By Brooke Anderson
The Daily Star

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The flashes of their cameras light up the dark streets of Tripoli as they wind their way through the narrow alleys of a neglected city waiting to be discovered.   “Where are you from?” ask the shopkeepers, amused that they have become the subjects of the photographs. The group is from Tripoli, its members there to learn about their hometown – and show the world that there is far more to it than the sporadic street violence for which it is typically known.   Tonight’s walk is through Bab al-Ramel, an old and impoverished part of the city that is off the tourist map, even for those rare visitors who do make it to Tripoli.   “The purpose of these journeys is to change Tripoli’s image,” says Yemen Merhebi, who participates regularly in the group’s walks.   “The only time Tripoli is mentioned in the news is when tension between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh escalates. Shoot As You Walk’s main aim is to shed some light on the city’s historical heritage, even when shooting the poorest areas.”   For the past three years, the group We Love Tripoli, which started with a Facebook page in 2007 and is now a registered non-governmental organization, has organized regular photo-shooting excursions through the city called Shoot as You Walk, an ironic play on words for a place known for street violence. The mission of We Love Tripoli is to change that negative image and engage the local community by taking pictures of daily life, then posting them online.   According to statistics taken at cultural tourist sites in Lebanon, only 2 percent of those who visit the country go to Tripoli, despite its historical significance, a result of the perception that it is a dangerous place.   But for these amateur photographers, touring the various neighborhoods is a good way to visit areas with which they are unfamiliar, and interact with people they wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with.   The men and women snap pictures of everything – friends sitting on the street, sated diners sipping coffee after iftar, men playing backgammon, children playing in the street, assorted street vendors, or inanimate objects such as an abandoned building, an old Volkswagen van and a scooter. A city not known for its nightlife comes alive at night through the lenses of the photographers.   “When I first started with the tours, my main focus was the old architecture and historical locations,” says Merhebi, who has gone on nearly 40 walks with the group.   “After going to the same places over and over again my aim shifted from the places to the faces – people in the souk or kids playing around, merchants and craftsmen. Some people ask us to take their pictures, but the best shots are the ones where people are not really looking or paying attention.”   Indeed, the candid shots of people going about their daily lives are the type that might be seen in National Geographic. The difference, of course, is that these are taken by locals who are amateur photographers.   As the number of walks increases, the barriers between the people begin to fall. As the group returns to the same neighborhoods, residents remember them, invite them in for coffee and share tales of the old city.   “We were surprised by the reactions of people in the old city,” says Mourad Ayyash. “Some people wanted to share with us their food and their stories, and ask us to take their pictures. And some people told us old stories about the old city that we didn’t know about.”   For Nath Halawani, being with a group of people who share the same passion allows him to get out of his “everyday photography shell,” giving him the courage to take close-ups of what he has come to see as the hidden treasures of his city: “The broken corner of an old balcony, an old veiled woman staring at us, the mustaches of an old Tripolitan, the rush of kids toward our group and the faces they make.”   Flipping through his old albums, he has noticed that the photos he’s snapped while alone are rarely close-ups, while those taken with the group often are.   “When you’re with the Shoot as You Walk team, you’re not afraid someone will yell at you or curse you for taking their picture. People tend to get more relaxed when there are boys and girls all holding cameras,” Halawani says. “It gives you a push to go where you didn’t dare to go before.”   Later on, he adds: “Browsing through all the photos at the end of the stroll always gives me the feeling [that] I didn’t know my townspeople. It’s so strange to see them every day, [without] having ‘seen’ them before.”   Two years ago, some of the group’s photos were exhibited at Nawfal Palace in Tripoli. At any given point, those posted on the Facebook page are geared toward appealing to Tripolitans abroad. And all the while, the group continues its mission of reaching out to people beyond its members’ social community.



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 11, 2012, on page 3.

