Mustafa Jamal Al Deen


During youth Mustafa Jamal Al Deen was passionately drawn to photography. He diligently studied the photographs in Al Safir newspaper daily. Eventually he was introduced to two photographers who became his mentors, Michel Berzghal and Nabih Nasar, both notable and highly regarded Lebanese photographers. The two masters of photography taught him basic photographic skills and guided him on his path to choosing a career in photojournalism.

 As a young boy Mustafa Jamal Al Deen was attracted to adventure, exploration and danger, a trait that has followed him into adulthood and served him well as a photojournalist. As a photographer he has encountered many formidable and dangerous situations. He describes the most life-threatening day of his career as being in 1990 during the Parliament Elections. Mustafa and his colleagues were traveling south to photograph. Upon entering Maabar Ferd Al Nabid in Nabatiyeh they were confronted with a group of irate people on a street corner violently yelling and verbally attacking the group. He was unaware that they were Israelis. When they started shooting he understood the severity of the situation and barely escaped with his life.

  As a photojournalist he faces daily risks during terror campaigns, yet he doesn’t let the bullets deter him from photographing. The concerns of his family for his welfare do not influence his choice of assignments. He states, “A photographer cannot perform his job and stay at home. The camera is how I converse with the world. A photographer without a camera is like a soldier without a weapon.”

 Mustafa Jamal Al Deen prioritizes photographing over assisting an injured person, stating “I have to concentrate on my work. I cannot pass up the ‘perfect’ picture in lieu of helping injured people. When it is possible to photograph and help others I do both.”

  His ultimate goal is to leave a trace of Lebanon ’s history for future generations in his photographs. His hope is that Lebanese politicians and leaders will permit photographers the freedom to photograph. His intent is to deliver photographic messages that disclose the undisclosed realities in Lebanon . He states, “Photojournalism feeds my body and photography feeds my soul”.

•           Name and Surname:                 Mustafa Jamal Al Deen

•           Place of birth:                           Baalbek,Lebanon

•           Date of birth:                            1968

•           Agency of Employment:        “Al Safir” newspaper, ?, ?

•           Length of Career:                      1986 to Present

Bilal Jawich


 Prior to 2004 Bilal Jawich was employed by Cultural Agenda Magazine for nine years. During this time he became increasingly dissatisfied with the surface quality of an entertainment magazine. In 1999 he traveled to Italy with a photography tour group. This trip served as the catalyst that cemented his resolve to become a photojournalism.. In 2003 he studied photography at the Russian Cultural Center . It was at this time that his hobby of photography transformed into his profession. 

  Bilal Jawich believes that “Photographs unlock the door that leads to culture and knowledge. Photography can be likened to a cinema. People are continually influenced by photographs whether they are aware of it or not.” Bilal perceives photojournalism as the key that opens doors to contact with eminent politicians and prominent colleagues that would otherwise be locked.

  Bilal Jawich refrains from interjecting his beliefs in his photographs, rather, he exposes the subject for what it is. He shoots photos of anything that grabs his attention with the foreknowledge that many of his photos may not be published. He asserts that “The power of a photograph resides in the eye of the photographer, not the camera. A photographer’s weapon is the camera, just as a journalist’s weapon is a pen. An outstanding photograph attracts attention regardless of the content, be it nature, war or daily activities. A successful photo accurately delivers the emotions housed within the subject matter. A powerful photo must speak for itself. He states “I photograph for a purpose, to deliver a message to the world”.

 While photographing during times of war his priority is to help a person who needs assistance before photographing. However, if a supporter comes along to aid the victim he continues shooting photographs. He acknowledges that he too may need aid some day, saying “An injured person does not care who is helping, what is needed and wanted is help.” He experienced two events involving military conflicts, one of which was in Nahr el Bard on May 7, 2006. He considers the May 7 conflict more dangerous and risky than the July 2006 war. During the May 7th war he was targeted by snipers and barely escaped during a volatile situation.

  Bilal claims that “Many Lebanese politicians and leaders mistakenly believe that photographers are spies or intelligence agents working for political factions. Due to this false perception photographers are viewed as the enemy”. Bilal has no qualms about photographing politicians engaged in unlawful acts. He claims that “Photographers are deeply enmeshed in the psychologically and physical traumas of war. Agencies do not force or obligate photographers to risk their lives, this decision is made by each photographer. The acts of war are a vital component of my photography. Documenting these acts can hurt the enemy more than bombings”.

