Portraits and Cairo Coffee


A typically beautiful Cairo morning, cool in the dusty shadows with cats basking in the warm November sun.

I crossed the not yet busy square of Midan Hussein dodging a bread delivery boy balancing a rack of fresh baladi bread on his head; I slipped into my usual first port of call for coffee, one of the many joys of Cairo is never having to walk far to find a coffee shop.

While I waited for my coffee I loaded some film and set my pen and notebook on the chair beside me, I looked over at the man sitting opposite pulling heavily on his Nargila, I said good morning and noticing the portrait looking over his shoulder I asked if I could take his photograph, he nodded and I made just the one frame, my coffee had arrived and we both resumed our morning ritual.


From my El-Hara project.

El-Hara was a project inspired by the works of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, shot sometime ago on a couple of crusty old Nikons and pockets full of TriX.

I was lucky enough to meet Mahfouz and the project has been exhibited in a few countries, I will post some more from the series in due course.

Prints Available to Purchase

13 thoughts on “Portraits and Cairo Coffee

    1. Absolutely, more often than not the best images are made in the last place you would imagine, although for anyone who knows Cairo coffee shops they do make an excellent studio.
      Thank you

    1. Thanks Catherine.
      Well these Cairo images are pre-digital but from time to time I am still shooting film, in fact having given up on it for a time am now trying to do more and even intend a future darkroom. I miss the process.

  1. John, I lived in downtown Cairo and Giza. This is a lovely photo. You were lucky that you could use a camera. The streets are lined with men playing backgammon and smoking shiesha… rolled carpets decorate the ouside of buildings and then become sidewalk mosques for prayer. When was this photot taken – before or after the Revolution?

  2. Great stuff! Was so excited to find this as I am doing something slightly similar in London, although I am originally from Egypt. So refreshing to see, love it. I find cafes do work as amazing studios.

    1. Your blog is brilliant and I will follow avidly, great images and my home city too, I have a great affection for East London although am originally from West.
      Thank you for dropping by and saying hello

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