Ede photo books set new standards in search of Malta’s photographic identity

Ede photo books Series Two. Photo by Jacob Sammut

On Friday, 19th February Ede Books launched the 2nd series of the photography books by both, local and international photography enthusiasts (I avoid using term ‘professionals’ intentionally, more about the reasons for it below). Apart from introducing a few great images from a variety of categories – from travel photography to urban and abstract – and attracting a broad spectrum of audience, Ede photo books’ events signified a cultural shift in Malta’s photographic scene. The outcome of these series certainly is a milestone, a breakthrough in a collective effort in search of a new photographic identity. A fair number of the photographs displayed at the launch signify the end of the era dominated by overly edited images of a rather poor aesthetic quality, locally marketed as ‘professional photography’.

Some of the photographs were greatly influenced by the Workshop f/1.4, a monochrome film photography course opened two years earlier. By demonstrating the fundamental concepts and the magic of analogue photography, the workshop led by David Pisani and Zvezdan Reljic enriched photographic vision of many enthusiasts in Malta. The tutors’ passion for photography as an integral process was inspiring to many and bore great results.

The book launch event was symbolic in many ways – it brought out the emerging eager for true photography as well as a few aspects which clearly undermined the persisting public misunderstanding of the very idea of photography. A number of times I was approached with the same question which, to my surprise, was addressed by seemingly culturally aware people. The question (or, to be precise, a remark) was ‘I didn’t know you were a photographer’. What makes one a photographer? Is it having a website with a collection of images, a self-description, a Facebook page or perhaps a tacky practice of watermarking pictures? Or perhaps just owning a camera does the trick? Sadly, flashing an expensive camera and a few lenses seems to be enough for many to call themselves ‘photographers’.

Whereas there are various definitions of ‘photographer’, a description of someone fascinated with imagery who also thoroughly enjoys depicting it, is the one I side most with. The aesthetic value of a truly good picture is always greater than the object/event it portrays. While paying respect to the nature of the object/event, a photographer contributes his/her vision to the image and that is why the visual interpretation of the captured moment cannot be translated into words. An image that can easily be described with no loss of unique imagery is not a good photograph.

The event also pointed at a few other particularities of Malta’s local photography scene. Surprisingly, a number of the authors took the publication as a chance to praise their personal achievements of all sorts. It was abhorrent to discover the extensive lack of humility and self-irony that some of the authors revealed by literally dedicating chapters to themselves on the back page of their book. Manipulating public opinion by explaining why your own photographs need to be appreciated or, even worse, praising yourself for being a great photographer, is a foul approach that needs no further comment.

As Milan Kundera wrote, “if a novel is successful, it must necessarily be wiser than its author”. The same is true about a great photograph. It speaks for itself better than an extensive description of its qualities. Ede photo books present a variety of such images. The greatest outcome of the whole initiative was in encouraging individuals, passionate about photography, whose work until recent had been overshadowed by individuals passionate about digital editing.

Should you be interested in purchasing a copy of a specific photography book or a whole set of books please contact edebooks.eu.

P.S. I sincerely hope the article does not offend anyone since it was never meant to be an offense. I believe certain aspects need to be articulated even if they reveal an unpleasant side. As part of a group effort, I perhaps should have abstained from commenting on those aspects publicly but, alas, I did not manage. 

Untitled photograph from ‘Grif’, a book by Kenneth Borg
Charles Balzan
“Stephansdom” by Charles Balzan. His book ‘Not Alone’ promises to be of the most influential photography books launched so far
“Elsa” by Nigel Baldacchino (book “Still life/Guest”)
Valletta City Gate by Martin Galea de Giovanni

2012 in pictures. Part 1

2012 was an awesome year for me. Besides a number of interesting activities, it brought many photographic opportunities. The results of these opportunities are shared on this page,  I would call it a summary of my photographic activity.


Testing my new Canon lens in Mdina.
1st January 2012. Mdina.

1st January 2012. Mdina. Malta
1st January 2012. Mdina. Malta


Carnival in Valletta (19th February 2012)

Carnival in Valletta (19th February 2012)
Carnival in Valletta (19th February 2012)


Perfect storm
Stormy weather on 10th March 2012 in Valletta, Malta.

Stormy weather on 10th March 2012, in Valletta, Malta
Stormy weather on 10th March 2012, in Valletta, Malta

Ragusa Ibla
In March I travelled to Ragusa, Sicily, where this photo was snapped.

