GHOSTS OF THE PAST Focal Point newsletters issues 88 & 89

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GHOSTS OF THE PAST Focal Point newsletters issues 88 & 89: who was the first 'real' war photographer - by Kevin Casha


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2020 MAY | JUNE ISSUE 88 The Ofcial MIPP Newsleter Photography by - Ondre Camilleri Gaglione SPECIAL EDITION includes part 1 GHOSTS PAST FROM THE PAST Who was the frst known ‘REAL’ war photographer By Kevin Casha

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10 | The official MIPP Newsletter By Kevin Casha Who was the frst known ‘ REAL’ war photographer GHOSTS PAST t he from

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11 | The official MIPP Newsletter Good pictures. Tragedy and violence certainly make powerful images. It is what we get paid for. But there is a price extracted with every such frame: some of the emotion the vulnerability the empathy that makes us human is lost every time the shutter is released. Greg Marinovich The Bang Bang Club “ ”

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12 | The official MIPP Newsletter GHOSTS FROM THE PAST who was the frst known ‘real’ war photographer Society usually takes historical data as factual but at tmes this can be far away from the actual truth. Most historical accounts are recorded by persons who have a bias or who have not really researched in depth enough to unearth the hard facts. How about the ofen glaring misinformaton on Wikipedia as an example Where photography is concerned various controversies and claims abound. One aspect which has raised my curiosity is who was or were the frst war photographers. I think frstly we need to defne war photography before we delve deeper into the subject: “War photography is the pursuit of capturing images of armed combat and what life is really like during war and in war-torn countries. It is meant to portray the tragedy and triumph of war in all its aspects.” The world’s frst combat photographs were taken during the American-Mexican War of 1846-1847 by an anonymous photographer. These images were Daguerreotypes. Unfortunately nothing has yet been unearthed about this pioneer photographer so our research moves on to 1848. The frst name that is actually associated with the taking of early war zone photographs is rather not so well known. John McCosh 1805-1885 the son of a Scotsh surveyor was born in India. In 1831 he joined the Indian medical service afer completng his studies on medicine in Edinburgh. His grainy calotype photographs taken during the second Sikh war of 1848-1849 portray Sikh people and palaces of Lahore whilst those taken during the second Burmese War 1852–53 show military personnel captured guns architecture and Burmese people. His work counts as sufcient grounds some historians maintain to recognize him as another one of the frst war photographers known by name. McCosh was actually an enthusiastc amateur photographer and primarily took photos of Britsh ofcers but then gave other glimpses of the glory and tragedy of war. His images include many of the key fgures from the campaigns such as the batle-scarred Britsh commander General Sir Charles Napier and Mul Raj the sombre ruler of Multan. McCosh’s photographs seem not to have been very well produced or maintained and their quality leaves much to be desired furthermore they fail to really depict the real horrors of war.

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13 | The official MIPP Newsletter One of a set of images taken by an unknown photographer during the Mexican- American War depictng Webster’s Batalion of American troops riding into the city of Saltllo at Minon’s Pass in the mountains just North of Buena Vista Mexico c. 1847- 1848. These are the earliest known war photographs. Daguerreotype portrait of a soldier of the Virginia Volunteers during the Mexican-American War 1847. 1 1 2 2

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14 | The official MIPP Newsletter 14 A hauntng group photograph taken during the same Mexican-American war. A portrait of surgeon John McCosh who was also an amateur photographer. He was one of the earliest pioneers of war zone photography 3 3 4 4

