Miguel Angel Sánchez

Ulu Pamir

Miguel Ángel Sánchez traveled in 2012 with his studio to Ulu Pamir, Turkey, a far place in the middle of Turkish Kurdistan, hidden between mountains with very hard winters and connected by a tortuous path to Van Lake. 30 years ago, this land was the witness of the arrival of a group of unusual people with unusual features.



These people, originally from Kyrgyzstan, came walking from far away, from Pamir, with the promise of a better and safer life hosted by the Turkish government, avoiding the war with USSR.

30 years later, people from this place fight against the government´s abandonment and harassment of the PKK guerrilla warfare.

Miguel Ángel portrayed the inhabitants from this small village and their will to preserve their roots and traditions despite being far away from their original land.




Miguel Ángel Sánchez (Madrid 1977), Spanish photographer based in Cairo since 2009.

For years he combined his development as an artist with his work in a commercial photography studio, until, in 2009, he decided to completely turn over to his creative side and opened his own photography studio in Cairo (Egypt).

His studio in Cairo is the base where he works and prepares projects developed in Egypt for the last four years, but he is also a study itinerant photographer who takes his workspace to any corner of the world: Asia, Middle East or black Africa. The Gaddafi war in Libya, the Ulu Pamir besieged by the PKK in Turkish Kurdistan, the Gaza Strip after Israel bombing and Lebanon after Hariri are some of the ports reached by Studio Al Asbani.

Miguel Ángel Sánchez also combines his work as a studio photographer with photojournalist and cameraman in conflict zones where he covered the war in Libya, the Egyptian revolution and the Gaza Operation Pillar of defense, among others.

His work has been published by national media such as El País, and international as The New York Times, Le Monde, New Yorker, Photo Raw, La Lettre de la Photographie, etc.


Related links

Miguel Ángel Sánchez


18 thoughts on “Miguel Angel Sánchez – Ulu Pamir”

  1. The first photo left me smiling — in the way I respond to something beautiful and human. The the six photos continued to hold me rapt with attention loving the textures and, again, the simply human display. I would love to see these in print (and have one). Starting from number 7 or 8, instead of surprising me, the images become repetitive. Beautiful but less captivating than the first six. I was glad when the last image caused me to smile again.

  2. tonyhayesimages

    Love that lighting. Reminds me of Caravaggio, especially images 4, 10, 17 and 18. Image 19 is also great.

  3. Beautiful work Miguel Angel. These are like paintings….Love the shadows and mood in all of these.
    With a good printer they will look amazing!

    One question and hopefully you will be answering ;-)
    What was your light set up? you mention in your artist statement a “tortuous path” getting there I assume?
    that’s why I’m asking….must be minimal given the circumstances….

  4. Just gorgeous!…and yes, Caravaggio is appropriate and seems to be an inspiration with the entirety of Miguel’s aesthetic :)))…

    but what i really love about this series (and all the work on his website) is that he reimagines both portratiture and document, or rather marries and conflates the too…to pull from the waking world of document and plant into the aestheticized and often ‘detached’ world of portraiture to mix a marriage of both than both elevates and challenges the assumptions of both document and portrait/art….

    in other words, the stillness of portraiture and the river-rife of stuff that is environmentally document…this is very powerful in the series on Palestine (havent seen that kind of ‘documentary’ portraiture of Palestinians yet)…

    and i love the humor overriding most of the ‘nobility’ of these portraits…and, as always, the maps of history contained upon the parchment of our faces…

    spectacularly beautiful and thoughtful work…

    congratulations and thanks for sharing! :))

  5. Yah, what Bob said.

    Thanks yet once again Bob Black, for being able to put into words what many of us are feel when all we can manage is “that’s awesome”.

  6. Plenty of Goya, El Greco and Rembrandt in here as well.

    Great, great portraits. The mystery in the essay is driven mostly by the lighting, also by the exotic costumery and the rough, rugged interiors. It’s mystery-through-technique and maybe even through style, but I find myself asking no questions, no need to go any further into the series. This is something not usually happening to me in the face of greater mysteries from bigger, more ambitious stories.

    As a series of portraits I’m entirely satisfied, although the idea of portraying “their will to preserve their roots and traditions” needs more than just costumes, as fascinating as they may be.

  7. Until I looked at the website I was sort of going for these (although my main interest was in wondering how I would have acheived this setup/look), then I got bored very very quickly. Repetition.
    Dont get me wrong; its a lovely balanced setup. 10 out of 10. go to the top of the class.
    And there are some lovely models (for thats what they are being used as here) to work with.


    The first thing I ever remember learning from the photographer I studied under was the saying

    ” A perfectly exposed picture of nothing is still just a picture of nothing”

    It has always stayed as my main focus(pun intended).

    I prefer how serrano did his homeless set, which was essentially gorilla shooting with a portable studio rig as well, but Juxtaposed with his Klan portraits it had real power and no real stylistic
    signature muscling in on the experience. Or the simplicity of seido keita’s portrait work.

    and echoing what jeff said; this has nothing to do with the statement made. Not least because it just looks like everything else on the authors site.
    Just my morning coffee’s worth. Please feel free to ignore :))


  8. Maybe the pictorial age old technique praised by many, but it is all strangely lifeless and a bit listless too, only #12 (splendid) and 16 have something coming from the subject where the photographer is confronted in an actual way.

  9. It reminds me greatly of certain early 20th portraiture works I have seen of west and northwest Alaska Native people shot by Edward S. Curtis and some others whose names now evade – except that the lighting is more dramatic here.

    I found the entire work superb. It speaks strongly to me. I would take issue with Jeff’s closing sentence -these are not “costumes.” This is the traditional dress of the people, whether they wear it all the time or not.

    Then there is the final portrait, tagged on at the end of images that seem to be of peace. Strong statement.

  10. @ ANTON:

    Well I do not know where to post this… Today, April 7th, is DA opening of Yakuza in Belgium. Wish I can be there… not possible today, but it will be for the next one… Have a great day wiht friends and other photographers. What is your feeling about hanging that long term project and big images, in the wall near your home in Hasselt?

    A très bientôt!

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