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And now for the Back Story on …
Our Ramadan photo collection
Over the weekend, The Times published portraits of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around the world, which has proved popular with readers. We asked one of the photo editors, Craig Allen, to explain how it came about.
Our international photo desk has editors in three hubs across the world. Last week, the editors most responsible for assigning photography in these regions — Gaia Tripoli in London, me in New York and Mikko Takkunen in Hong Kong — were thinking about ways to show readers what the beginning of Ramadan would look like this year, as the coronavirus crisis continues to transform the way people live.
A couple of weeks ago, we had put together a photo-led piece on Good Friday, with pictures from our photographers at the Vatican and in a number of the countries with strong communities of the world’s estimated 1.3 billion Catholics. Ramadan is observed by some 1.8 billion Muslims across the world, and we were ready for a more ambitious approach. We assigned 21 photographers in 21 cities to document the start of this most unusual Ramadan.
Dan Balilty’s striking photograph of a man praying on a rooftop in Jerusalem during a sandstorm — with the Dome of the Rock in the background — led the essay. We got an intimate look into people’s homes as they celebrated the start of the holy month in Johannesburg, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur. We saw grand mosques, empty or nearly so, in Brooklyn, New Delhi, Sarajevo, Paris, Dearborn and Bangkok. And we showed people distributing food for iftar in Myanmar, Indonesia and Egypt.
We aimed for geographic, cultural and aesthetic diversity, asking photographers to document what they found in their own communities, from an intimate iftar supper in Jeddah to a solitary prayer on a lake in Kashmir.
If you’re celebrating, Happy Ramadan.
That’s it for this briefing. Enjoy the opera at home and see you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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• The New York Times publishes websites in English, Spanish and Chinese, and translates many articles into other languages, like this recent dispatch from Paris.