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15 | The official MIPP Newsletter Our next photographer Stefano Lecchi is an Italian who actually has connectons with Malta. In 1804 Lecchi 1804 - c.1864 was born in a small urban setlement near Milan Italy and grew to become a minor painter and a bold pioneer of photography. Lecchi travelled quite extensively – to Paris to the south of France to Rome and to Naples - where he was commis- sioned by “King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies” to photograph the spectacular ruins of Pom- peii. He is considered a pioneer of war reportage and a collecton of his work produced in 1849 shows the devastaton of the struggle between the Papal and French forces on the one side and the supporters of the failed Roman Republic on the other. These images depictng a gen - eral air of desolaton consttute what is thought to be the very frst photographic documenta - ton in history of some of the devastaton of war. It is only recently that Giovanni Bonello has revealed that for a short period Lecchi was in Malta working with photography. The discovery came through a full-length portrait by Lecchi of Giuseppe Garibaldi discovered in the Palazzo Falson Archives. This dated photograph is marked as having been taken at the Imperial Hotel 1 in Valleta on the 24 th of March 1864. Lecchi is most likely to have practced photography in Malta between 1860 tll at least 1864 from his atelier at 141 Strait Street Valleta. 2 I tend to agree with researcher Giovanni Bonello’s theory that Lecchi had either a sudden stroke or Alzheimers’ which eventually prevented him from carrying on with his photographic work. The Italian Biblioteca Treccani puts his death around 1863 most probably in Rome but this recent discovery by Bonello clearly moves it at least tll afer 1864. 3 Lecchi’s work in Italy between 1849 and 1859 partcularly the photographs that document the Garibaldian defence of Rome in 1849 are viewed as a valuable record of the frst meaningfull photography coming from a war zone. The Garibaldian confict photographs by Lecchi date his war zone work to 1849 which evidently precedes Szathmary’s photographs of 1853 Fenton’s Crimean work of 1854 as well as Robertson and Beato’s 1855 ouevre in the same theatre. Another important name associated with war photography is not that of a Britsh French or American photographer but that of a Romanian of Hungarian origin Carl Baptste de Szathmary 1812-1887 took his camera to the Crimea a year before the more famous Roger Fenton arrived. In 1853 Szathmary was already documentng the confict between Russia and Turkey over Wallachia and other Rumanian territories which would eventually devolve into the Crimean War. Besides landscapes fortfcatons and batlefelds Szathmary managed 1 The Imperial Hotel was situated at 134 South Street Valleta a few doors away from Lecchi’s atelier. Arriving on 23 March1864 General Garibaldi and his two sons Menot and Ricciot stayed at the Imperial and lef the hotel the following day to board the evening steamer which was to take them to London. The hotel’s owners the Gabareta family put up a marble plaque in its entrance to commemorate Garibaldi’s visit. They changed its name to St. James Hotel in 1917. A German parachute mine destroyed the building in March 1941 and the Embassy Cinema now the Embassy Complex later replaced it. 2 Bonello Giovanni Stefano Lecchi tracked down to Malta in the 1860’s The Sunday Times of Malta 1 February 2016 pages 36-37. 3 Ibid.

