Photographers Roger and Pat de la Harpe capture biblical scenes in Lalibela
THE HOLY CITY OF LALIBELA IS FAMOUS FOR ITS ROCK-HEWN CHURCHES, BUILT DURING THE 12TH AND 13TH CENTURIES. PILGRIMAGES BY MEMBERS OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH BRING THESE MEDIEVAL PLACES TO COLOURFUL LIFE
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
For more than 25 years, Roger and Pat de la Harpe have specialised in travel, wildlife, conservation and lodge photography. They work mainly in Africa, although photography has taken them around the world and resulted in 27 coffee-table books and plenty of magazine features in local and foreign publications. The pair visited Ethiopia while working on the book African Icons (with writer David Bristow), detailing 21 must-see places on the continent.
HOW THEY GOT THE SHOTS
‘The various shoots we did for the book were fairly short – about eight or nine days each – and very intense,’ says Roger. ‘We’d fly in to one of the 22 destinations we covered a year, usually on a red-eye flight, and go straight to work. It was exhausting but we got to see extraordinary things, like the Christian ceremonies at Lalibela (named for King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela) in Ethiopia.’ These images were shot with a Nikon D800 and D7100, using a combination of 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses.
PREVIOUS PAGE Away from the quiet dignity of the cave, it was all colour and sound. Pilgrims sang, chanted and swayed, the mood being one of celebration. Close up, their colourful robes were exquisitely made; their umbrellas representing the heavens.
ABOVE The most famous of all Lalibela’s churches is Bete Giyorgis, or the Church of Saint George. It is a truly astounding construction, having been carved from the top down, with the rock removed to create various chambers.LEFT Female pilgrims danced and clapped, their dance involving a sort of rolling of the shoulders. We wondered if it didn’t allude to the flapping of angels’ wings?