 His family does not influence his decision as to whether or not he will take a risky assignment, the decision ultimately rests with him. He says, “If I allow others to determine my actions it would be impossible to continue in this career.”

  Bilal Jawich’s message for the Lebanese people is that “The world of photography covers a broad range, and by so doing, encourages dialogue for expanded discussions and debates. Most Lebanese are unaware that photographers help society by exposing problems to the world. Many consider photographers as suspect and perceive them as the enemy. This false assumption infringes on the photographer’s liberty and ability to follow through with assignments. The general population expresses more interest in the name of the agency the photographer works for, in order to categorize them politically, than in supporting their efforts to photograph. The blame for the publics distrust lies with the broadcasting system which manipulates some photos for the purpose of political gain. Hence, the extreme dislike of photographers and misunderstanding of the important role they play in society”.

•           Name and Surname:                   Bilal Jawich

•           Place of birth:                             Beirut , Lebanon

•           Date of birth:                              1970   

•           Agency Employment:   “La Revue Du Liban” weekly newspaper, ??

                                                   “Al Akhbar” newspaper. Formerly “Monday Morning”??

•           Length of Career:                      Since 2004.

By Sevana Semerdjian

Fadi Abou Galioum

Fadi Abou Galioum graduated from Lebanese American University , formerly Beirut University College, with a major in Audio Visual and major in Photography. Since then he has conducted photography workshops at the Russian Cultural Center . Originally he pursued photography as a hobby. It wasn’t until his photographs were published in the Daily Star and the chief editor of the newspaper, Muhammad Azakir, provided him with a retainer that Fadi began pursuing photography as a full time profession.

 Fadi attests that July 13th 2006 was, thus far, the most dangerous day of his career. He describes the day as follows, “At precisely 3:40 in the morning Israeli bombs exploded one hundred meters in front of me on the bridge leading to the airport. The intense sound of the explosions caused hearing loss that resulted in complete deafness for two hours. It was on this day that I witnessed a fatality.”


He believes that an ideal photograph should speak unaccompanied by captions, subsisting exclusively on its own. Fadi considers his camera as vital as oxygen, “It’s as essential as breathing. I never leave home without my camera. I shoot photos of every aspect of life.”


On numerous occasions Fadi had to choose between helping victims and taking photographs. Thus far his priority has been to photograph, stating “A photo can capture sensations and feelings that disclose the ills of society, and in so doing, triumph over the perpetrators by exposing man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.”


Fadi Abou Galioum assumes that photographers differ in their attitudes and approaches. Unlike many photographers he interjects his personal bias into his photographs. Fadi describes photographs as being analogous to food, each retaining a unique flavor. He infuses his photographs with his consciousness with the intent of causing specific responses. He contends that, “Situations are temporary. Photographs are factual records that are passed from one generation to the next. Photographs insure the historic preservation of events.”


Fadi Abou Galioum states that the political unsteadiness in Lebanon has adversely affected his career. He states that “Politicians are oblivious to the fact that a photographer does not reflect the face of an agency. Political leaders categorize photographers according to the agency that employs them. The truth is that photographers transmit messages and news through photographs and are not associated with political parties.”

He claims that in Lebanon photographers are not valued and are deprived of their civil rights. He asserts that “It is commonplace in Lebanon for photographers to be chased, threatened and beaten; whereas, in Europe photojournalists are protected and considered more valuable than the president.” His hopes are that the government will realize the value of photography and respect and protect photographers.


Fadi is unmarried and lives with his parents in Mazraat zone. During incidents of war his mother locked the door, in hopes that her son wouldn’t risk his life ‘by walking off to the battle field.’ To circumvent the locked door Fadi chose a more dangerous escape route, the balcony. Finally accepting that her son was determined to overcome all obstacles in his path, Fadi’s mother changed her tactics. She now unlocks the door and blesses him with ‘God be with you’ when he leaves.

            His message to Lebanese youth is that “Photography is a spectacular career; it involves adventure and risky situations. A photograph grabs peoples’ attention by telling a story. A photographic image eventually becomes a historical memory. Human beings are born, live and pass away, but a photo never expires. Its existence conjures up memories, be they joyful, sorrowful or dreadful.”

