tirana for the new york times

Back in August I spent a few days in Tirana, Albania, photographing a travel story for the New York Times. Here are a few of the pictures that didn’t make it into the print edition. During the trip I met some of the most down-to-earth and inspiring people I’ve met in a while – cafe owners, winemakers and cooks. Thanks for making my visit so enjoyable.


People pass by the Pyramid in Tirana, Albania. The Pyramid was opened as a museum to commemorate the late ruler Hoxha. After the collapse of communism it served as a conference center and even became a NATO office during the conflict with Kosovo. 

The Komiteti Cafe and Museum in Tirana, Albania, was started by Arber Cepani and features relics from Albania's past, like these wall hangings that Cepani says are found in every home in Albania. Cepani, the son of an Albanian diplomat who spent about 20 years living abroad, says he believes it is important to know the history of your country and learn from it. For the younger generation, the cafe is a place to learn about the communist past. For the older generation Cepani says it is pure nostalgia.

Flori Uka is a winemaker that runs Uka Farm, his family's farm that produces fruits and vegetables for use in their restaurant just outside of Tirana, Albania. 

Radio Bar in Tirana, Albania, is known for its cocktails and good music. The bar often hosts live musicians and DJs.

Arios Banushi, 10, (left) and his younger brother Albi Banushi, 5, ride the Dajti Express in Tirana, Albania, up the side of Mount Dajti. The Banushis are from Tirana and were visiting the cable car with their grandparents. The journey takes 15 minutes and is the longest cableway in the Balkans. 

View of Tirana, Albania, looking toward Rinia Park and Skanderberg Square from Sky Tower.

Barista Iris Ibro works at Komiteti Cafe and Museum in Tirana, Albania. The cafe was started by Arber Cepani and features relics from Albania's past. 

Hyrie Hoxha plants green beans at Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania. The farm produces vegetables and fruits that are used in the farm's restaurant. Flori Uka, who runs the family farm, also makes biodynamic wines that are served at the restaurant. 

The mosaic on the front of the National Historical Museum in Tirana, Albania, depicts a tribute to Albanian history from the Illyrians to World War II partisans. 

Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania

Customers pick a spot to eat dinner while looking out at the vineyard at Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania. 

Many apartment buildings throughout Tirana, Albania, are painted in bright colors after Edi Rama (former mayor of Tirana and now primer minister of Albania) led an initiative to brighten post-communist Albania. This building is in the Xhamlliku neighborhood. 

Alma Verushi (left) and Laureta Verushi run Taverna e Kasap Beut in Tirana, Albania. One of their specialities is burek, a flaky pastry that can be filled with cheese, vegetables or meat. 

Many government ministry buildings along Skanderbeg Square were designed by fascist-era Italian architects in the 1920s in Tirana, Albania.

Radio Bar in Tirana, Albania, is known for its cocktails and good music.

short and sweet portrait of lima


Just wanted to share a short travel video and some images I shot in Lima to accompany Nicholas Gill’s story “Lima’s Melting Pot” in the May issue of SilverKris, the travel magazine of Singapore Airlines. Here in the southern hemisphere the grey skies of winter are upon us. Missing those beautiful summer sunsets!








lima in national geographic traveler

I love shooting travel stories in Lima. While I may grumble about thieves, traffic and other undesirable characteristics of the city, while working on stories like these I am reminded of all its charming qualities and introduced to new people and places. Check out the iPad version of the story for more images.


Screen-Shot-2014-04-10-at-2.42.27-PM May 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler

aguaje in iquitos

Back in November I traveled to Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon to film for the Center for International Forestry Research. A fruit called aguaje grows on palms in the swamps near the city. In Iquitos alone 20 tons are consumed daily. Aguaje is a yellowish-orange fruit with a bit of a gritty texture. It’s eaten alone or used to make juices and ice cream and is rumored to boost libido and fertility. Others will tell you that it contains “feminine hormones that turn men gay.” The project took me from the swamps where it grows to aguaje wholesalers and the market. Here are a few images I made along the way.

Measuring carbon in the Peruvian Amazon

Aguaje at market in Iquitos, Peru

Aguaje wholeseller in Iquitos, Peru

peruvian chef brisa in virtuoso life


Back in September I had the opportunity to photograph Brisa Deneumostier. She’s an inspiring woman and chef. Her name means “breeze” in Spanish, and I love what she says about that on her website: “I try to flow freely toward the destination where my intuition guides me through the aromas and flavors of life.” This photograph was published in the October issue of Virtuoso Life.

gonzalette el asador at mistura

If you’ve never heard of Mistura, you should Google it. Mistura is an enormous food festival in Lima, Peru, in its 6th year. This year about 350,000 people attended, setting a new record. My favorite part of the fair is being able to try food that’s not from Lima. At Gonzalette the Arequipeños were cooking up alpaca and beef.

Gonzalette El Asador at Mistura in Lima, Peru

Gonzalette El Asador at Mistura in Lima, Peru

Gonzalette El Asador at Mistura in Lima, Peru

sushi at swissotel

A few photographs from a recent food assignment for Peruvian business magazine G de Gestión. Care for a little caviar on top of your sushi?

sushi cage at swissotel in lima, peru by elie gardner, freelance photographer in lima, peruSushi Cage at Swissotel

a new beginning

Yesterday Anita opened the doors of her restaurant Mi Terruño in Callao. This month the Peruvian Ministry of Transportation and Communications is expected to turn over 1730 acres of land to Lima Airport Partners for its US$800 million expansion plan for Jorge Chavez International Airport. Anita used to live on this land; she is one of about 700 families that were relocated to make way for the expansion. Plans are underway for the construction of a new runway and eventually the creation of an entirely new main terminal, control tower, shopping area and other commercial infrastructure.

Anita ran a restaurant and store in her former neighborhood, known as El Ayllu, for decades. Now she carries on the tradition, alongside three of her sisters, at this new property. Her carapulcra chinchana – a Peruvian stew of dried yellow potatoes, peanut, ají panca, pork and lots of other flavorful things – was the first I tasted. I don’t expect to find better. Hoping Anita finds lots of luck and customers in her new place.

Anita laughs as her godfather, sister and godmother officially inaugurate Mi Terruño with a sign advertising the menu.

barranco in national geographic traveler

I enjoyed a chance to hang around one of my favorite Lima neighborhoods for the February/March issue of National Geographic Traveler. I look forward to sharing more photos from the assignment in a couple of months.

national geographic traveler the neighborhood smart traveler