Although the museum tours are somewhat dramatised by the guide it is a stark reminder as to how technology and communications have progressed in a relatively short time. I found it ironic that the concern and criticism of how the KGB and their collaborators spied on everything that  everyone did or said in those pre 'freedom' days when in Tallinn Old town today there are more CCTV cameras per square metre than I have observed in any other town I have visited.

V.I. Lenin Palace of Culture and SportV.I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport

The V.I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport, today know as Linnahall, is a massive, now derelict, concrete complex with a 5000 seat auditorium and a 3000 seat ice hall. Built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics for the sailing events it lies next to the port and just outside the Old Town. A few hundred metres along the coast the Patarei prison and sea fortress lay in a similar state of disrepair. I am sure both will one day be developed if the required finance becomes available. A plan to develop Linnahall into a sports and entertainment complex including a hotel and casino was agreed in 2010 but six years on there is no sign of that coming to fruition.

Tallinn From the Palace of Culture and SportTallinn from Linnahall

Today it is like a graveyard of the Soviet era, a concrete playground for graffiti artists and inquisitive photographers. Few of the cruise ship visitors who pour into the old town visit here although it is right next to the port. Linnahall looks on whist the rest of the town is developed at a pace. My friend Marco longs for the day that Linnahall is updated and it's Soviet connexions eradicated. I feel it would be better left to decay as a memory of the past.

Tallinn and indeed Estonia prospers though independence and the security that may be offered by the EU. Estonians though live constantly under the cloud that should Russia decide to flex its muscles again re-occupation of their country would be inevitable  and there is little that could be done to prevent it. A percentage of Estonians would even welcome it but definitely not Marco.




Visa Pour L'Image and Project28

07 September 16

Posted at 1:09


I spent last week in Perpignan attending the 28th Visa Pour L'Image. The visit was my first. I found the exhibitions, talks and screenings highly motivational, informative on a whole range of topics/issues and all in all a great experience.

I was pleased to read an article by Jean-Jaques Naudet that neatly sums up my own and other's impressions on our first visit. It really reflects how photography and photojournalism are going through fundamental changes. The field is totally different today for an emerging professional that it was 20 or 30 years ago when many of the contributors at Visa were commencing their careers. Visa will have to get up to date, especially on the third floor, if it is to survive. Though photographer or not please don't let that put you off visiting, the photography is superb, the 'meet the photographer' talks are inspiring and give an in depth understanding of the various topics.

Untitled Photo Sophie Fouchier

What's more it is free!!! Free entry to all the exhibitions, most of the talks and screenings. You can, as I did, pay 60 Euros for accreditation, which gives you access to the 'third floor', to portfolio reviews, access to agencies and priority access to the night screenings and some of the events during the  'professional week' which is the first week of the two week event.

It is not my intent to review the whole event here but I would like to highlight one of the exhibiting photojournalists, Brent Strirton, . What a photographer, what an exceptional human being he is! OK there do appear to be some who are critical of the way he lights his subject - "you use flash in the day- why?" asked a member of the audience, in a condescending tone, at one of Brent's talks. He politely answered the question - a question that to me was simply irrelevant. I say Brent is an exceptional human being after listening to him speak about his Ivory Wars project. He is modest, articulate, passionate about his subjects and about factual, long form, journalism. He talks so much sense, measured  and conscise . He belies his stereotypical South African physical appearance. In a few hours I have the greatest respect for him and his achievements. Check out his work and the film Virunga National Park In Conflict.


Above all my experience at Visa Pour L'Image has caused me to reflect on my new venture Project28 . Having been in meetings with so many renowned photojournalists I have concluded that my research must go far deeper than perhaps I intended. Visa was also highly motivational so I really can't wait until it is time to shoot again, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are my next three venues. Over the last 24 hours I have been seeking the most cost effective travel arrangements and scouring AirBnB for the cheapest rooms available (the project does not yet have any funding!!).



06 August 14

Posted at 1:31

No sooner had I made yesterday's post than I received a message from a shy and retiring young man, Gary Payne, enquiring if I had taken any photos of the band he plays with, Neverworld, at ROTW 2014. Gary found me through my LeFlic17images facebook page (feel free to pop along and 'like') and his message began Hi Herr Flic! This threw me for a moment as LeFlic17 did not come from 'allo 'allo and I've never considered the connection before. It's a long story when it is derived from and no time for that now. On to Gary and his quest for photos.