•           Name and Surname:                   Fadi Abou Galioum

•           Place of birth:                             Beirut , Lebanon

•           Date of birth:                              September 14, 1974

•           Agency Employment                “Daily Star” newspaper

•           Length of Career:                       Since 1996.

Isam Kobaysey

Prior to Isam Kobaysey’s employment with El-Intikad magazine he was a photographer for Reuters and conducted numerous workshops at the Russian Cultural Center . For a number of years his teaching endeavors have included private classes for Iranian teachers. Isam was honored by Manar Television with two awards and is a long standing member of the Syndicate of Journalists.

During his adolescence his home was located in close proximity to a photography studio.  When passing the studio he speculated on the mysteries within and the magical powers of the camera. The association of the camera with magic inspired and propelled him to procure his first photojournalist position with Intikad magazine.

In 1984 Isam began investigating the technical parameters of photography.  He spent endless hours researching the photographic process and subjecting his photographs to trials and tests to further his technical skills. During this time he ignored the conceptual aspects of his photographs, yet in spite of this, his work was in great demand and his career flourished. In 1996, after twelve years of developing his technical acumen, he began concentrating on conceptual development. He states, “I came to a point where I was determined to use photography to reveal the truth about Lebanon ’s history. My objective is to imprint traces of this truth on the viewer’s mind. A photographer immortalizes momentous occasions, be they conflicts, gatherings of all kinds, theatre, weddings, or nature. Nothing is more astonishing and amazing than nature. It is paramount to preserve the exquisite beauty of Lebanon in photographs. Photographs, live eternal.”

Isam Kobaysey believes that all social conflicts and wars subject photojournalists to perilous situations. In his experience the July 2006 war and the Anakid el Ghadab war in 1993, between the Israelis and the resistance, were the most personally life threatening. He explains by saying, “The hazards faced by civilians on the streets during interior wars outweigh risks encountered on the battlefield. It is extremely dangerous for photojournalists during inner wars. On May 7th 2008 I found it impossible to identify my physical location due to mass hysteria and fear. It was commonplace for photographers to be beaten.”

Isam Kobaysey believes that, “Photography is not merely clicking a button on a camera. Photography is the process of developing and exposing significant events. The camera captures what my eye observes. During incidents of war I must be cautious and alert at all times. Photography is my profession. Just as those in other professions must perform their jobs, I must perform my job. My family acknowledges and accepts the perils that come with my work. They respect my position and do not interfere.” He places photography second to assisting someone in peril. However, if others are present to aid victims he commences photographing. In his opinion a profound photo documenting acts of war should capture the powerlessness of innocent civilians, the cornerstone being children and women.

The political unsteadiness In Lebanon effects Isam Kobaysey’s freedom to photograph. He states, “Political leaders inaccurately assume that photojournalists represent political parties; consequently they treat them harshly and cruelly. Photographers are discouraged from photographing certain leaders and politicians. This restriction increases the photographer’s curiosity and awakens the desire to photograph more. Photojournalists crave respect from politicians, in hopes that it will further their career. Oftentimes they are invited to delightful formal ceremonies as guests, only to be publicly insulted and humiliated. An invitation to a coveted celebrated event turns into a personally devastating calamity.”

Isam Kobaysey summarizes his commitment to photography by stating, “Without a photographer every significant message fades away.”

•           Name and Surname:                   Isam Kobaysey

•           Place of birth:                             Zebdin, Nabatiye , Lebanon

•           Date of birth:                              January 11, 1962

•           Agency of Employment:       El-Intikad Magazine, Al-Dahye , Lebanon

•           Length of Career:                       Since 1984

By Sevana Semerdjian

Bilal Kabalan

As a child Bilal Kabalan was uncertain about his path in life. His only certainty was that he found pleasure holding a camera. He recalls an incident when he was eight years old involving his first camera. Ever since he could remember he wanted to win a camera from a glass case that housed a random selection of miniature toys.After many attempts and many unwanted toys, finally a small camera dropped out of the glass case. That evening his father took the camera out of Bilal’s hands and intentionally broke it. This unexpected and unpleasant experience did not discourage Bilal from wanting another camera, rather it cemented his desire to not only get another camera but to pursue photography as a career.

