Peter Sanders was born in London in 1946. His professional career in photography began during the mid-sixties where he photographed most of the major stars in the music business including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, the Rolling Stones etc.
Towards the end of the 1970′s, Sanders’ attention turned inward which set him on a spiritual search to India and then eventually to the Muslim world where the spiritual beauty of Islam left an indelible impression upon him. After his return to England, he embraced Islam.
At the time, back in 1971, photographs of the Hajj were quite rare. Peter Sanders was granted special permission to photograph the sacred places; a decision that still amazes him. “It was pretty unique for a Westerner to have taken pictures of the Hajj. I had to slog from offices to offices in Jeddah and Makkah and eventually I found a man that had the authority to grant me permission. A lot of people didn’t want to take responsibility at the time, and they were generally not too keen on photography anyway. But this man was in a position to authorize me and he did so purely on trust.” The images appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer, among many other major journals in recognition of their rareness.
Continuing to travel far and wide, Peter Sanders has built up a photographic archive of well over a quarter of a million transparencies from forty countries around the world. His first book ‘In The Shade of the Tree’ (now in its second reprint) gives a wonderful insight into the diversity of the Muslim cultures around the world whilst his second book ‘The Art of Integration, Islam in England’s green and pleasant land’, shows an alternative picture of Muslims integrated completely within British society. From Eton, Sandhurst, District Judges and the House of Lords, to supermarkets, transport workers, poets, artists and musicians.
His third book ‘Meetings with Mountains’ is the result of a forty year project, about the extraordinary scholars and living saints that Peter has had the privilege to meet during his forty years of travelling. His empathy with both spiritual masters and ordinary people have opened many doors, allowing him to be the first person to photograph them.
Peter was granted a commission by the King of Morocco’s Ministry to document all the important mosques, madrassah and zawiyas of Morocco and was given access to the whole of Morocco over a four-year period. This archive of images will be edited to produce a series of beautiful books and an exhibition.
He has been exhibiting his work around the world for the past ten years and his fine art prints continue to be sought after. For the last three years, Peter Sanders Photography began the immense task of scanning and thus digitalizing his vast collection of over a quarter of a million transparencies.
Main image (c) John Gulliver
All other images (c) Peter Sanders