Foto Star Studio

Posted by Mark

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A few days ago a friend of mine on instagram posted pictures of a photo studio in Kuwait city where she was getting her picture photoshopped onto different backdrops. The very cheesy kind of backdrops with the worst photoshopping job ever. I had seen those kind of photos countless of times before but had no idea where to get them done so I asked her for directions and headed there myself.

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I have no clue how she found the place but my guess is she must have just been exploring because I know that area pretty well but had never run across the studios. To find them follow these directions: If you’re walking from Salhiya, keep Caribou Coffee on your right hand side and walk straight to the area behind it. There will be a large parking garage on your left with shops underneath. Keep that building on your left and keep walking straight until you see a shawerma place on your right called Tarboush. Right after the shawerma place is corridor that takes you inside the building which is filled with shops. Walk around 20 meters until you find stairs on your left that take you down to the basement. Thats where you will find a number of these photography studios.

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I opted for Foto Star Studio since they were willing to take my photo, retouch it onto a backdrop and print it for me all while I wait. The shop next door wanted an hour for example which I didn’t want to wait. Choosing a backdrop was the most difficult thing to do since they had so many options. I decided to get my photo taken first so the guy can start working on it while I look for a suitable backdrop. Next time I go back though I will do it the other way around since I realized depending on the backdrop you choose you might want to pose a certain way. I ended up going with a backdrop of a park with the popular Indian actor Chiranjeevi super imposed onto it while I’m standing next to him. It will now be my new Facebook profile pic.

The cost is fairly reasonable, originally he wanted KD1.5 but I managed to bring him down to KD1 because I wanted two photos. I actually wanted to get more photos done but he didn’t accept Knet and I only had KD2 on me so I’m definitely going back again most likely with a group of friends. Also if you’re thinking of doing this you might also want to consider taking some props with you.


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The New AAB World

Posted by Mark

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I passed by Bang & Olufsen in Symphony Mall the other the night to see when they were getting the new BeoPlay A2 when I spotted a new AAB World store on the lower level. It turns out the store has been open for two months now and it’s their largest store yet. AAB World are a photography store and I’ve dealt with them on a number of occasions either for product reviews on the blog or for personal purchases.

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The branch I used to frequent often was in the basement of Shamiya Coop and that location is really tiny so having this large store in my neighborhood makes things a lot more convenient. This location is so big they practically have each one of their products on display for you to check out including all their studio lights and camera stabilizers (for the movie buffs).

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So if you’re interested in checking it out, they’re open from 9AM to 1PM and then again from 4PM to 10PM.


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Kuwait didn’t look like Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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While flipping through the photos I brought back home from KOC I found these three which I loved because of the fact they look nothing like Kuwait. The first one on top I’m guessing is from the Anglo American School, the second photo is of a house in Ahmadi while the last photo from the Gazelle Club.

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Photos courtesy of the KOC Information Team.


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The KOC Photography Archive

Posted by Mark

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Earlier today I visited the Kuwait Oil Company offices in Ahmadi since a friend of mine helped me get permission to access their full photography archive. So, I headed there with my portable hard drive expecting to find a few interesting images that I’d copy and then leave. That didn’t exactly happen and I’m not sure I have the words to explain what I saw.

They have two rooms, the main archive room and a smaller negatives room. The negatives room is covered with drawers that are filled with film negatives of every event thats ever occurred in Ahmadi from the late 30s up till now. By every event I literally mean every event, every party, every play, every school activity, every PR activity… EVERYTHING. They’ve literally been documenting Ahmadi since Ahmadi started. Not only that but they’ve also been documenting Kuwait so there are a tons of old photos from all around Kuwait like the old market, Entertainment City, Muthana Complex, etc… you name it and they most likely will have it (except for photos of Kids R’ Us which I looked for and didn’t find). The room is extremely organized with different drawers containing different kind of activities so for example the negatives for the Social Activities are all located in two columns of drawers (around 8 drawers high). The highest drawer contains the oldest photos while the lowest drawer the newest. Each envelope is dated and has a description of what’s inside and there are over 300,000 negatives of which only around 50,000 have been digitized so far. The reason they didn’t lose majority of the archive during the 1990 invasion is because employees took boxes filled with negatives and hid them in their homes until the war was over.

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I spent a bit of time flipping through the drawers but the majority of the time I was sitting in the main room where a computer is connected to their server containing all the digitized copies of the images. Finding photos involves searching for something specific, so for example you search for the word “market” and the database will pull out a list of names of all the envelopes that have the word market in them. You then read the descriptions and if you find one that is related to what you’re looking for, you need to copy the number and then go to a certain folder on the hard drive and search for that number to pull up the images. It’s not a very quick task at all.

So anyway, this is whats going to happen. Right now I have a hard drive filled with images from today which I am going to start posting next week probably under the heading “The KOC Archive” or something like that. I also told them I would visit them at least once a month so I could continue to dig through their archive. If there is anything specific you guys want me to find let me know and I’ll write it down and look for it on my next visit.


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Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2

Posted by Mark

Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s is a series of posts on simple things from life back then that many people might have forgotten or not even have known about.
If you missed the first part click [Here].