Well I did shoot Neverworld  a talented and photogenic bunch - genre they describe as melodic metal - I'll go a long with that. So today's photoblog is dedicated to  Neverworld

Neverworld 3



Jack, Ben and Gary

Neverworld 2


Flying Dreads


Jack Foster - Neverworld


Gary Payne - Neverworld

As I said, shy and retiring - not!

Ben Cotton - Neverworld


Jack Foster - Neverworld

Neverworld played mid afternoon on Sunday - I would have preferred them to have a later spot (BBC Introducing Gareth Lloyd take note) as they would have reached a bigger audience. However they had a big following most of whom I did not photograph but this hairy bloke who was well into Neverworld did catch my eye...

Head Bang 1

He was not with the main crop of head bangers but ws isolated between two fans somehow oblivious to his presence, well in fact 'sneaky 'tog' to the left of him isn't oblivious :). After a long period of shaking and swirling his mop to the music he suffered a real bad hair moment..

Head Bang 2

I had to be quick to catch this as his head was shaking fast and he rarely came up for air.

Head Bang 3

Normal service resumed.

There you go Gary - apologies I missed you in the first blog - hope this compensates.

Check out Neverworld  here  or ideally catch them live (unless of course you have dandruff).


ROTW 2014

05 August 14

Posted at 6:40

Rhythms Of The World, Hitchin's splendid two day festival of music and much more, returned at the weekend after an enforced break last year. The festival, which started life as a street festival held in a mutlitude of venues across the town became so popular and big that it had to move to a single location. In 2012 the festival, which was a storming success (excuse the pun) was marred a little by torrential rain preceeding the event and causing a two hour delay on the Saturday. However that did not deter from a fantastic festival, run 100% by volunteers and attracting artists and talent from across the world and particularly a big presence from Beds, Herts and Bucks. The festival on top of the heavy rain caused so much damage to the grounds of the venue, Hichin Priory, that access for 2013 was denied. In a way understandable as the Priory serves as an event and wedding venue throughout the year.

However 2014 saw the return of ROTW to the Priory, no doubt after much arm twisting and praying for good weather. The event boasts six stages in addition to family areas, healing fields, bars, food outlets etc. There is no camping, perhaps a good thing, but the festival, considering it is totally run by a army of volunteers is both a credit to them and the town.

This year the first act on the mainstage was the Sir Walter J Wallis Band.

Charlie and Sir Walter J Wallis

Sir Walter, who doubled as compare on the main stage for much of the weekend, invited a lad name of Charlie to come up on stage and officially open the festival. Reluctant at first Charlie soon got over stage fright to did a good job of opening the show. The organisers aim to make the festival a family event and they do a briliant job of catering for families, children of all ages, old rockers, young rockers, hipsters, clubbers and ravers and even some classical music. Music lovers of every generation and genre are catered for. I flitted between stages but shot mostly at the BBC Introducing Stage hosted by Gareth Lloyd of BBC Three Counties Radio. Below is a flavour of the festival - more to come in future blogs.

Phili 'N' Dotz

Phili 'N' Dotz

Kool Hertz

Kool Hertz

Kill Confirmed

Kill Confirmed

Joe Savage - Kill Confirmed

Joe Savage - Kill Confirmed

Tommy Savage

Tommy Savage - Kill Confirmed

Tommy Savage Head Bang

Tommy Savage head bang

CC Smugglers

CC Smugglers

Indi Forde

Indi Forde

Black Noise

Black Noise

Dancing Boy

Young dancer

Zaheer the Producer

Zaheer the Producer


Rapper with Zaheer

Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Crazy World of Arthur Brown

I Am The God of Hellfire

The God of Hellfire

Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown

Zaheer's Crew

Another of Zaheer's Crew

Black Noise

Black Noise

Joe Savage - Kill Confirmed

Joe Savage - guitar face


Arthur again.

More pics of more acts in a day or two



28 July 14

Posted at 10:31

Tarifa 1

Tarifa is the southern most point in Europe, just 15km away from Morocco across the Straight of Gibraltar. It is the point also where the Med meets the Atlantic.

Tarifa to Tanger

It is a gateway from Europe to Africa with ferries going to and fro regularly.

Tarifa Street

It's not exactly a Pueblo Blanco like the towns I've mentioned previously but I guess it once was. The historic quarter is somewhat dwarfed by understandable development to cater for holiday makers and some industry. Having said that the development is sympathetic, not high rise and so far not excessive.

Tarifa Street 2

We spent a few days there staying a couple of kilometres out of town at Cortijo El Pozuelo.