Architecture of Ragusa Ibla (the old, historic part of the Sicilian town Ragusa) is truly magnificent

Architecture of Ragusa Ibla (the old, historic part of the Sicilian town Ragusa) is truly magnificent


Cannabis March
The march supporting legalization of cannabis was organized by movement Graffiti and held in Valletta on 5th May 2012.

Cannabis March held in Valletta, Malta on 5th May 2012
Cannabis March held in Valletta, Malta on 5th May 2012


First day of June. Filfla.

First day of June. Filfla
First day of June. Filfla

Steve McCurry Meet and Greet Session

Maltese public had a splendid opportunity to meet one of the world’s most renowned photographers, Steve McCurry, on 19th June at Malta Conference Centre.

If you are not familiar with Steve McCurry’s works, then (shame on you!) have a look at his blog http://stevemccurry.wordpress.com/, it is a must-do!

Steve McCurry Meet and Greet Session on 19th June, Valletta, Malta

Steve McCurry Meet and Greet Session on 19th June, Valletta, Malta



March against institutional racism

The silent protest against institutional racism was held on 11th July. Protesters tried to attract public attention to the murder of two immigrants, Mamadou Kamara and Ifeanyi Nwokoye, at the detention centre.

The silent protest against institutional racism was held on 11th July. Protesters tried to attract public attention to the murder of two immigrants, Mamadou Kamara and Ifeanyi Nwokoye, at the detention centre.
The young protestor


Odyssey: impressions from Meet and Greet session with Steve McCurry and his exhibition

Silent dialogue at the exhibition

On Tuesday, 19th June I was lucky to attend Meet and Greet session with Steve McCurry, one of the greatest photographers of modern era. It was hard to believe this humble person, sitting in front of the audience, was the author of the world’s most recognizable portray – the portrait of Afghan girl. There was so much in him – peace, sincerity, openness. And not even a hint of pride or superiority. Seeing a person whose eyes had seen so much, I suddenly felt connected to all the countries and events he photographed. I had such a desire to hug him and shake his hand.

When he kindly and patiently was signing prints for everybody I noticed he was left-handed with his right hand not fully functional. Can imagine what a challenge it must have been to take photos for a person with a limited hand functionality. Nevertheless, faces and scenes captured by his camera became immortal. Those are works of a real master.

The audience was quite mixed – glamorous girls and guys, Maltese elite that took a chance to present their designer’s outfits and tan, professional photographers and other interested in photography people. One thought got firmly stuck to my minds: what does the portrait of Afghan girl mean to the glamorous elite? A famous picture with the author’s signature to be hang on the wall? An image of the horrible life they had no idea about?

The event received strong publicity: newspapers along with bloggers complemented to McCurry’s incredible talent, describing his most famous works and explaining why the photos are so wonderful. Strange enough, both, bloggers and newspapers, mentioned same photos. Oh yes, I understand, photos of the Afghan girl and the Peruvian boy became iconic, they deserve fame, but still, there are so many more far less known photos of Steve McCurry that have so much life in them, such a story to tell. Amusing but true – photographs have a destiny too, some are luckier than others, some have won their ticket to eternity, others might be forgotten and rediscovered as paintings of Vermeer years after.

My feeling about the exhibition was pretty similar – great iconic images known for years. I wish there would have been a greater number of McCurry’s less famous photos. Unlike a painting, a photograph does not reveal more when presented at the exhibition, there is no “master’s hand touch” feeling, no brush strokes, in other words, no secret details that are only visible on the original. That is why, in my opinion, the exhibition should have presented not only photos with the name to public.

Ahmadi Oil Fields, Kuwait

My favourite photo from the exhibited was the one of camels on the background of burning Kuwait oil. Such a piercing image! I think I know why McCurry’s photos penetrate so deep – beauty in them is inseparable from suffers and horror to such an extent that it is hard to discern what exactly is so hypnotizing about them – the horror of reality or the beauty of colours and composition. Photos of joy were there as well – beautiful, peaceful, inspiring.

My biggest question after the exhibition was about the Afghan girl. Her image has become iconic, no doubt, it will live longer than the model and will continue excite living ones with its mysteries. Despite miserable life, she was luckier than any beautiful girl from a rich family that saw wars on TV only. We are immortal as long as we live in minds of others. And that girl certainly got it, wonder if she realizes it herself.