Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Being a Photographer > Travel

Travel This is the place you ask for travel advice, or share your own tips. Topics include destinations, sight seeing, and best / smartest ways for traveling with a camera.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Saudi Arabia, advice please!
Old 12-10-2011   #1
Rui Resende
Registered User
 
Rui Resende is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 25
Saudi Arabia, advice please!

Ok, so i got this job, working as an architect (that's what i do), for 6 months in Saudi Arabia, al Khobar.

I can't miss the opportunity to use whatever free time i have to explore the city, surroundings, and photograph the country.

I've been making quite a fair amount of research regarding photography in S.A., which is actually not very appreciated.

The question is, since i'll be shooting mainly film, do you have any life experience in al Khobar? is it possible to buy film and develop it there? The city is quite big, but i don't know what kind of services i can expect. Thanks in advance
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #2
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
Oh boy ... will you give up your passport there?
I would go digital 100% for such a visit.
Get a small camera which looks very amateurish to others.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #4
Sparrow
Registered User
 
Sparrow's Avatar
 
Sparrow is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Perfidious Albion
Age: 64
Posts: 12,515
I think Monz, a member here, has been and taken photographs I believe ...
__________________
Regards Stewart

Stewart McBride

RIP 2015



You’re only young once, but one can always be immature.

flickr stuff
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #5
Phil_F_NM
Camera hacker
 
Phil_F_NM's Avatar
 
Phil_F_NM is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Age: 40
Posts: 2,965
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rui Resende View Post
so you really think the intrusion of a camera might not be very well regarded there?
Yes.
When I was in the Navy I spent quite a bit of time on the Arabian Peninsula. 3 deployments between 1998 and 2004.
The culture is fantastic but taking photos like a tourist is not what one should do. Sure, photography is allowed but you always have to be mindful of what and who you are taking photos of. I never had any problems photographing out there but that was about a decade ago and the world has changed a bit since then.
If you are getting a translator, ask him about photography. What, who, when, etc. Do you know any of the language? If not, learn greetings and possibly how to ask "may I take your photograph please?" It went a long way for me.

As for equipment, taking all digital means that when you have your gear cooked on the way in and out you don't fog film. On the other hand, slow black and white isn't adversely affected by heat (130+ in Kuwait for weeks) and it can get hot enough out there that a digital camera won't even work (this happened to my D2h in Kuwait and the Nikon technical guy who handles military accounts said that above a certain temperature the camera won't even turn on. I believe those issues have been fixed though in recent generations.)

Regardless how you approach photography, make sure to smile and be very respectful. Don't show the bottom of your feet to anyone (crossing your legs at a cafe, for instance.) Hot coffee on a hot day is a good thing, too. Have fun.

Phil Forrest
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #6
goodtimes
Registered User
 
goodtimes's Avatar
 
goodtimes is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,049
I deployed a few times in Saudi Arabia during and after the first gulf war (1991 and on).
I used to take many street shots using an M6 and an F4S. Never had any problem. At the time I felt photography was easier than in my own country, France.
I wonder what it is to developping now, if there are still processing stations with the boom of digital. Saudi Arabia was not a very conservative country in the past (I mean from a technologial point of view).
I wish you a good time here, the desert is just facinating and the poeple are welcoming.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #7
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rui Resende View Post
so you really think the intrusion of a camera might not be very well regarded there?
You will face srutiny by security personnel at the airport, both at arrival and at departure. For some reason, film is suspect. All tourists and locals have phones with cameras (sometimes forbidden), but a digital small camera with a good lens is the way to go.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #8
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
If you are obviously a Moslem, this is a totally different story.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #9
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodtimes View Post
I deployed a few times in Saudi Arabia during and after the first gulf war (1991 and on).
I used to take many street shots using an M6 and an F4S. Never had any problem. At the time I felt photography was easier than in my own country, France.
I wonder what it is to developping now, if there are still processing stations with the boom of digital. Saudi Arabia was not a very conservative country in the past (I mean from a technologial point of view).
I wish you a good time here, the desert is just facinating and the poeple are welcoming.
Maybe I am too cautious.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #10
Phil_F_NM
Camera hacker
 
Phil_F_NM's Avatar
 
Phil_F_NM is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Age: 40
Posts: 2,965
I think the social and political climate in the years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation has put a strain on the liberties of visitors a bit more. I think Raid's caution is well founded.
Last time I was in the area (before the recent Iraq war) we still had a very large military presence in Saudi Arabia. That whole region has changed and the US military presence is out in Quatar now.
Is the OP American? Or even western European? Those things may indeed make a difference.

