Lorenzo Meloni

Moonlight Yemen

Walking around the streets at night gives the feeling of travelling back in time, to a place where time has stopped.

The infrastructures here are few and the electricity is scarce – at night it is possible to see the stars on the horizon.

Mountains shield from the scorching desert wind and the muezzin’s chants from all the minarets strike you with strength and melancholy, reminding you that you are in a place where religion still dictates ordinary, everyday life.

Yemen is a Muslim country, a charming reality which goes un-noticed when reading about terrorism and kidnapping related chronicles in the newspaper.

During Ramadan, before dawn, you can still eat and smoke a cigarette on the misty tops of the Haratz mountains or in the Gulf of Aden, gazing at the red sea.

At sunrise everybody goes home to shelter from the heat. People stop chewing khat in order to halt the amphetamine intake, otherwise sleeping would be difficult.

At sunset, everybody gets together again – the streets are now filled with people. Jobs are few and staying at home means dealing with screaming kids and bossy elderly. It is more pleasant to be outside and meet someone to eat Salta with, or to chew khat, or to complain about the

When Ramadan ends, daytime activities return as do daily issues – young adults looking for employment to support their children and wife; wives walking miles to fetch non-existent water; a man going to the market to buy an AK-47, angry because things never change.




Lorenzo Meloni was born in 1983 in Rome, studied at the “Scuola Romana di Fotografia” for three years, focusing his interests on the Middle East and the Italian youth underground scenarios. H
e has reported on major world issues such as those regarding Palestinan refugees and Yemen. Other works include retrospectives on the Italian techno-rave and hip-hop youth scenarios.

Related links

Lorenzo Meloni


25 thoughts on “Lorenzo Meloni – Moonlight Yemen”

  1. For me, the level of quality of the images in this essay vary a bit too wildly… Nos. 1, 7, 16, and 20 are absolutely brilliant, Nos. 5 and 18 are in the running, keep the mood, and don’t weaken the best ones too much, but most of the remaining images simply don’t live up to that promise and create a fragmentary and uneven feeling… after seeing that fabulous opening shot, I kept hoping, praying, that each subsequent photo would be in the same league… alas, not to be. As DAH has said with reference to Sebastian’s Quilombo essay, a few sweet notes can carry the melody, and not all images in an essay are equally powerful, but in this case, for me at least, the melody is not sustained enough. A pity, because I really love those four to six high notes.

  2. Lorenzo, congratulations. This is brilliant stuff. Sidney, perhaps the sheer brilliance of the ones you mention overshadows the others somewhat, but overall I love this. 1 and 20 in particular are stunning.

    I love the technique here. Deep depth of field, accurate white balance, moderate angle of view. Stunning work.

  3. I really love the first and the last images as well and basically concur with what Sidney just wrote. Many of the middle images have a similar quality of light that started to wear on me.

  4. Solid work Lorenzo. What comes through with these selections is a sense of place; especially via the light. Stark light bulbs in the night. 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 16 & 20 carry the piece.

  5. , for me they differ because they can really draw this charming reality that you mention.
    The first photograph is very nice, has the intense colorful surrealistic approach , I really like it,
    the rest I like for their silence.

  6. Pingback: moonlight yemen « ettagirl


    yes, that’s about how i feel as well…why is it on Burn if it isn’t perfect? well, cause there just ain’t nothin perfect out there…at least not that we know about…Lorenzo insisted that his essay be a work in progress and not to be considered a finished essay…of all the work we see, this is in the top 25% i would say in terms of work in progress and that i feel will go much much further…having 4-6 strong images and one killer (the lead/opening shot) is a damned good start….i always edit fairly loose for Burn..i think i have mentioned that before…i like for the readers to throw stuff out..play a bit….if i were being total dah, i would have this down to about 4 images….

  8. There’s chiaroscuro, and then there is tenebrism. Meloni has shown us the difference between what most people think of when they consider Caravaggio, and what Caravaggio was attempting in his foreboding, murky, sensuous best. His dark images really excite me in the way he has shown how well-grounded he is in knowing the difference. I can’t wait to see more.