This is
Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2
by John Beresford

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Kuwait Rugby Football Club – the first ‘Oval Ball’
My father, Paul Beresford, is doing the crowning. Photo probably taken 1949-1952. As the club house was a large nissen hut, it was held elsewhere – probably in the guest house as the Hubara Club was not built at this time. The club colours were black and amber hoops with black shorts ( alternate strip was red and white hoops with white shorts, if you had them). Note the set of rugby goal posts framing the crowning.

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Old Diving Board, Fintas, 1953
Fintas was a few huts and really just an area rather than a settlement. It was north of Fahaheel. From google maps it is now completely built up. Later on KOC fenced off a Families Beach just south of the North Pier. There were also beaches at the SBOA – Small Boat Owners’ Association and the CYC – Cumberland Yacht Club, just south of the South Pier and north of the Shaiba complex, that always smelled of sulphur. These were within the perimeter of the Mina Al Ahmadi complex.

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Ahmadi, 1959
Me rolling around some of the Swedish prefabricated houses. The caption on the back says ‘John rolling round the Swedish houses’. I might have been driving it slowly. After all, it is a small roller, it wouldn’t go very fast, and there is nothing round to be hit so I might have been driving it. I don’t remember.

There are no eucalyptus trees in the photo. These were planted along every road with a hollow around the base of the trunk and the earth scooped into a circular wall around it. A lot of houses had tamarisk trees planted along the perimeter to lessen the wind and to give some shade. A lot of the roads around Ahmadi had pavements – hardly anyone walked along them as it was too hot. I remember once where the temperature got to 178 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun – 81.2 degrees c. the swimming pool in the Hubara Club was measured at about 108 degrees f (42 degrees c). I got out at 105 – no-one was swimming, we were all floating around like jellyfish. The water was above blood temperature and just warmed you up and we all became so lethargic. Since then I have wondered why a hot bath does not seem to have the same effect.

Yet I also remember once at the KOC Anglo American School, which only took children up to the age of 13 – there was a very limited choice of schooling in Kuwait at the time and KOC gave parents a grant to send children to boarding school back in the UK – all of us kids were grouped in the playground around a tap that had been dripping, and a large icicle had formed – it was the first we had seen. I caught the bus at 07:10 to go to school and we came home for lunch at 11:30. Dad arrived, and went back to work at about 12:15, and would be back at home at 16:30. At about 12:15 I got the bus back to school and was back at home at 15:30. In the middle of the morning we had break, and there would be a metal container of hot cocoa for us to drink, every day, whether it was summer or winter. It was piping hot and we were given enamel cups to drink from. These got too hot to use so the first children used to take 2 cups and pour the cocoa from one cup to the other in order to cool it down, which meant that half of the children got no cocoa at all. It was so hot – if you drank it immediately it did burn your lips. Of course, whether you really want a cup of hot cocoa in summer in Kuwait is a moot point. It was probably something about being British.

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Paul with old Ford V-8 pick up #899, 1954
The seat looks to be really low relative to the window as Dad was about 5’10”. Looks like it would have made a fun little hot-rod.

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End of part 2


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Red Arrows Over Kuwait City

Posted by Mark

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Beautiful shot of the Red Arrows flying in formation over the Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City. This image was a winner in the 2014 Royal Air Force Photographic Competition. [Link]


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Q8 Awal, a collection of old Kuwait photos

Posted by Mark

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Q8 Awal is an instagram account with the sole purpose of collecting and sharing old photos and videos of Kuwait. There are a few out there that do the same but what I liked about Q8 Awal is that many of the photos I hadn’t seen before and also the fact that they don’t watermark the photos. Check them on instagram @q8_awal


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Faisal Al Fouzan: Portraits of Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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VSCO has featured the very talented local photographer Faisal Al Fouzan and they’ve shared some of their favorite shots for the world to see. The photos are all incredible and I’m extremely jealous that I don’t have Faisal’s skills in recognizing and capturing moments. He’s super talented yet he only has 22,000 followers on instagram which I think is completely unfair when compared to some other instagrammers with the most horrid of shots and subjects. But that’s instagram for you.

Check out the feature [Here] and be sure to follow him on instagram @faisalthef

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The Old Cinema Salmiya

Posted by Mark

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Last week when I got a hold of the really old Cinescape movie theaters I also got a hold of pictures of the old Cinema Salmiya before it got demolished. That’s the second movie theater I had ever been to (Octupussy at a dodgy cinema in Lebanon was my first) and I remember the movie I had watched was Steven Seagal’s “Under Siege“. I also remember the video store outside the theater where I picked up “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” from. Good days.


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Photos of Old Cinescape Theaters

Posted by Mark

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I managed to get my hands on some old photos of Cinescape (KNCC) movie theaters. Some of these photos were taken back when the theaters were still active while others were taken I am assuming before they were demolished. I wasn’t aware we had open air cinemas before, I knew of the open air drive-thru cinemas like the Ahmadi one but didn’t know we had seated open air cinemas. Must have been an interesting experience watching a movie outdoors in this heat.


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