And if you do take a film camera, at the airport you'll have to open the back up and click off a few frames as well as have it go through the swab test. Digitals don't get the same treatment.

Phil Forrest

Last edited by Phil_F_NM : 12-10-2011 at 11:53.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #11
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
It may be more fun to have two small digital cameras in the pockets at all times. You can get maybe get some street photos that otherwise you cannot. The political situation these days is very sensitive.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #12
Monz
Monz
 
Monz's Avatar
 
Monz is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 1,063
I accompanied my mother to the Hajj in 2006/7. We visited Jeddah, Makkah and Medina. Most of the pilgrims had some sort of camera with them (even if it was a mobile phone or small digital). Cameras were tolerated except in a few religious sites. I used a Contax T and Canonet QL 17 and shot a combination of b+w, slides and C41. I took all films with me. I found some shops selling a limited range of colour films. In contrast, there were many shops selling digital equipment.

Only Muslims are allowed in Makkah and Medina. I expect things are a bit more lenient in other cities. Obviously you have to use common sense: don't photograph military/ official buildings, be careful when photographing women etc. But don't be paranoid... people are people... a gentle smile and polite conversation helps a lot.
__________________
RFF Gallery

My Top 10

Flickr Gallery

Last edited by Monz : 12-10-2011 at 12:50.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #13
Monz
Monz
 
Monz's Avatar
 
Monz is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 1,063

Infinity Cubed by *monz*, on Flickr



No Way Back by *monz*, on Flickr



Tabula Rasa by *monz*, on Flickr



The Sai: search for water by *monz*, on Flickr



Fruit Market by *monz*, on Flickr



Dreaming of a new beginning by *monz*, on Flickr



Boat of Life by *monz*, on Flickr



Medina Cemetery by *monz*, on Flickr
__________________
RFF Gallery

My Top 10

Flickr Gallery

Last edited by Monz : 12-11-2011 at 02:16.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #14
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
These are wonderful images, Monz.
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2011   #15
jippiejee
Registered User
 
jippiejee's Avatar
 
jippiejee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 716
Monz, that's some great work there.
__________________
flickr
flickriver
---
Leica M4-P/M8/M9
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #16
Rui Resende
Registered User
 
Rui Resende is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 25
thanks for the very useful feedback.

So, generally speaking, you would say that i should be careful photographing, because that might not be very welcomed, but it is possible.

I should probably not get there packed with the amount of film that i would use in 6 months living there, right?! And in any case, probably the worst problems i may have is going through the airport's security checks.

I am from Portugal, so i'll probably face the same suspicions as any other westerners.

Well, i think i'll take my chances.

Monz, that's a great set of photos you have. Those are incredible places, that i won't be lucky to see, since i'm not muslim. I'll also be taking one Contax T, that was one of the cameras i had in mind.

Thanks guys!
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #17
Geordiepete
Registered User
 
Geordiepete is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 47
Remember that the Qur'an forbids pictures of animate objects. Some might find having their photograph taken offends their religion.


'Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Those who will be most severely punished by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/382).
http://islamqa.info/en/ref/365

Last edited by Geordiepete : 12-11-2011 at 23:00.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #18
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,762
ahem ... I do not "remember" ... I would take such interpretations carefully ... there is nothing in Islam that prohibits photography, unless you know more?????
__________________
- Raid

________________
Top 12 Images;

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...n.php?cid=7007

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #19
EdwardKaraa
Registered User
 
EdwardKaraa's Avatar
 
EdwardKaraa is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Bangkok
Age: 47
Posts: 697
A few years back, I visited Riyadh on business and took along a Canon 5D and a small 35/2. The camera never got searched and went in and out with no problems. One thing I found out is that photography of public buildings is not allowed. Taking a stroll one evening I took a snapshot of the main city tower, and immediately I was called by security and told not to take photos, but in a friendly manner. The shot being crappy with high iso at night I deleted it out of curteousy but I didn't really have to. The funny thing is that the next day I noticed postcards everywhere showing the same building. In my opinion, one has just to be careful and polite, and just stop when asked to. Normally Saudis are friendly with foreigners.
__________________
M240 ZM 25/2.8 35/1.4 50/1.5 50/2 85/2
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #20
Monz
Monz
 
Monz's Avatar
 
Monz is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 1,063
Raid, Jippiejee and Rui: thanks :-)

@Rui: if you staying there for 6 months, I would suggest taking at least one "good" digital camera eg DSLR or m4/3 or NEX. If you are planning to do some street photography, then I would suggest a small discreet camera such as m4/3 or NEX. Regarding film cameras, The Contax T is an excellent choice being silent and virtually invisible. Maybe you should also take a backup body, just in case. I think you will have difficulty finding b+w film over there. Colour C41 should not be a problem but the film will probably have been stored in the baking heat. I suggest taking at least some film with you and putting them in a fridge when you get there. Develop them when you get back home.

