Mohamed Gabr is one of a kind. His love for sound and frustration with sound systems made him study electronics and open a business that produces speakers to his designs. His love for speed drove him from professional racing in the past to rallies all over the region in the present. But in Egypt he is best known for his groundbreaking photography.
Having both studied photography abroad and worked as a stock photographer, Gabr came back to Egypt in 1980 and did his first commercial shoot. His international standards and innovative approach set the benchmark for photography in the country. The rest is photographic history.
Underwater photography however, is new to Gabr: “I have done over 2000 dives in the past and got bored with it, I had not gone diving in 10 years when I was invited by HEPCA to join one of their Dolphin Research safaris.” The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association, HEPCA, is running a three year project dedicated to research of whales and dolphins in The Red Sea: The Red Sea Dolphin Project. The project will run until 2013 and involves diving safaris during 12 weeks each year.
The rules during the safaris are strict, not everyone is allowed to dive at the same time to reduce the amount of noise pollution under water. “The day I took this shot it was my turn to stay on the surface, so I was taking photos while skin-diving. The trick with dolphins is that you have to be quiet and let them come to you – if you try and follow them they leave. I used a fisheye, 200 degree lens for this shot – in reality they were only 50cm away from me.”
Branching out into a new form of photography has brought back a nearly forgotten enthusiasm: “I am having so much fun with diving again now I am taking photos. I spent a complete dive with two clownfish and their baby recently and the shots are amazing. I am excited about diving again, this past month I have spent 15 days under water!”
The image Gabr chose for our This is Egypt series features a group of spinner dolphins, three adults and a juvenile, and was taken at Sataya in the south of the Red Sea. “It was as if the dolphins were posing like it was a studio set-up,” Gabr told The Daily News Egypt, “It was a once in a lifetime shot.”