Travel Category Winner
While the landscape of the American West was what first drew Musleh Jameel to study photography in the U.S., the Saudi Arabian native discovered a human landscape here that led him to broaden his artistic focus. “I’ve decided that I have to do something related to human daily life—the human struggle, the beauty of humanity, the good sides and bad sides,” he says.
To that end, Jameel took his new perspective and photographic skills back to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage that draws millions of Muslims from around the world to the holy city of Mecca. “I wanted to document people and how they do the rituals,” he says, “how they pray and how they worship.” His project included portraits of many pilgrims and culminated in this image of worshippers taking part in the Tawaf. During the Tawaf pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the holiest site in Mecca, in a common movement that symbolizes their unity and equality in the eyes of God.
To capture that movement and the spirit of the event, Jameel mounted his camera on a tripod and slowed its shutter speed down to five seconds, which turned the many moving figures into a ghostly streak. “The image is about how people blend together in this place,” the photographer explains. “It shows their spiritual journey.”