All posts by Ahsan Abbas

Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation by Mathieu Asselin

Walking down the stairs from Level 5 of the Photographers Gallery

I recently had an opportunity to drop by the Photographers Gallery in London and found Mathieu Asselin’s project Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation an excellent exhibition. The investigation looks into the practices of Monsanto as one of the largest chemical corporations in the world and their impact on farmers as well as the environment globally. Mathieu’s approach to the investigation was fascinating and the book he produced with a collaborator from Venezuela drew me into the realities of the work of the corporation. I highly recommend seeing this exhibition which is located on Level 5 at the gallery!

The daily struggle

‘I want to be a World Champion’

 

Every day is a hustle for young Ghanaians today. Many young people do not have access to a basic education due to the high monthly fees. Many end up working in the informal sector getting paid day-to-day trying to compliment the household income in any way possible. Some still come every day to train after 4 pm to chase their dream of a better life.

An afternoon walk through Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Jamestown is a popular destination with tourists visiting Accra, and so overtime locals have become more averse to passers-by and in some cases more hardened. The prevailing feeling from talking to locals has been that pictures taken will be sold to magazines and the images will be used as a source of amusement for audiences in Europe and North America. So, it wasn’t surprising that when we arrived here, cameras at the ready that we were immediately approached by the ‘tourism officer’ who demanded a tax for entering Jamestown and payment for a ‘compulsory’ guide. After a rather optimistic demand of 150 Ghanian Cedis (GH₵), we decided to walk away in the direction of Accra city centre only to be halted by the same ‘officer’ who now offered to reduce the price to 30 GH₵ and provide us with his best female tour guide. Within a few minutes, we were on our way down towards the beach with a very expressive hostess. People in Ghana are very open and friendly, however taking photos without permission is certainly a no-no. In Jamestown, extra caution has to take place, and we shot only when we had gestured for a photo and permission being granted. Our hostess, who had a very important business meeting to attend to, decided to make time for us and guide us through the settlement. Rosie was to tell us when we could and couldn’t take any photos, although she was more interested in attention on herself. The heat and intense smell of the waste along the beach front rose as we walked through patches of sand and rubbish strewn across the beachfront. The population across this stretch of coastline has dramatically increased over the past two decades, and many fishermen use this site every day.

 

Sunset on the way back to Beirut

Driving back to Beirut from the Saint Charbel Monastery the sun was setting and so we decided to pull over and enjoy the view. The colours are so radiant and ever changing, for a photographer there an infinite number of possibilities when setting up to take a shot under these conditions. Don’t overthink it, keep it simple and take the shot that you love.

 

Explore the beautiful Beit ed-Dine Palace

 

Beit ed-Dine is a small town and municipality in the Chouf District of the Mount Lebanon Governorate in Lebanon. It is about 45 kilometres southeast of Beirut. The area is predominantly Christian, and it is most well known for its 18th century Beiteddine Palace. Built by Emir Bashir II in 1788 the site’s control has been interchanged between the Ottoman Empire and later the French Mandate. Today you can enjoy walking around this beautiful palace after a short drive from Beirut. Entry for a nominal fee, you can explore some beautiful gardens and mosaics as well as the lavish lifestyle the inhabitants once had. Today it remains open to the public however it can be enjoyed by the sitting President as a summers residence.

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