Ali Saif El Deen has been employed as a photojournalist for Al Khaleej el Emirates, the leading daily newspaper in Lebanon , since 1999. In 1975 he began his studies in cinematography. Unfortunately, due to political unrest and economic hardship, he was forced to discontinue his academic studies. Ironically, the very cause of his suspended studies provided the impetus for his unfaltering commitment to a life long career in press photography. Undeterred by his circumstances, he advanced his photographic skills through participation in photographic workshops, photography organizations and personal research.
Ali considers photographs analogous to testimonials. He asserts that “Photos are the prevailing force for actualizing life. The photographer is the spectator and the photograph is the witness.”
Ali maintains that the most politically corruptive and socially destructive period in Lebanese history occurred during the civil war, at which time photographers were subjected to kidnapping by the military, confiscation of cameras, and targeted for beatings and assassinations. He states that “The interference of the militia in the press and media took a horrendous toll on the future of Lebanon . The militia conspired the death of the president, George Semerdjian, and other beloved leaders and colleagues and concealed the truth from the public.”
Ali Saif el Deen asserts that “The goal of the photographer is to capture the hidden elements surrounding an event and to expose them. By so doing the social and political veils are stripped away. The photograph is a guide meant to inform and disclose. The photograph communicates the photographer’s intellect and awareness. The photographer is the messenger of knowledge.” He considers the camera to be his most significant companion, trusted friend, and ticket to the battlefield. He equates the disappearance of his camera with the loss of a body part.
Religion, color, race, and gender are insignificant distinctions for Ali Saif el Deen. The only distinction he makes between human beings is “…those who breathe and those who don’t. Those who breathe have emotions.” He views his position as a photojournalist during times of war as second to assisting those in danger. He photographs as much and as often as possible but states, “I can take a picture and lend a hand at the same time.” Consciously aware that he could end up a victim, he steadfastly refuses to terminate his risky and life threatening profession.
The collateral damage of war and the toll it has taken on the magnificent natural beauty of Lebanon has gravely affected Ali’s ability to preserve his beloved land in photographs. He states, “ Lebanon is an astonishingly beautiful country with many magnificent and notorious mountain ranges, including Bsharri and Ayoun Erghoush. Ayoun Erghoush, located near Al Arz, houses seventeen springs, water ponds and restaurants.” During peaceful times Ali Saif el Deen and his colleagues lead photographic tours into the mountains. One of his many tours took him to Maroon Al Raes on July 12, 2006, located on the border of Lebanon and Israel . While the group was resting and enjoying the fresh air after photographing suddenly bombs exploded on all sides of them. They found themselves enmeshed in a life threatening situation and, rather than seeking cover, used the opportunity to photograph the military violations. Returning to Beirut they encountered numerous destroyed cars and vehicles. The group barely escaped with their lives when a bridge was bombed immediately after their crossing. A relaxing photography trip in the country could have easily turned into a horrendous tragedy for everyone.
He states that “A photograph is a true and sincere expression of all incidents that involve human interaction.” His hopes are that in the future photographers and artists will receive recognition and encouragement during childhood. His message to youth in the field of photography is that “Without a photographer there would be no television, a television is the photo itself. A photographer is the primary journalist for a newspaper. Exclusive articles without photos are pointless. A newspaper without photographs is the same as a school without teachers.”
• Name and Surname: Ali Saif El Deen
• Place of birth: Al Labwe, Lebanon
• Date of birth: 1951
• Agency Employment: “Al Maw kef AL -Arabi” Nicosia “Al-Raei Al Ordoniya, Lebanon
“Al Rasd Al Loubneni”
“Nide Al Watan”