A Day Too Late for Smiles

Two young Tamil men from the north who had travelled a long way to be at the protests in Colombo on 9th July 2022. The placard accuses Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of playing games while the country was in ruins. They insisted I take their picture and, as word began to trickle through the crowd that Gotabaya had announced he would resign, I asked them to smile. They replied that though they were happy, it was too late for Sri Lankans to smile.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/4000 • ISO400 •


“Api Awa Colombata, Gota Epa Kiwwata!”

“අපි ආවා කොළඹට, ගෝටා එපා කිව්ව!” (“We came to Colombo, though Gota said no!”) chant hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans covering the Galle Face Green promenade in downtown Colombo, on 9th July 2022; the culmination of months of demonstrations demanding President Gotabaya Rajapakse step down. Since the protests began in April, Gotabaya’s brothers, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Finance Minister Basil Rajapakse have been forced to step down, accused of corruption and ineptitude that has caused the worst economic catastrophe in the country’s recorded history. After protestors overran President’s House and several other government offices and official residences on the 9th, and burned down the home of current Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that night, President Gotabaya Rajapakse fled the country, though he continues to issue decrees while in exile, amidst mounting tension and clashes between protestors and the in Sri Lankan police.

• 50mm • f/4.5 • 1/2500 • ISO400 •

The Heights of Victory

Joyous protestors in downtown Colombo, minutes after Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse announced his resignation. 9th July 2022. Nationwide demonstrations that began in April had succeeded in ousting Rajapakse’s brothers and nephew from senior cabinet positions, accused of corruption and ineptitude that has caused the worst economic catastrophe in Sri Lankan history.

• 135mm • f/5.6 • 1/1000 • ISO400 •

One More Messiah

With an image of the Buddha tattooed on his forehead, this monk assured me he would one day be the leader of Sri Lanka; just as soon as Gota went home. He also told me he could drive any vehicle on land or sea, and knew how to use everything from a 9mm pistol to a T56 to an RPG. He said he’d lived in Jaffna throughout the war and that the ‘Koti’ had taught him everything he knew. ‘Gotagogama’, the ad hoc protest village of tents, shacks, and portable lavatories set up on Galle Face Green, in early April, attracts all sorts; from communist student bodies to local ladies’ book clubs; all united in wanting Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse and his government to step down, accused of corruption and ineptitude, and the creation of the worst economic crisis in the country’s modern history. Colombo, May 2022.

• 60mm • f/5 • 1/50 • ISO6400 •

Church, Temple, and that Old Red Line

Anglican and Roman Catholic nuns calling for Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse and his government to step down, protest against the backdrop of the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre, a stark reminder of the wasteful policies of a regime that has brought the country to economic ruin. Colombo, April 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/800 • ISO800 •

Continue reading “Church, Temple, and that Old Red Line”

Enslaved in Slave Island #4

Beneath the ever rising skyline of Colombo’s downtown district, a National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP) outreach team explains a pamphlet to an illiterate needle user. Slave Island, January 2022. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund.*

*shot on a Canon EOS 5DMkIV & EF 24-105/f4L, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

Rising Colombo #2

Downtown Colombo, and Stanley Jansz Grounds, Colpetty. February 2022.

Land for Water

Land for Water by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
Downtown Colombo from above looks like something out of Waterworld. The marine incursion of the Beira Lake in the foreground is reflected in the reclaimed land that will soon become the Port City. To the right is the Colombo Port. Shot from the top of the 350m Lotus Tower in March 2018.

Maradana Junction

Looking East towards Maradana #8 by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
The Maradana Railway Station (in the centre of the photo), built in 1908, and the Elphinstone Theatre (extreme left), built in 1916, are two of Maradana’s most enduring landmarks. Shot, facing east, from the 350m tall Lotus Tower. Colombo, Sri Lanka. March 2018.