On the streets of Doha The city as seen by Torsten Spiller

Doha, the capital of Qatar, is currently one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Besides the newly developed district of West Bay with modern high rise buildings, there are still parts of the old town to discover. Close to the traditional Souq Waqif and the new urban development Msheireb are many old houses occupied by low wage workers.

Since the development of the city doesn’t stop, the space in the inner city is taken over more and more by new, modern buildings. Whole streets are getting demolished and inhabitants are moved to new buildings outside of the city.

In most cases the demolishing and renewal is inescapable because of the old tumble-down buildings which endanger the residents. However, with the ongoing demolition and renewal the city and its inhabitants are changing.

During the last years I spend a lot of time in downtown Doha to capture the people and streets and keep this alive, which will be soon history. I met many people and got invited many times for tea or even breakfast. People who are far away from being rich, people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Egypt, Sudan and from many other countries who are all living peacefully, downtown in some neighborhood.

Some of them are here since more than 40 years and earning money for the future of the families and children left back in their home countries. They usually go back to visit their families once a year. Since there are so many different nationalities within a small radius, you see a lot of different faces on the streets to be captured.

Free food during Iftar

During Ramadan this year I visited an area in downtown Doha, where free food is distributed. A long queue of people was waiting patiently for the food to arrive. At this location, a family from Qatar was doing the free food distribution every year daily during Ramadan as well as in a smaller scale even during the rest of the year.

In Islam, the distribution of free food is very common during Ramadan and there are many other locations where this is practiced usually in big Iftar tents.

About Torsten Spiller:

I’m Torsten Spiller from Germany and came to Qatar in 2011. Very soon I got in contact with local photographers and the local artist and Leica shop owner Khalifa Al Obaidly (Khalifa Art Center – http://www.kac.qa). Funny enough, me as a German didn’t know much about the German brand Leica since I was shooting only with a DSLR and old medium format film cameras at this time. Khalifa was the one who brought me finally to Leica.

Some months later I owned my first M8 and was pleased with the results and shooting experience. As already well known, Leica rangefinders are perfect for the street. People don’t get scared and don’t take you too serious with your small camera. Later I changed digital to the M-E and analouge to the M6. I still also enjoy the old picture shooting experience of taking analogue photos which I process and enlarge in my own darkroom.

This year I purchased the fantastic Leica Q which I think is made for shooting on the street. I took some photos with it which I would not have been able to take with the M-E because of the amazing fast autofocus of the Q. In my hands the camera (with grip and finger-loop) is just perfect in size – not too small or too big, always ready for shooting. I like the flexibility and speed the camera is providing. You can use the camera fully manual and frame your picture through the viewfinder like I’m used to do it with the M-E or you can shoot from different angles using the autofocus and the LCD screen on the back. 

To know more about Torsten Spiller’s work, please visit his official website and follow him on Facebook and Flickr.

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2 comments

  • Very impressive Mr. Torsten Spiller. I have seen the works of many photographers, in my humble opinion your photos are most amazing. I wish you continued success, and keep up the good work.

  • It was a pleasure walking around with you on our Friday morning outings there Torsten. Really got my inspiration going again. Thanks.

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