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16 | The official MIPP Newsletter to photograph various troops both Turkish and Russian and their commanding ofcers. When the Turks occupied Bucharest he arranged to get a ‘session’ with their commander Omar Pasha although Fenton’s later ‘likeness’ of Pasha would become more famous. Szathmary used a wagon specially equipped with a darkroom for processing the glass plates with wet collodion. He went to the Danube’s banks and various other places to document the war. In April 1854 his van became a target for the Turkish artllery who thought it belonged to a Russian spy. It was fortunate for the photographer that the gunners were not accurate enough to hit him. Unfortunately very litle survives of Szathmary’s war work and it is perhaps one of the reasons why he has nearly faced obscurity. Similarly to the previously mentoned McCosh Austrian born Ludwig Angerer 1827-1879 4 was primarily employed with the military. On 13 March 1854 during the Crimean War he had joined the army becoming a pharmacist at the Military Medicine Department. He came to Bucharest with the Austrian occupaton troops working at their feld hospital. Apart from his pharmacist dutes Angerer practced photography using his extensive equipment to take pictures of the civilian populaton capturing some of the earliest images of Bucharest showing parts of the city before they were redeveloped during the late 19th century. He documented the inhabitants of the Danubian principalites of Moldavia and Wallachia creatng an interestng ethnographic portrait of their society. Moldavia and Wallachia were already both occupied by Russian troops since July 1853 and Angerer also took pictures of Turkish and Russian troops placing him amongst the world’s frst war photographers. Angerer returned to Vienna around 1857 and on 13th April 1858 resigned from the army in order to focus on photography. Ludwig became Austria’s premier photographer being appointed photographer of the Imperial Court and receiving medals in London Paris and Berlin in the 1860s. His refned work amply demonstrates his technical and aesthetc skills and he is a photographer who merits more study and acclaim. He is also credited with introducing the carte de visite to Vienna and was the brother of photographer Victor Angerer. However McCosh Angerer Szathmary and Lecchi are ofen ignored and in most historical accounts partcularly those originatng out of Britain Roger Fenton 5 1819 -1869 is ofen debatably considered as being the frst war photographer. The war he depicted was again the cruel Crimean confict which lasted between October 1853 and March 1856. On 8 March 1854 Fenton landed at Balaklava a seaport in the South of Crimea and remained there untl 22nd June. Fenton’s work was a systematc and aesthetc atempt to document the war which in my opinion fell rather short largely due to the fact that his employers wanted to 4 Angerer was actually born in a part of Malacky which now makes part of Slovakia. 5 Roger Fenton who was taught by early pioneer Gustave Le Grey within a year Fenton was exhibitng his work natonwide and across Europe. In 1853 he was instrumental in helping to found what would later become the Royal Photographic Society under the patronage of Prince Albert. However it was not untl war broke out in Crimea between the Britsh Otoman and French Empires on one side and the Russian Empire on the other that his most famous photographs that would defne him in later years were taken. Based in the Crimea for nearly 18 months the 350 images he took are among the most enduring portraits of the Crimean War. Yet these did litle to counter the negatve public reacton back in England. In 1869 at his home in Poter’s Bar in Hertordshire Fenton died afer a week-long illness. He was just 50 years old. Recent fndings of the work of Italian photographer Stefano Lecchi put the later’s war zone work in 1849. Lecchi’s work challenges the belief that Fenton was the frst war photographer as it precedes Fenton’s Crimean work of 1854 as well as Robertson and Beato’s work of 1855. 16

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17 | The official MIPP Newsletter A predominantly architectural photograph taken by John McCosh c. 1849. It is one of the earliest photographs taken of the Indian sub-contnent showing the gateway of Badshahi Mosque in Lahore India 5 5

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18 | The official MIPP Newsletter Burmese girl John McCosh 1852. An image taken by Stefano Lecchi during the siege of Rome in 1849 shows the devastaton of the struggle between the Papal and French forces on the one side and the supporters of the failed Roman Republic on the other. Lecchi is known to have been in Malta. 7 6 7 6

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19 | The official MIPP Newsletter 8 9 10 Carte-de-visite of Carl Bap- tste de Szathmary possibly a self-portrait. 8 The verso of a carte-de-visite by Carl Baptste de Szathmary taken in Bucharest. 10 A study of peasants by Carl Baptste de Szathmary. 9