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مجموعة من الشباب المقدسي تنادوا بما يملكون من كاميرات تصوير أو هواتف نقالة ليوثقوا تاريخ وحاضر القدس من خلال الصورة. التقرير يعرض أولى جولات الشباب في البلدة القديمة.
من باب العامود بدأت جولتهم، ليست للسياحة أو للتعرف على بلدتهم القديمة، فهم مقدسيّون يهدفون للتوثيق بكاميراتهم للحياة في القدس. فكرة يسمونها صوّر عالماشي استقوها من تجارب سابقة.
صابرين طه (منظمة النشاط): “الفكرة اسمها صوّر عالماشي في القدس أو Shoot As You Walk، هذه الفكرة بدأت منذ سنتين بطرابلس لبنان، هناك أصدقاء لنا تواصلوا معنا واقترحوا علينا تنفيذ هذه الفكرة في القدس كي يكون هناك توثيق للحياة اليومية والثقافية هنا.”
مسار مختلف لكلّ جولة تستهدف مواقع محددة يخططون لتحويل صورهم إلى معارض خارج القدس.
صابرين طه: “هناك دائمًا ذاك الغريب الذي يأتي إلى القدس سواء زائرًا أو سائحًا، من يصوّرون القدس غالبًا لا يلتفتون إلى التفاصيل الصغيرة التي نتنبه نحن لها. بعضهم يعرضون صورهم في معارض عالمية ولكن لا يكونون بالفعل قد أعطوا القدس حقّها.”
صور توثّق الحياة اليومية للمقدسيين والمقدسيات كهذه البائعة وتلك المعالم التاريخية وتلك الأزقة والحواري.
فايز أبو رميلة (مشارك): “المدينة محاصرة ونحن نريد أن نظهر للعالم أنه برغم كل ذلك ما زال الناس يحييون هنا، يتحدون كل تلك الضغوط وتعيش حياتها البسيطة كفلاحين أو باعة أو كمواطنين عاديين.”
يسمعون ويسألون عن المواقع التي يزورونها كالزاوية النقشبندية البخارية التي تحوي تاريخ الطريقة النقشبندية في الذكر والحياة والتعليم وحتى بعض الملابس. ونتاج هؤلاء المصوّرين الشباب صور تحكي قصة الصبر في المدينة وظلم سيطرة الاحتلال على التاريخ، وحضارة لا تزال تصرّ على البقاء.
جهاد بركات – قناة فلسطين اليوم، فلسطين المحتلة

Video  —  Posted: March 28, 2012 in Radio / TV
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Ymn Merhebi (Original Post)

What is photography if the picture isn’t imprinted in the heart before being captured by the lens? Shadows, nothing more. More than you already know, photography has recently become a growing passion to me. Nothing seems to quench that thirst of photographing everything and everyone lately and to be honest, the Shoot as you walk events take most of the credit.

My heart sank deep inside as I went over the album “Shoot as you walk – Jerusalem 1″. Some of the photos were blurry..Is it possible? Not really, my tears simply made them so. Jerusalem by amateur photographers. Just natural, everyday simple shots and I could easily relate because of the similarity of Tripoli’s allies to Jerusalem’s . My thoughts drifted away and I imagined joining them with their journey… What a happy thought!

I’m writing this post for two reasons. First to congratulate the “We Love Tripoli” for making the “Shoot as u walk” event spread in many countries & second to salute to the young Palestinian team that took the journey despite all the agony they went through. I leave you with some of the photos.

Nour Kabbara (Original Post)
Today, I woke up to fireflies. Owl Cities’ “Fireflies”, which is one of the most soothing alarm tones to wake up to. As today, was “Shoot As You Walk 29”. Taha N had messaged me the path last night and like last time, it was to “Dahr El Megher”. But, unlike last time, we took a different route this time…
Ymn asked me if I knew why it was called “Dahr El Megher”. I obviously didn’t, and as she informed me, it was because of the cave shaped blocks that made up the area. “Megher” was supposedly the plural of the word “Mghara”, which means cave. Neat*, huh?
The inhabitants were quite friendly, as most didn’t mind having their photos taken, though, I did encounter this one shaggy old man who yelled at me for pointing my camera in his direction. He scared the daylights out of me when he shouted, but I immediately apologized and told him that I didn’t take his picture (though I actually did, but am too frightened to post it online! :-P)
Despite that one fellow though, I’ve always loved taking photos of people, especially of children. Here are three of my favorite shots of the day, viainstagram:

You can view the rest here. It was a lovely morning indeed, and I’m looking forward to our 30th journey, which should be right around the corner! 🙂
*Note-To-Self: Next trip there, I should try concentrating my photography on the cave concept!

Ymn Merhebi (Orginal Post)

Perhaps it’s not the best shoot as you walk journey I’ve been to, but so many thing got in the way that made it nevertheless unforgettable. It’s been such a long time since I last went on a journey to the center of Tripoli that I’ve missed everything about it.

