Postcards from Lalibela

In Postcards From... by David10 Comments

I first went to Lalibela, Ethiopia, in January, 2006, arriving with some hundred-thousand pilgrims to a scene straight out of a biblical movie. Over ten years later, and having just finished my fourth time photographing this Christmas pilgrimage, the magic hasn’t waned a bit. Crowded with people in white robes, these ancient rock-hewn churches are a swirl of motion and humanity, every corner filled with pilgrims reading scriptures, lepers begging for alms, and colourful priests and deacons doling out blessings for a coin. There are drums and dancing, candle-lit services, long dark tunnels, heady incense, and so much mystery. It’s an overwhelming place and a visual wonder. Each time I’ve returned I’ve thought it was my last trip but this place seems to have gotten under my skin and keeps calling me back.

If you’re a Contact Sheet subscriber you’ll be getting an email from me any moment with a longer first glimpse of my photographs from this trip. But here are a few of my favourites for now. If you’re not a Contact Sheet subscriber you can get my PILGRIM Monograph and subscribe at the same time here. I send my Contact Sheet out a couple times a month when I have something to say, or new work to show. By subscribing you let me send you articles about the art and craft of photography, new opportunities to learn, and first glimpses of my new work, most often in a beautiful PDF you can download to enjoy offline.

I’m in Nairobi now, waiting for the first of two safaris to begin and gorging on mangoes. In a couple more days I’ll be back on the Maasai Mara with great people, beautiful light, and some of the most majestic creatures on the planet. I’ll be in touch the moment I’m back with another postcard or two. I hope you’re having a great start to 2018. In the meantime, enjoy these photographs from Lalibela.


  1. Amazing work David it’s almost as if you are hidden in plain sight but wearing your cloaking best – no one seems to know your there and you capture he essence as if your just another pilgrim in the mix of the action – an amazing opportunity to see ancient timeless tradition and culture in today’s often too modern world!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you David, as always, your work touches my heart and draws me in – inspiring

  3. Great imagery David.
    With the help of your courses I can see what you are trying to achieve and are achieving.

  4. Wow David! These are amazing and powerful images that showcase what you are able to communicate via light, shadow and motion. Thank you for truly inspiring work.

  5. These are very powerful images, David, as are the many more on the Contact Sheet monograph. What makes them so strong, for me, is not simply the obvious craft: strong composition, stunning lighting, deliberate slowed speed), but the immediacy of them. You have us right in there, in the midst of it all, with the scene wrapping around us. No apart, mere observing.

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