The Garden

Cortijo El Pozuelo is a haven. Set amongst a group of smallholdings on the edge of the beach this one has been converted to a bed and breakfast with a difference check it out  cortijoelpozuelo

Tarifa and the area around Cortijo El Pozuelo in particular is a centre for kite surfing

Cortijo El Pozuelo

When the Levante blows the skies are filled with kites on the end of which are surfers of every level from novice to expert

Kite Surfing 3


Kite Surfing 1


Kite Surfing 2

From Cortijo El Pozuelo there is a boardwalk that runs all the way alongside a stretch of magnificant beach to Tarifa and they even provide you with bikes as a B&B service

Tarifa to Morocco

Here you can see Tarifa, it's lighthouse and in the background Morocco.

The Beach


Morocco Sunset

Above a view from further up the coast at La Duna, the setting sun picking out the Mountains of Morocco.

below La Duna earlier that evening.

La Duna


Oranges and Lemons




Farewell Grazalema

19 July 14

Posted at 3:31

We left Grazalema on Friday to head for the Costa de Luz. On the evening before when the sun was going down we took a hike up to the dam that overlooks the town. And indeed ensures its' water supply.

The Dam

It took about 30 minutes to reach the base of the dam then just a case of climbing the steps.

Dam from Above

Lokking down not a good idea if you suffer from vertigo.

Behind the Dam

Behind the dam it was more tranquil and a fair few degrees cooler than down in the town - still pretty hot though even at 8 in the evening.

Grazalema from the base of the Dam 

Looking back from the base of the dam to Grazalema. I will come back here again - probably earlier in the year so it will be possible to walk some of the treks in the surrounding mountains.Although I'm still miffed that we won't be here on Monday for the annual bull run (for someone who spends their life at the moment doing research I dropped off regarding this trip!) On Thursday evening (well the early hours of Friday) the fiesta leading up to the bull run commenced with the opening of the funfair. I had a little play using long exposure and rear curtain flash to record the movement. Might have done better had I not been consuming Rioja for most of the evening!



Bumper Cars

Bumper cars


All the fun of the fair.


Lebanese Festival Day 2014

23 June 14

Posted at 5:53

The fourth Lebanese Festival Day was held yesterday (22nd June) at Paddington Green, London. I went there to capture some images for my ongoing Edgware Road Project.

Balloon Flag

Lebanese Ballon Flag

No sooner had I arrived there and was taking this photograph (at the main entrance) than a couple of burly security men advised me "you are not coming in here with 'that' (pointing to my camera), you can't use that to take photographs here". I was irked by that statement for many reasons but I bit my lip and chose not to recite my rights. Instead I expressed my concern as I had travelled a long way in order to photograph the vent as it was part of a major project blah, blah, blah. I was advised a I needed a press pass. Within ten minutes and much flashing of my University student pass I was the proud wearer of a press pass wristband and I was in. The organisers were to be fair really helpful and the job's worth security blokes were only doing their jobs after all.

The Fight

This game proved popular with boys and girls all day long.

Also popular from start to finish was the food stalls. Very nice the offerings were too.

Chicken Kebab

Chicken Kebab

At two o clock the event was formally opened. Special guest was Audrey Lewis the Lady Lord Mayor of Westminster

Audrey Lewis - Lord Mayor of Westminster

Audrey Lewis

I have to say after such a wonderful introduction and an informative speech by the organisers explaining how for so many Lebanese London was their place of birth but Lebanon their cultural home. This festival an effort to both retain the Lebanese Culture and to share it with other Londoners in what is now their adopted and much loved home. (We even had a rendition of God Save the Queen to kick events off). Well, Aud, the Lady Lord Mayor I'm afraid let the side down somewhat, she could have said so many positive things about thefamily atmosphere, the dancing, the food, the backgammon tournament even the hookah pipes but no,  she said she had 'noticed some interesting smells around the place'! Her intent was fine it's just that she couldn't find the words to articulate her sentiment. Anyway I think that was the case although she was directly above a group of young men who had been energetically dancing for the last hour so who knows. Anyway she was brief and that meant the party could commence.

Smoking the Hookah on Paddington Green

Well after a little smoke of course.

Lebanese Dancing Men

The men were soon back into it with some gusto.

I Am Lebanese

While the ladies enjoyed a calmer shuffle.

Backgammon Man

And upon the hill the serious matter of the backgammon tournament.

Lebanese Dancing