We went to Daher El Mogher and I’m sure many of you have heard the name in the infamous Tripoli’s  anthem  (I only knew it rhymed with “ros el sakhar”) but when we got there, I was surprised how familiar the place was. The stairs from Qobbeh that led to Abou Ali river that we used to take when heading to El Tal back in uni days were actually the strings that connected Daher El Mogher. Sadly nothing has changed since then, at least for the better.

When we got into the narrowest allies there, the inhabitants were very friendly with us and I just love that sweet sweet accent- Tripoli’s specialty. Unlike what everyone tries to publicize, they were very hospitable, smiling at our cameras and I love how the kids were making us the joke with the excessive numbers of photographers around them  :)

On the way, two pieces of information from both Tahas made the journey worth taking. Taha N asked me if I knew why it was called ” Daher El Mogher”. Of course I had no idea, then he said smiling: Megher is the plural of Mghara (cave) , it’s because of the rocks’ structure that the whole area is built upon. Taha B said it’s the only place in Lebanon where you can buy 5 items with a 250 L.L coin!

I heard the sound of water roaring around. I feared it was a broken pipe and that we might get soaked but Taha said wait and you’ll see. I reached the end of that tight alley to find this incredible view of Kadisha River that was the source of the sound.

We just sat there and contemplated the nature for a few minutes. The view was breathtaking and we were really tired. This is the farthest place we’ve been to in our shoot as you walk journeys. Suddenly Farah shouts: A ladybug! Where? And we both leaned down trying to catch it. With the help of Hassan K we were able to catch it. It was very fast and when it crawled on my hand it tickled and this really filled my heart with joy.

These were the highlights of journey 29. Meeting with friends, Farah, getting a new piece of information, photography and a marvelous walk. Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to the next journey…

Some of the photos I took today:

Bilal Kamoon (Original Post)

Lebanese meme shooting in tripoli


Fun, excitement, enthusiasm, passion, positive energy, sunday mornings’ serenity, nature, photography… all in one place at the same time. Is this even possible? Absolutely! It’s Shoot As You Walk in its 29th adventure for 11/03/2012.
Shoot As You Walk is a public event organized by We Love Tripoli, a Lebanese, youth-led, non-governmental organization promoting social activism in Tripoli-Lebanon.

“A good photographer must love life more than he loves photography.” ~Joel Strasser

I was delighted during the trip for being with such a lovely group of positive and conscious people. That alone would make the trip worth going.
But since words can never be a match for photos, I leave you with the event’s albums for you to enjoy and contemplate:
Nour Kabbara (Original Post)
The winds of change haven’t left us yet. This March has been the coldest month we’ve had this year, with snow and rain and blistering cold! Despite the weather, “Shoot As You Walk” is back with it’s 1st adventure of 2012!
This time, the path was a one less travelled, to Dahr El Megher, an area between Abou Ali River and The Citadel of Saint Gilles. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Organized by: We Love Zaghouan
Date: 26 Feb 2012
Place: Zaghouan
State: Tunisia

The talented photographer Nour Kabbara speaking about her experience with We Love Tripoli and Shoot as you walk project on LBC’s Helwi Beirut. Nour inaugurates her first photo exhibition Uncommon Pictures “An Emotion For Each” at Nawfal Palace on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 5:00pm.

Ymn Merhebi (Original Post)

Two years, 25 journeys, more than 300 photographers (professional & amateur) and one beloved city. I still find it hard to believe that two years have already passed for the shoot as you walk group’s events! It really seems like yesterday, perhaps because we never count our happy moments, and that time actually flies by!

The funny thing is that “Shoot as you walk” events are organized by the “We Love Tripoli” association when they could be an organization standing by itself. Almost a year ago, a photo exhibition was held at Nawfal palace that showed a collection of photos by the shoot as you walk photographers. Two seasons of Ramadaniyat followed that were a huge success because they showed the city’s life at night and in Ramadan. And recently a website was launched to gather all of the photos of the journeys and events, all the media appearances, videos and blogs. Check it out:

To my fellow shoot as you walkers, I wish you a very happy anniversary. To everyone who follows our updates and news and get to know the different faces of the old Tripoli, stay tuned for the upcoming journeys and you’re more than welcome to join us. In fact, the open facebook invitation always says:” In the aim of getting introduced to some of the historical quarters of Tripoli, and showing the world that our city is a place of peace and safety; “We Love Tripoli” group invites you to a shooting journey. Bring your traditional cameras, digital cams, mobile cams, video cams or just come as you are ;-) “