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20 | The official MIPP Newsletter glamorize the confict and hide its true horror. Fenton was a leading fgure in Britsh photography and had been commissioned by a frm of publishers Thomas Agnew and Son to create a photographic record of the war. He masterfully used large format glass plate cameras and the collodion or wet plate process which required long exposure tmes of up to twenty seconds or more. Moreover each plate process had to be sensitzed directly before being used and developed immediately afer exposure before the emulsion dried necessitatng the use of some form of “mobile” darkroom. In Fenton’s case this took the form of a converted wine merchant’s wagon probably similar to Szathmary’s wagon. The naïve unpreparedness of the Britsh in the Crimean confict was evident with disastrous results – around 10000 soldiers died from malnutriton disease and weath - er exposure before the real batles had even begun Yet Fenton’s Crimean war photography is glaringly beref of scenes of actual death and destructon although his leters and diary reveal that he saw plenty of evidence of the horrors of war. On one occasion he came across the body of a dead Russian: “lying as if he had raised himself upon his elbow the bare skull stcking up with stll enough fesh lef in the muscles to prevent it falling from the shoulders.” Technically there was no reason why Fenton could not have photographed this subject in a more graphic manner. However the Crimean War was extremely unpopular with the Britsh public and press and the Britsh government hoped that Fenton’s photographs would actually counteract the negatve reports of military mismanagement. Taking into account the concerns of Fenton’s regular royal patrons coupled with the need to create images that would have some commercial potental it is hardly surprising that he chose not to record the full horror of war. In fact Fenton who in 1853 was one of the founders of the English Photographic Society regularly did family portraits for Queen Victoria and might have thought it wise to tone down the disasters of a war which did not go partcularly well for the Britsh Empire. Fen - ton’s photographs tend towards showing a more artstc and glorifying content: his well-studied images mainly depict soldiers ofcers and personnel in contrived heroic poses or proudly at rest. Taking nothing away from Fenton’s remarkable images the fact remains that he only took ‘positve’ images of the war and thus the argument arises about whether he was a war photographer in the true sense of the word. Incidentally evidence exists that proves that Roger Fenton did set foot in Malta albeit for a single day Fenton was on one of his passages from the Crimea on the way to Constantnople when his ship berthed for just one day in Valleta harbour most probably for provisions as well as to give passengers an oppor - tunity to break up their sea voyage. In a leter to his wife Grace in 1855 6 Fenton recounts his arrival in the Grand Harbour as looking for- ward “at the prospect of a good days’ sightseeing.” 6 Roger Fenton’s leters from the Crimea leter number 2 2 March 1855. Recipient: Grace Fenton leter-book: Joseph Fenton leter-book Gern - sheim Collecton Harry Ransom Humanites Research Centre

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21 | The official MIPP Newsletter 11 12 Studio portrait of Ludwig Angerer before 1879. 11 A studied image by Ludwig Angerer of four men in a studio 12 Part 2 of this paper will be published in the next MIPP Newsleter.

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15 | The official MIPP Newsletter Good pictures. Tragedy and violence certainly make powerful images. It is what we get paid for. But there is a price extracted with every such frame: some of the emotion the vulnerability the empathy that makes us human is lost every time the shutter is released. Greg Marinovich The Bang Bang Club “ ” PART 2

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16 | The official MIPP Newsletter GHOSTS FROM THE PAST who was the frst known ‘real’ war photographer PART 2 The Crimean war coinciding as it did with improving photographic technology and easier travel atracted other important photographers. One such photographer was James Robertson 1813-1888. Robertson a Britsh citzen whose family was of Scotsh origin had trained as a coin engraver at the Royal Mint in London in the 1830s. He took up residence in Constantnople Istanbul in 1841 where he worked as chief engraver to the Imperial Mint. Robertson was in the Crimea at the onset of the war but litle is known of his work during that frst inital period. Yet in September 1855 and again in 1856 he went back to document scenes from the war. Being in Constantnople Robertson’s proximity and access to the war zones contributed to his decision to take photographs in those areas. His Crimean war work has a much more realistc and photojournalistc trait than that of the more celebrated Roger Fenton. Some of Robertson’s work gives an insight into the real destructon of the confict as it would have been actually experienced on the feld. Unlike Fenton who lef the war zone before it ended Robertson was present for the fall of Sebastopol in September 1855 and recorded the devastatons caused by the siege. Later subsequent photographs of Robertson which record the afermath of the siege of Lucknow India in 1858 are quite explicit and harrowing. On the 30th September 1856 just over a year afer Fenton’s one day sojourn in Malta The Malta Times announced Robertson’s arrival on our islands: “We have had the pleasure of seeing some admirable specimens of photographic art executed by Mr. Robertson who has lately arrived in Malta from the Crimea and Constantnople and weare glad to be able to inform our readers that he has established a photographic establishment at Morelli’s Apartments 63 Strada Reale Valleta. Mr. Robertson has on sale an extensive collecton of views of the most interestng localites at the late seat of War beside many taken at Constantnople and Greece. The portraits and costumes some of which are coloured are truly inimitable and we strongly recommend the admirers of this beautful art to inspect Mr. Robertson’s productons. Mr.Robertson has lef the Island for England on a visit of a few months an assistant most probably Felice Beato remains in charge who will be happy to exhibit the pictures to visitors.” 1 1 The Malta Times 30 September 1856.