  9. Pingback: lorenzo meloni – moonlight yemen | The Click

  10. There are some phenomenal images in this essay. I think what I like most about them as a series is the visual consistency, which revolves around the color and especially the geometry found in the majority of the compositions. Image #8 I would edit out of thsi group – it’s the one that feels out of place. Your landscapes, and even some of the details have this grander scheme, Burtynsky-esque quality to me, and #8 lacks this. This work feels fresh and borne from a clear vision – really enjoyed it. To Jim Powers – I’d be interested to see your photographs…

  11. Pingback: Photography Links for The Week of 21 October 2011 | N O T I O N

  12. There is a longer edit of this on Lorenzo’s site. I like it.

    David, you are always pushing for less, but often times I want to see more. I have no issue at all with “weaker” photographs mixed in with very strong ones. Like a musical composition, there are often the little hooks that anchor the piece, and tie it together, and then there are the intervals between. There is no doubt that leaving in only the gems increases the wow factor. But is the aim to wow, or to communicate? Is less really more, or is less just less?

    On my personal gallerys, I find my photographer friends more impressed with the short edits, where I leave only the strongest photographer type stuff, while my non-photographer friends appreciate much longer edits. I appreciate photographs that show me what sometihing feels like, but also appreciate photographs that just show me what something looks like.

  13. Cool!

    I really enjoy photos 1, 4, 7, and 11. What I felt most when seeing this work was the whole man-made world theme.

    In 1 you’ve got the metal workers with incredible colors/reflections shaping raw materials in to useful things.
    You have the skeleton of a building in 4 which resonates with the stone in 11.. which in turn resonates with the man in 7.

    Nice work

  14. The first image got me pretty excited, because not only is it excellent, as others have stated, but it spoke to me of Captain America, which I found to be nice touch of irony in a story about Yemen. The second image grabbed me, too, and made me think of the moon. The third gave me a feeling like being in Mexico on a hot night. Number 4, just eerie, strong and ambiguous. A symbol of construction and development or stagnation?

    Beyond this, images 7, 8 and 12 resonated most strongly. The themes of some of the others struck me as good, but they felt too detached from the subject to me.

    I am wondering about photo 20, referenced by ommphoto, since the essay stops on photo 19. Did an image get cut after the essay went up? If so, then images referenced by # before that cut was made could be out of whack now.

  15. GORDON…

    i edit very loose on Burn, at least for my tastes….and we can only publish what the photographer gives us…it often happens that photographers leave out material we would have published if we knew about it..we literally do not have the time nor the inclination to be private detectives and try to imagine what was not sent to us… …we go with what is submitted to us…we have considered dropping submissions and taking everything from private interviews, workshops etc where i can really really know where a photographer is coming from…involved in a project from the get go…if i did not have my own work to do and was a full time editor, i think this is what i would do…Gordon, i cannot be a perfect editor here…if i were, i would have to sacrifice my own work…so Burn is a bit of a compromise in one sense …on the other hand if i were a full time editor and did not do my own work , i am afraid that would be even worse…i will just keep doing the best i can at both worlds..


    the strongest for me are:1, 2, 5, 19 all the rest are what i call “similars”

    cheers, david

  16. David
    I hope you did not interpet my comment as in any way critical of your role in editing burn. On the contrary, your role and skills in that regard are central to the success of burn.
    I was merely thinking out loud about the idea that every image needs to be as strong as every other within an essay.

    I was also thinking out loud about the intended audience for a piece, and how as photogrpahers, myself anyway, tend to react more to the photography rather than the content. I often buy Vanity Fair magazine, mostly for the portraits. I look through fashion magazines, even though I have no interest in fashion.

  17. The first image is amazing, the colours, the compo, there is a whole story in just that image. It does put the bar up pretty high for the rest of the essay, and there are no other images with the same impact, although I really like #10 and 19.
    Congratulations Lorenzo for getting posted on burn and for the story !

  18. Lovely, very visceral quality to the image set. HDR composites are especially pertinent to night scenes. Often times one exposure just can’t capture the fantastic amount of light pollution in our bustling cities. These images are able to achieve that.

Comments are closed.