When I was there, I took plenty of pictures of people without any problem. I don't speak Arabic but I asked permission non-verbally in many instances.... there were very few refusals.
__________________
RFF Gallery

My Top 10

Flickr Gallery
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #21
Geordiepete
Registered User
 
Geordiepete is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 47
Hi Raid,

yes, of course photography was not around to be forbidden when the Qur'an was written. However, image-making was looked down upon, hence all the beautiful calligraphy in Islamic culture, and image-making of anything with a soul, from Allah, to humans, to animals, was forbidden.

Some muslims wonder if photography is image-making, and hence haram, others don't give it a second thought.

Last edited by Geordiepete : 12-11-2011 at 23:00.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #22
35mmdelux
Fight On!
 
35mmdelux's Avatar
 
35mmdelux is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4,236
Nice work, Monz!
__________________
M-E │ 21 asph │ 35 asph │ 50 apo-classic │ 75 apo │ Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #23
Phil_F_NM
Camera hacker
 
Phil_F_NM's Avatar
 
Phil_F_NM is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Age: 40
Posts: 2,965
Monz, those are indeed beautiful images!

Phil Forrest
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2011   #24
morback
Martin N. Hinze
 
morback's Avatar
 
morback is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: İstanbul
Posts: 512
I'm not sure if you can draw parallels, but I just (a month or so ago) came back from a Dubai-Iran trip, and it was quite fantastic. Not sure if Saudi Arabia is more conservative than Iran, or vice versa, but in Iran, not only were people the friendliest bunch I ever met, I kept being asked to take pictures of them.
The only things I refrained taking pictures of, was the Bandar-Abbas harbour (some military boats in there) and a bus full of shiny new military graduates. I think you can tell the pattern.
Otherwise I photographed more freely than I do in Europe, and certainly in the U.S.A.(were I got in trouble several times...)!

As for film, taking 6 months worth of it might be too much. Can't you have someone mail you some from home, as a backup plan just in case film is unobtainable in SA?
__________________
Martin.

My Flickr
The Great Picnic
  Reply With Quote

Al Khobar
Old 12-12-2011   #25
bigeye
Registered User
 
bigeye's Avatar
 
bigeye is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 1,181
Al Khobar

Al Khobar, 60 years ago (IIIf/50mm elmar/kodachrome 25)

It's an oil town and folks are much more familiar with foreign nationals.

Dad said he was respectful and discreet and asked permission when he sensed it necessary. I doubt that has changed. (Except in Beirut, where he thought he was safe. He snapped a picture of a mother and her children on the street and she scolded him for 15 minutes.)
I wonder how much it has changed?

King's Road:


Cool bicycle:


- Charlie
__________________
I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it. - Steven Wright
  Reply With Quote

Old 05-20-2012   #26
Rui Resende
Registered User
 
Rui Resende is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 25
Ok, so I went on the trip.

After 5 months, I came back to Portugal to renew my visa, I was able to shoot freely, film and digital, and i was not searched, getting inside or outside. I didn't feel totally comfortable shooting in the streets. Mostly I pretended to shoot landscapes when i actually was trying to capture some life scene. I never had any problems with anyone, but some cool people i came to know there confirmed that maybe it would be better for me to keep a very low profile while making street photography. So i did.

I took several cameras:
Nikon D60, as a digital
Contax T (the one i used the most, due to its invisibility)
Leica CL+summicron 40mm
Minolta CLE+28mm

I'll go back there for another 2 or 3 months, to fullfill my contract. In the meanwhile here are some samples i got so far.



















I'll keep this thread alive, hope you enjoy. As a non-muslim, my access to certain key aspects of arab life were impeded to me.
  Reply With Quote

Old 06-29-2012   #27
-JQ-
Registered User
 
-JQ-'s Avatar
 
-JQ- is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 35
I for one would like to see more and keep this thread alive.

Are you still over there?
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:09.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.