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17 | The official MIPP Newsletter Empress Elisabeth with her dog by Ludwig Angerer 1863. 13 13 2 CHECK ISSUE 88 FOR PART ONE GHOSTS PAST FROM THE PAST Who was the frst known ‘REAL’ war photographer By Kevin Casha

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18 | The official MIPP Newsletter Roger Fenton posing in a Zouave uniform during the Crimean War. Zouaves were crack infantry units originally composed of Algerians. During the Crimean War Zouaves served with the French Army who were allies of the Britsh. Fenton’s self- portrait in the costume indicates the high regard the Britsh felt for the Zouaves. 14 14 Personnel of the 8th Hussars preparing a meal in the feld by Richard Fenton 15 15

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19 | The official MIPP Newsletter Here we have a possible clue of Robertson’s relatonship with Felice Beato at tmes also referred to as Felix Beato 1832-1909. 1 At that tme Robertson was en-route to London and most probably delegated Beato to run his Malta business. In fact in April 1855 Robertson had already married Beato’s sister Maria Matlde and for a period Beato and Robertson became partners. It is recorded that Beato was actng as assistant to Robertson in the Crimea during April 1856. It is also highly probable that it was Robertson older than Felice who might have taught both Felice and his brother Antonio the basic techniques of photography. Felice Beato’s later photographs similarly seem to emulate much of the polished style of Robertson and several photographs stll exist signed by both photographers. A very signifcant one is an albumen silver print atributed to Robertson and Beato which was taken in Valleta c.1856. 2 Felice Beato’s Maltese work cannot really be traced most probably due to the practce that it would have been mainly Robertson who signed the photographs even whilst working with Beato. Further proof of Robertson’s Malta connecton is on a publicity notce by Robertson in The Malta Times of 18 th November 1856: “Portraits are taken daily between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.” The Beatos were actually born in Venice Italy but they were initally raised in Britsh Corfu. Subsequently they became Britsh citzens. In 1851 Beato had purchased his frst camera equipment in Paris thus these clues point towards a short cooperaton most likely as master and assistant between Felice and Robertson even in Malta. Felice Beato went on to become the frst known photographer to devote himself entrely to depictng Asia and the Near East. Apart from his early days in Malta he worked in the Crimea India Athens Constantnople Palestne and Japan. He eventually setled in Yokohama Japan and from 1863 to 1877 produced a great number of delicate beautful and sometmes exquisitely hand-coloured ethnographic portraits and general views of the land of the rising sun. Beato is defnitely considered as one of the frst true ‘war’ photographers. Besides the Crimean confagraton mainly assistng Robertson he photographed the confict of the Opium War in China in 1860 as well as the Sudanese colonial wars of 1885. While stll in business partnership with his brother-in-law James Robertson in the 1850s Beato documented the Indian mutny and its terrible afermath. These photographs were the frst confict zone work done solely by Beato himself. They are signed ‘Robertson Beato’ presumably to take advantage of the company’s known trade name or due to an agreement between the two photographers. Research does point towards Robertson being the senior partner and Beato the assistant. 1 An applicaton by Beato for an 1858 travel permit included informaton suggestng he was born in 1833 or 1834 on the island of Corfu. Earlier sources had given his birth date as 1825 or c.1825 but these dates may have been confused references to the possible birth date of his brother Antonio. However the actual death certfcate discovered in 2009 provides the frst defnitve evidence of Beato’s dates and places of birth and death. Bennet Terry History of Photography in China 1842 -1860 page 241 2009 Bernard Quaritch. 2 The original photograph is at the John Paul Gety Museum Los Angeles.

