Anas Kamal Documents the Hazards of Lime Quarrying in Egypt

All photos by Anas Kamal. Used with Creative Commons permission.

The reality of working conditions around the world remains one of the most important subjects explored through documentary photography. So it’s only but proper for us to put the spotlight on projects as poignant as The White Mountain by Anas Kamal, which reveals to us the harsh environment that white lime quarry workers find themselves in, day in and day out. If you’re looking for fine examples of documentary photography projects today, we’re sure this one is worth the look.

Egypt-based freelance photographer Anas Kamal shot these white lime quarry scenes in a remote location in the Minya Governorate of Upper Egypt. Workers extract the white bricks from the mountain from sunrise to sunset, with the obvious health hazard that comes with being covered in clouds of white lime dust. Their only protection are sunglasses to shield their eyes and old shirts to cover their faces.

Most of these workers, our featured photographer stressed, are young men who haven’t completed their education yet. The machinery they use puts them at risk of losing a hand or foot, as it doesn’t have any safe handling procedures. The work itself exposes them to serious respiratory diseases — as can be expected with all that dust they get enveloped in.

All the trouble and work hazard, Kamal said, for a measly amount of no more than $2 per day. How they can live decently off that amount is a mystery; how that could potentially pay for their medical expenses is even more upsetting to imagine.

Series like The White Mountain mirror the main motivation behind documentary photography: to open our eyes to the social issues and realities that we normally do not see everyday. Kamal’s work does this really effectively with the stunning colors, outstanding composition, and gripping human element. It’s also worth noting that the series makes a fine example of how an artistic touch can also work for documentary reportage.

Check out Anas Kamal’s Behance portfolio to see more of his work.