With Oum Kulthoum

"Mohamed Karaza"

My love for the art of photography originated in 1958, in the city of Jado. It was all thanks to Mr. Oreiby Weshah, a senior administrative operative in Jado’s central Jabal Nafusa area. Then, when I visited Tripoli in early 1959, I met the photographer Ali Ibrahim Bin Bishr Al-Rayani, who owned a photography shop on the 24th of December Street, where I got the opportunity to learn the basics of photography, film development and printing. Two technicians worked the evening shift at the store; one of them was Italian, and the other was a Libyan man named Abdel Hamid El-Shamakhi, who worked at the Federal Police's photography department. At the time, they were considered the best printing and developing technicians in Libya. When I mastered the necessary skills, I was entrusted with the morning shift. 

Having gained sufficient experience, I became qualified to print a large photograph, measuring 1.10 m by 2 m. A work like this required a special type of magnifier, as well as developing basins measuring more than 1.5 m by 2.5 m, or a device equipped with a conveyor belt. But after manipulating the materials and using a room emptied of its furniture as my studio, I succeeded, and I managed to produce the largest photograph ever shot of the singer Oum Kulthoum. The photograph, which I took during her concert the night before then developed and printed it, came as a delightful surprise to her. She told the press that it was the most precious gift she had received. 

 

The photo of me handing her the photograph was shot at the Egyptian ambassador's house, during a ceremony to collect gifts and donations for the war effort in Palestine. At the time, I was a photojournalist, and the head of the photography department at the Al-Elm newspaper, which was an extension of the West Tripoli newspaper.

Born in Yafran, a photojournalist, dean of Libyan photographers.

Mohamed Karaza
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