Martyr's Square & Holiday Inn, Beirut, Lebanon, 1992

Today I added to the Middle East album in my portfolio a couple of black and white photographs that I took in Beirut's Martyr's Square in 1992 during my student days as a budding photojournalist.

The two images depict the carnage wrought by Israeli airstrikes, and were taken with my first camera an Olympus OM10, and shot on Ilford FP4 film.

I had to clamber up the bullet-riddled statue to get that funky angle, and felt somewhat uneasy making myself so exposed to random gunfire in the centre of that big empty square. This was because the shaky peace accords that ended the Lebanese Civil War had only been in place for just a year or two. 

Another image in the same set shows the damage done the the Holiday Inn.

Accompanying me on that trip to Lebanon was my friend Brian Scudder, who nows live and works in Dubai.

We Buy Gallstones?

Today I was down in Sheung Wan, the dried seafood area of Hong Kong, to shoot a small feature on crocodile meat. On the way there I passed by a small shop on Wing Lok Street which had a sign in it's window advertising to buy gallstones, (a friend had wrongly tipped me off that they were out to buy gall bladders!). Apparently they are only after cow, not human gall stones, as I was assured by the friendly shop owner with a smile on his face and his arm draped around my shoulder. It seems that cow gall stones are the size of a golf ball and yellow in colour, but he didn't have any to show me as they were "all packed away". According to him, crushed and powdered cow gall stones are used in Chinese medicine to improve liver function.

Tariq Ali on Barack Obama, Pakistan and Afghanistan

If the current euphoria over Barack Obama's trip to Ghana is an indication of how popular this US President is around the world right now, then listening to Tariq Ali's sobering assessment of the 'through train' of US neocolonialism in the so-called 'AfPak' region is certainly worth a watch/listen.

And until I figure out how to embed video in this site, here's an image link instead:-

DISCLAIMER This is a clip of Tariq Ali speaking at the recent 'Marxism 2009' conference in London, and although I do agree with a lot of what he has to say, I am in no way a Marxist.

How do I get traffic to this blog? (and turtles)

Very soon, I'll be posting photos here from the jobs I do in my career as a photojournalist in Hong Kong, China.

Most of the photos in the Portfolio section have been taken in the last six years. It will be great to get them out there so that people can actually see them, instead of having them stuck on that big brick of a hard drive that sits gathering dust on my desk.

There are still few glitches to resolve with the site, like a couple of albums have only low res images on the server so they can't expand into that great-looking 'Full Screen' function in Slide Show Pro, but I hope to have that sorted by the end of the week.

In the meantime, here's a random picture I took in November 2007 of a man in a shop in Nanao near Shenzhen, China, holding some shark jaws.

In the background, mounted on the wall, can be seen a stuffed and varnished Green Turtle, (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas). The Green Turtle has an Appendix I listing on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). According to the CITES website: "Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances." If you go into the small print, this means that Green Turtles can legally be bought and sold domestically inside China, (a huge market of 1.4bn people!), but cannot legally be exported outside China. Go figure, as the Americans say...

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to, my new website and photo blog, which goes live today.

I am still ironing out a few technical/aesthetic glitches, but I think the site is almost there. Which is why I chose to go live.

Comments and feedback on the look and feel of the site, as well as its functionality, are most appreciated.


We won! 'Fin' awarded People's Choice award at 'I Shot Hong Kong' Film Festival

It's been a long, hard road. Along the way we've been to Mozambique, South Africa, Yemen and Sheung Wan. We've been "shooting the shark" since April 2006, and finally last Friday night the fruits of labours finally paid off.

Out of four possible awards, our short film 'Fin' was awarded the 'People's Choice' award at the 'I Shot Hong Kong' indie film festival here in Hong Kong.

What this means is that festival goers could vote for their favourite short film out of twelve finalists, each short film being no longer than 15 minutes. The movies screened one after the other at the Grand Cinema at Elements in West Kowloon, and at the end of each screening punters could drop ballot slips marking their favourite short into ballot boxes provided.

And after three days of voting (eight shows) we won! Here's to the people! One for the sharks! Yay!

I Shot Hong Kong Film Festival

Our book, 'Man & Shark', is coming soon. Watch this space...

Image courtesy of Paul Hilton Photography


All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011