Mecca: Everything changes, yet stays the same
The tragic death of hundreds of pilgrims in Mecca focused attention on this year’s Hajj. What is it like to first visit this center of the Islamic faith, closed to outsiders?
It was my first time in Mecca and Medina and I went there to perform the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
Upon arrival, it was wonderful to see so many Muslims from all around the world gathering in one place.
I felt a responsibility as a pilgrim myself to show the amazing rituals as best I could. Every evening, I planned out my schedule for the next day to make sure I was in the best place for photographs.
As a photographer, the most interesting location was the top of Mount Arafat and the Hira Cave as the moments there were more intimate. The Hajj is fast but capturing some of the details is the best way to approach such a big subject.
I expected some difficulty with the hot weather in Saudi Arabia but the pilgrim robes kept me cool. I was wearing the Hajj robes and I was just carrying my camera. As a photographer, though, it is always harder to shoot during the day in bright sun.
I prefer to take photographs at times when the lighting is less harsh and direct but sometimes you have no choice - and the Hajj is definitely one of those times.