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Yalla Habibi – The heartrending story of Syria told in pictures

From Aleppo with love, pain and passion

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Is #Photojournalism dying? As social media slowly assumes greater importance than print media this is a pertinent question that should be asked. Are professional photographers becoming unwanted in an era whereany amateur armed with a smartphone can take a picture which will get them their two minutes of fame? And when you can broadcast live feed of an event to the whole wide world why bother taking pictures at all? It is not surprising then that in many of the leading newspapers where we are seeing layoffs the first in the firing line happen to be the photographers.

The reach of the internet is such that rather than spend money (considerable) sending these photographers on off shore assignments it is easier to look up a search engine for local talent and get them to email whatever it is that is needed. The point being that the social media works differently when compared with tradional forms of #Reporting. With social media everyone is geared towards one thing only. To get a story to go viral. And before you know it everyone has already moved on. To the next one. In these strange times something like this poignant photobook is worth it. It is called #YallaHabibi.

That Syria has been hit by a bloody civil war is well known to most of us. And at the epicentre of this has been the city of Aleppo which incidentally is the largest one in the country. It was in the year of 2011 that protests first erupted against the authoritarian regime in Syria and this was almost immediately followed by a civil war which went on four long years. The city of #Aleppo which is an official #UN World Heritage Site was the worst affected and several precious works of exceptional architecture were all destroyed. Over thirty thousand people were killed (officially) and it all ended towards the end of last year with government forces recapturing the city of Aleppo. Yalla Habibi is a labour of love by young photo journalist Hosam Katan.

Aleppo is home for Hosam Katan. Enthusiastic about photography since he was a kid, it was by being with international reporters & photographers that he learnt the basic nuances of photography. At the age of 21, Katan became the first winner of the #IAFOR Documentary Photography Award in the year 2015. If you have seen pictures of the terrible conflict in newspapers or on the internet they would have stirred your soul. And chances are that almost all those pictures were taken by the young Hosam Katan. Each picture tells a thousand stories and it would not be wrong to say that this photobook called Yalla Habibi recounts the four year long Civil War in a way that no book, novel or film will ever be able to.

Yalla Habibi means Come on, my dear. #Hosam has compiled some of the best photos that he had taken from 2013 to 2015 which was the most violent phase of this whole #Syria conflict and the #Photobook will be the place where you will get to see history revisited. And then there are the questions. What happened to all those magnificent monuments, mosques and churches? How did the people of East Aleppo survive in those terrible times of war and bloodshed? Why is it that innocent bystanders even women & children not spared in those heinous attacks? Yalla Habibi provides answers to all this and more. Through pictures. They say that a story can lie. But a picture tells nothing but the truth. Always.

Before ending one must mention that this photobook is priced at just over fifty dollars, $59 to be precise. But let us not allow that to come in the way of supporting this young lad and his extraordinary work. In the process you will also have done your bit to save the dying breed, of photo journalists. So do contribute as much as you can.


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