A different perspective on Lebanon: Elio Sassine’s aerial photography

“One of the aims of the book is to contribute to the photographic memory of Lebanon.”
by Danah Kaouri and Safea Altef

18 November 2018 | 10:46

Source: by Annahar

Elio Sassine, during media interviews to speak about his new book One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Land. (Annahar/Safea Altef)

BEIRUT: Dr. Elio Sassine is a father of three, a psychiatrist, and the vice president of APEG (Association pour la Protection de l’Enfant de la Guerre); an NGO that provides free mental health across different Lebanese territories.

In addition to that,nSassine enjoys hiking and photography, and by combining these two hobbies together he was able to put together a photography book called One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Land. The book includes aerial photographs of different regions of Lebanon, captured by drones flown over the different regions. 

All the photographs in the book are accompanied by GPS coordinates, the location, as well as the name of the area and district.

Sassine has been practicing aerial photography for almost five years, and the publication of One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Land was never planned. His love for aerial photography resulted in beautiful photographs as many of his fans noted, which culminated in this stunning aerial photography book.

Regarding the choice of the photographs, Sassine told Annahar that “the selection process was very personal.” Among 4,000 photographs that Sassine captured, 120 were chosen to be published. Moreover, Sassine does not apply heavy editing to his photographs, limiting himself to cropping, rotating to shift perspective, and some color enhancing to tune for different inconvenient weather conditions. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when taking these photos as Sassine noted. First is the skill to take photos using a drone, “you don’t want to crash your drone on people’s heads!” Second, is being aware of your surroundings “in Beirut its more difficult since there’s more cars and movement.” Third, it is crucial to know what areas to avoid “you don’t want to go into sensitive areas such as army bases” Sassine explained.

One of the challenges of aerial photography is physical fitness and the ability to hike to distant places. Throughout his different trips, Sassine “always met very kind and generous people from different areas.”

Sassine highlights that "nearly thirty years after the war, we are still enclosed and fear each other,” expressing hope that the book encourages people to further explore their homeland. 

The proceeds from the book will go to APEG and their different mental health clinics all over Lebanon. The NGO was established in 1996 to provide mental health care to children.

The NGO has grown to provide mental health care to both children and adults for conditions relating to war and post-traumatic stress. 

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