Pilgrimage at Lalibela

In Images, Travel, Within The Frame Adventures by David22 Comments


I’ve just posted a new portfolio and thought I’d invite you to take a look. My first trip to Ethiopia was in 2006, a month-long road trip that blew my mind, and no place more so than Lalibela. I’ve returned to Ethiopia 6 times now, and to Lalibela three times, and each time it completely captured my imagination. What other places can you go to on this planet with such history, and still so living and active? It’s changing, of course, everything does; in 2006 there weren’t the large UNESCO shelters built to preserve the rock-hewn churches. You see those right away and for me they’re a sad reality. The omnipresence of mobile phones blew me away this year. Some of the pilgrims walked for weeks or months to get there, other piled on buses from the other side of the country, and others still flew up from Addis, took a lot of iPhone selfies, and flew home. Strange. But even in all the change, the place retains a holiness about it, an otherness about it, if you’re willing to sit still with an open heart and open eyes – and I long to go back to. You can see that expanded portfolio if you follow this link. I hope you see in these images some of the mystery and beauty I see there.

If you’ve always wanted to go, Jeffrey Chapman, my friend and partner in crime on two of these journeys, is taking a group back next January, and you can get more information here. Don’t wait long, this is one of those places you want to go to before it gets forever changed by market forces and tourist dollars. I won’t be there – I’ll be in Hokkaido freezing my arse off while you guys are drinking some of the best coffee of your lives in a place that feels 2000 years back in time. But if you want to go, get on it, this year’s trip sold out quickly.

Take me to the Pilgrimage At Lalibela portfolio.

PS – Many of you know I was in surgery yesterday. They pulled some hardware out and fused one of the ankle joints. The surgery went well and I’m now home and grateful for the emails and comments, etc. Thank you too for the prayers and good wishes and healing mojo – all very much appreciated. With any luck this will be the last of it for a while to come.


  1. Love the images which give such a personal insight into life in Lalibela. I know I should pay more attention to building individual bodies of work, so this give me inspiration for which I thank you. Good to hear that the surgery went well, it’s been a long journey.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Roger. Always nice to see your name, and kind words, in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. David, the landscape photography you lately seemed to have a emphasis on is great. But I often missed the … human element, as I got to love it from much of your earlier work.
    Now it’s back! And maybe better than ever. Maybe even benefitting from your journey into landscapes?

    This definitely is a beautiful, masterful portfolio and your image selection is remarkable. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into such an outstanding piece of the world.

    If a photographer’s highest goal is to show what they saw and let us feel what they felt – then 100% score for you. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Thomas – It’s true, I’ve done more work in solitary places recently. It was good to be back with people. I love both and can’t wait to be doing more of the cultural work again, but I suspect it’ll be mostly landscapes and wilder places without humans for a while. Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts.

  3. My best wishes for a speed recovery. My wife just had back surgery and I know it takes a while to recover. Be patient and enjoy the down time. Be well, Gary

  4. A great portfolio of images that kept my attention – wanting to ask questions about their story – and looking forward to the next image – even with the distracting slow load times between each frame.

  5. I’ve been a lurker for years and thought it time to extend my gratitude. Your work is just so beautiful, demonstrating your mastery of contrasts in light, color, and theme. Truly, your photographs inspire me.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m so grateful for you, your thoughts (and humor), your work, Craft & Vision, and the CreateLIVE course you did awhile back.

    Wishing you all the best!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Liz. And thanks too for coming out of Lurk mode and into the light. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Really beautiful images, David. The third one in, the man sitting under the tree with the sunburst, breathtaking!

    I wish you a very speedy recovery, and subsequent good health from now on. Just leave the ax at home and stay away from cliffs! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Hey David,

    Just waiting for a flight to Venice to hook up with your partner in crime ;).., won’t be the same without you there!!

    Carrying about 10 lbs of 4×5 film to use with the speed graflex/ kodak aero ektar.. Didn’t get the travel light memo …

    You continue to inspire those of is who love this art form. Get well soon my friend!!

    1. Author

      Have a great time in Venice, Craig. I’m jealous. Give J a hug for me and have a glass of chamomille grappa at Osteria da Carla for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I love your work so much. In your portfolio above, I like the image with the man sitting on a blanket the best. I like how the people are an element of the landscape. For some reason, in this portfolio, the number of images that featured sun and rays put me in mind of JJ Abrams and his first Star Trek movie- he used light flares as part of the storytelling. My husband is in his second month of recovery from surgery so I can offer you this: patience will help your healing journey.

    1. Author

      Linda – Thank you. You aren’t the only one to remind me to be patient. That’s the hardest part. I’m sure my body will heal, I’m just worried I’ll lose my mind in the process! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi David,

    I’m another lurker.. I don’t know where to begin.. Actually, for now I won’t. I’d stick to this post and the portfolio! I felt every single photo that you selected for this! I’ve been following your work(and stalking) for a while and read all that you’ve mentioned about capturing the moment and having elements with visual mass when capturing to make for a stronger photo. I believe this is a true representation of that! You also referred to yourself as being an amateur because you’re always learning and growing and truly passionate(like an amateur) and it’s evident in your work. Except of course, your 20 odd years of making photos is a benefit haha!

    Take care for now and keep on strengthening your Vision!

  10. I have been trying to find an update on your current situation. I have a similar injury and they are talking about ankle fusion eventually too. So I know a little of what you have been through. I hope this is the end of it for you. Best wishes.

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      Hi Jackie – I’m now almost 4 weeks post-op. They did not fuse the ankle but one of the other two joints down there. They took a piece of my hip to do this, so it’s a little tender right now. But otherwise they seem to think I’m on track. In 3 weeks I do x-rays and we’ll know more then. Until then it’s no weight-bearing, sit around and read some books. ๐Ÿ™‚ Best of luck!

      1. I will look forward to an update. Maybe you can be more specific as to what bones were involved in the fuse. I think the goal will to be as mobile and pain free as possible. Ankle injuries. as I found out can be very involved. Sending you good wishes.

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