Portraits of Syria

 The Trinket Merchant (Aleppo)

The Trinket Merchant (Aleppo)

With Aleppo again being in the international news for all the wrong reasons, I feel sad in the knowledge that many of the areas in Syria that I've been privileged to visit and experience before the 2011 start of this dreadful civil war, have been damaged at best, or at worst, completely destroyed. The cost of this destruction is not only monetary, but about 10,000 years of human civilization's tangible history have been wiped out and is highly unlikely to ever be re-built or repaired. Proof of this is the fact that bullet holes from the time of French occupation in the early 20th century were still left in the roof over the Al-Hamidiyah Souk in Damascus. This time round, the indiscriminate destruction is infinitely more severe and permanent than a bullet holes.

I recently revisited all my photos from Syria, accumulated over a number of visits to Damascus, Aleppo and a few towns along the Mediterranean from Tartus to Latakia, all between 2008 and 2010. What stayed with me all this time was the pleasant, humble Syrian people that I've met during these journeys. I wonder where these people are now. Are they still in Syria, trying to survive and scraping together a daily living for themselves and their families? Are they perhaps one of the millions of refugee statistics, with little hope, possessions and an uncertain future? Are they still alive at all?

 The Spice Merchant (Aleppo)

The Spice Merchant (Aleppo)

 Meeting with the Boss #1 (Damascus)

Meeting with the Boss #1 (Damascus)

 Meeting with the Boss #2 (Damascus)

Meeting with the Boss #2 (Damascus)

 Meeting with the Boss #3 (Damascus)

Meeting with the Boss #3 (Damascus)

 The Spice Merchant (Damascus)

The Spice Merchant (Damascus)

All of the photos throughout this posting are selected because they form a fairly cohesive series of environmental portraits with shopfronts or businesses shot head-on. The images from Aleppo were shot at the historic Al-Madina Souk, while most of the images from Damascus are from Al-Hamidiyah Souk. There are many more informal, candid images in all kinds of other circumstances, which may end up being another series. 

I don't wish to choose sides or challenge anybody's opinions about this war and its affect on anybody - this posting is not meant to be a political statement - but done in honor of the common Syrian men, woman and children who's lives are irreparably affected by this war-with-no-end. I would be really interesting if anybody recognizes somebody from these photos and can leave a comment about such a person's whereabouts. 

 The Butchers of Aleppo #1

The Butchers of Aleppo #1

 The Butchers of Aleppo #2

The Butchers of Aleppo #2

 The Butchers of Aleppo #3

The Butchers of Aleppo #3

 The Butchers of Aleppo #4

The Butchers of Aleppo #4

 The Butchers of Aleppo #5

The Butchers of Aleppo #5

Best wishes

Michiel