 During high school Bilal Kabalan studied Physics and was passionately drawn to the specialty of Optics. Day after day as his knowledge of Optics incrased, his love for it deepened. When he was introduced to photography as an adult he found that the similarities between Optics and photography created an easy familiarity between the two fields. Through independent investigation and the influence of two mentors, Rabih el Meghribi and Michel Berzghal, he conscientiously and consistently furthered his career. Being of an inquisitive nature, he never refrained from questioning his mentors in spite of his tendency to be shy and introverted.


Bilal Kabalan is presently a member of the Syndicate of Journalists. He is an adventurous photojournalist, always pushing the edge in pursuit of the perfect photograph. He views every moment of his career as being dangerous. During the civil war between East and West Beirut he was beaten and kidnapped while photographing in his own zone. He recalls a specific incidence in 1978 during the civil war when he and Muhammad Ballout, a fellow photographer, were in Shkif. Bilal had a special fondness for Shkif and made a point of visiting it once a week throughout the years. He felt that it was imperative to observe what was happening in Shkif during the war. He states, “Even during times of peace there is a risk involved in going to Shkif. On this particular day we were shot at and bombs were thrown at us. Rather than fearing for our lives we literally laughed in the face of death and playfully and happily dodged the bullets and fled. Acting like fools, we were incapable of internalizing the gravity of the situation. Based on my experience, I believe it is possible for a photojournalist to lose the ability to internalize information and react appropriately when faced with a life threatening situation.”


Bilal describes his reaction to an encounter with death when he and another colleague went to the region of Zarif to photograph. While in Zarif he saw the bodies of numerous dead people littering the ground. After walking for awhile he noticed one of the bodies holding a camera. Upon closer investigation he realized that the body was his colleague. Bilal took two photographs of his colleague and then proceeded to lend a helping hand, which proved to be of no avail. Bilal went through the motions with no conscious awareness of his actions. Another situation involved stepping on the bodies of the dead while hurrying to take photographs.

 Bilal Kabalan asserts that there is no pat answer for whether or not assisting someone in danger takes precedence over taking a photograph. He believes the situation is the determining factor. Fear and terror are his predominant emotions before arrival at the battlefield. Upon arrival all indecision and fear fades away. He claims that “If I even consider retreating from the battlefield and going back home I am convinced that the consequence will be that I will die. I also believe that there are no coincidences. Photographers need to be fully involved in the situation, which means they can’t afford to have even a single thought about ending up a victim.”

 Bilal correlates his relationship to his camera with that of a woman, “Sometimes I struggle and fight with my camera because it doesn’t deliver a photograph that meets my expectations. My camera is a human being incarnate, sometimes communicating articulately and at other times not. My camera’s sole job is to meet my standards and expectations. It is advantageous for a photographer to remain single. Oftentimes a wife obstructs her husband’s path to dangerous zones. The camera is my better half, and as such accompanies me where ever I go. Love and hatred are a part of life. I view my life as being filled with love and pleasure.


He holds great admiration for the photographer George Semerdjian. Bilal believes Semerdjian’s photographs provided the foundation for future photojournalists.

In Bilal’s opinion, an excellent and ‘complete’ photograph should emphasize the conceptual aspect of the subject matter rather than simply illustrate shallow and banal beauty. He states, “Every photographer has a unique slant on the subject matter, but personal opinions should not enter into the final product unless it is done intentionally.”  

  He perceives the photographer as “chasing the changing times” and providing “visual summarizations” of political and social events. He states, “A picture should generalize, not privatize. A photograph actualizes an event by providing a specific time frame and location. This is the reason photographs are more effective at communicating information than news commentators and written articles.”

 Bilal Kabalan’s message for youth is that, “Photographs should expose the significant aspects of an incident. Photographs should document the changes of every day life and uncover the hidden realities. A single photo should encapsulate an entire event. The value of a photo is directly related to people’s interaction with it. In Lebanon the increased financial value of photographs is directly related to the increasing need for the work of photojournalists.”

•           Name and Surname:                   Bilal Kabalan

•           Place of birth:                             Mays el Jabal, South Lebanon

•           Date of birth:                              March 2, 1960

•           Agency of Employment:           “Al Safir” newspaper

•           Length of Career:                        Since 1977

By Sevana Semerdjian