Mark Gillett

Come back frequently……

DSLR Photography Ban in Kuwait….

with 3 comments

I first heard about this ban through the usual channels….  An email with a link. Then another, and another. Then a few with a rant attached and so on….

I have been a photographer for 25 years part as an enthusiast and part as a professional. I recently started travelling to Kuwait to give workshops and was so pleasantly surprised by the freedoms I felt compare to those at home in Europe. I blogged about them here……

I am also now producing a book for 50/20.

I still believe what I wrote but just feel that the world we live gets crazier by the day. I tried to work out the reasoning behind the ban. Could it be security? No of course not. If I were a bomber planning an attack I certainly would not walk around with a DLSR, I would use my iPhone to take pictures surreptitiously. Could it be invasion of privacy? Again, no, otherwise all cameras would be banned, surely? I thought about the courses I give in Kuwait and how when we are in a public area the people we ask are only too pleased to oblige and those who are not say so. They are given choice which is what freedom is all about.. I suppose we could sneak around with a small camera and photograph people without them knowing but this to me would be kind of sly. A bit like and Japanese man I once saw on a beach in Dubai walking along photographing women with his camera hidden!

So I return to the reasoning behind this seemingly ridiculous decision taken by 3 ministries in Kuwait. It also makes me want to write a plea to them. To consider their actions.

Right now, Kuwait is a free country with a population that has endured the struggles of occupation with the threat of losing its freedom only 20 years ago. This affects a nation to the core. It hurts and leaves scars. Kuwait was liberated with the assistance of the allied forces to continue its existence as a free state. But it was its people who stayed and gave their lives, fought and endured untold suffering. Kuwaits freedom is unique. It relies heavily on personal, religious and family morals  and values not dictated by law. This ability to self discipline is so unique in our world today that Kuwait should be proud to stand out and not introduce ridiculous laws that constrict and create unease…..

Secondly, photography is a medium that allows people the ability to be creative. The ability to add creativity to their lives and take part in life rather than watch it go by.

Some of my work in Kuwait is with a young company called Aymstrong who do exactly this. Its owner, Yousef Al Qanai, use to be obese as a teenager. Very obese. He decided to change. He got fit. He loved photography. He loved doing more than watching TV and eating pizza or burgers. He started to value the life he had been given and he started to be creative in his thinking.

Yousef’s company now helps others who have the same problems by offering weight loss programmes, fitness advice, running days, gym consultations and nutrition assistance. He does this by calling in experts to help others lead better and healthier lives. My role is to use photography and the philosophies I use in my work to help people not only become better photographers but to see the crossovers with normal life and be more creative in their thinking and problem solving. I give courses that integrate photography and coaching and bring together the very elements that open ones mind to vast possibilities.

Creativity is the most important part of being free. Of living in a free world and if our creativity is smothered then our freedoms will slowly erode away. Our free thinking will be limited and as a society we will regress not progress.

I can only urge those who made this decision to re think it. Think about what might really help your nation not hold it back. Perhaps legislation on what food products are sold and how much junk food is allowed. How to introduce sport into schools, build better science facilities in the universities, encourage creativity in all forms. It is the creative minds that will be Kuwaitis problem solving minds of the future, so, please not to ban photography which is so accessible and a real means for people to develop their imaginative thinking.

Above are a few images from my last course, Ey for Life II. I will be back in Kuwait in Early December giving a course for the Kuwait Science Club and again in January for Aymstrong.

I hope by this time we are allowed to venture out into the public domain to be creative again. I certainly will whatever the risk.

Written by markgillett

November 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Photography, Travel

3 Responses

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  1. Mark, the strange thing is that if you see all the stories on the web, they all point to a single source. An article written in “Kuwait Times”. Kuwait Times in neither the most reliable newspaper nor the main newspaper in Kuwait.
    How come none of the main dailies have reported this? Most of us are now doubting whether this is real of some mis-reported article.


    November 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm

  2. I thought that might be the case but it gave me somethng to blog about too… I feel strongly about my profession….


    November 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm

  3. Manor

    November 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm

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