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20 | The official MIPP Newsletter Interior of the Redan by James Robertson. 16 16 Russian batery in the Crimean War James Robertson 17 17

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21 | The official MIPP Newsletter 18 Men working in the Britsh cemetary James Robertson 18 A feld portrait of General Bosquet by James Robertson 19 19

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22 | The official MIPP Newsletter 20 The docks photographed by James Robertson following an explosion during the Crimean confict 20 It is fascinatng to read D.F. Rennie’s account when he encountered Beato on the feld whilst the former was chronicling the atack on the Taku forts in China on the 21st of August 1860: “I walked round the ramparts on the west side. They were thickly strewed with dead—in the north-west angle thirteen were lying in one group round a gun. Signor Beato was here in great excitement characterising the group as “beautful” and begging that it might not be interfered with untl perpetuated by his photographic apparatus which was done a few minutes aferwards. Not far from this group a tall and very dignifed-looking man of between ffy and sixty stated to be the general who had conducted the defence was lying dead his lower jaw shatered by a rife bullet”. 3 3 Rennie D.F The Britsh Arms in North China and Japan: Peking 1860 Kagoshima 1862 John Murray London 1864 page 112.

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23 | The official MIPP Newsletter 21 General Lacy Walter Giles an image prominently signed by James Robertson 21 Beato and Robertson were amongst the earliest photographers to work in the Holy Land. Their war photographs are believed to be the frst to graphically show the real ravages of war as well as human corpses on a batlefeld. Felice Beato is also known to have established in 1863 what was most probably the frst photography gallery in Japan 4 specializing in “Depictng the noted places scenery and dress of Japan.” The pioneer photographers mentoned here where defnitely amongst the frst valid known exponents of wartme photography but perhaps with the excepton of Robertson and Beato they were nearly all ‘guilty’ of glamourising war. In fact the frst tme citzens on the home front were really made aware of the actual state of carnage and destructon that war inevitably brought with it was during the American Civil War 1861-1865. Photographers such as Mathew Brady Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan found enthusiastc audiences for their images as America’s interests were piqued by the shockingly realistc medium of photography. It was lef to the Civil War photographs to conclusively strip away much of the Victorian-era romance previously associated with warfare. 4 The Allinari Photographic Archive in Italy has a fabulous collecton of Felice Beato’s images of Japan. Most of these are expertly hand-coloured.

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24 | The official MIPP Newsletter 22 The Interior of Taku North Fort by Felice Beato immediately afer it was stormed and captured. 22 Whatever conclusions one derives from my refecton on this subject the pioneering war work of McCosh Angerer Lecchi Szathmary Fenton Robertson and Beato like that of most of their contemporaries is ever more remarkable due to the early rudimentary equipment with which photographers of that period went about their trade and art. Their difcultes were extreme: they were using bulky large view cameras and darkroom equipment glass plate negatves and mixing chemicals on the batlefeld under severe and adverse conditons. It is indeed exceptonal that their prints were even produced in the frst place and that they stll exist to these very days. Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Casha All rights reserved. This text or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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25 | The official MIPP Newsletter 23 An early Felice Beato photograph he ably portrayed Japan afer it opened up its borders to foreigners. 23 KEVIN CASHA President Course Director Malta Institute of Professional Photography MIPP Master SWPP FRPS FMIPP FSWPP AMPS AMPA Hon FMPS. Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts University of Malta Technical Co-ordinator Malta National Picture Archive For permission requests write to the publisher at the address below: 82A Triq il-Gdida Paola or Email :

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2020 JULY/AUG CONTACTS Web: Email: Address: 76 MIPP Britannia Street Paola PLA 1426 Malta Tel No: 0356 99470106 htps:/ / mippwall/

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