Frances Freyberg

Syria Before the War, as photographed by Menlo Park resident Frances Freyberg, is the featured exhibit at the Portola Art Gallery in June. A reception for the photographer will be held on Saturday, June 11, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

The vibrant color photographs feature historic monuments and portraits of daily life from Freyberg’s 2008 travels through Syria. Highlights include Palmyra’s Temple of Bel; Aleppo’s Citadel, Great Mosque, and souqs (markets); and Le Krak des Chevalier — all destroyed or damaged in Syria’s civil war.

AllepoGreatMosque_FreybergStrategically located along the Silk Road, at the crossroad between east and west, Syria has been home over the centuries to Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Umayyads, Mongols, Turks, and French. Its ancient sites include Roman ruins, Crusader castles, medieval citadels, and some of the oldest mosques in the world.

“I’d always wanted to visit the Middle East, particularly Egypt, so I made sure that it was part of my itinerary on my around-the-world trip in 2008,” explained Frances.  “At the time, Intrepid Travel (an Australian tour company) ran a three-week small group tour through Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. While there was more that I wanted to see, such as Israel, Lebanon, and Iran, the tour seemed like a good start to exploring the region.”

Frances spent five days in Syria, carrying a point-and-shoot Canon digital camera with a 12x zoom, plus a stash of memory cards, batteries, and a backup hard drive. “Although there’s a lot more that I could have done with a better camera, it was easier to approach people for photos — or take my camera into sensitive areas — with a smaller pocket camera.”


While traveling, Frances shared weekly photos, as well as historical and cultural information about the countries she visited on a blog she created, WheresFrances. “My goal was to take and share photos that would make people want to get out and explore for themselves,” she said.

Frances has traveled extensively and we asked her what it was like traveling in a Muslim country. “As I try to do in all countries, I showed respect and interest in the culture, dressed appropriately for the places I was visiting, and made it a point to introduce myself as American. I almost always found people to be welcoming and eager to share their country.

“While images of war-torn Syria fill the media, many people are unfamiliar with the rich cultural heritage and beautiful art and architecture that has been destroyed. I hope these photographs help people see a side of Syria they didn’t know.”

The Portola Art Gallery is located at the Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Rd., Menlo Park.

Photos by Frances Freyberg (c) 2008; used with permission. Top to bottom: Damascus souq, Aleppo Great Mosque, Temple of Bel Palmyra

{ Be the first to comment }

Photographer Frances Freyberg captures Sierra scenes, covering 100 miles on foot

Earlier this summer, I spent a week and a half in the Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park areas, hiking and taking photographs. I covered more than 100 miles of trail on foot, with either my DSLR or my Canon point-and-shoot (depending on weather and distance), and my iPhone — and sometimes all three. My […]

Click to read more →

Frances Freyberg photographs of Japan on display at Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park

“Japan Revisited” is the name of an exhibit of Frances Freyberg photographs on display at the Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park through April. A reception for the photographer — a frequent contributor to InMenlo — is scheduled for Saturday, April 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The vibrant color photographs feature landscapes, cityscapes, shrine scenes and […]

Click to read more →

Frances Freyberg photographs of sacred places on exhibit at Mercy Center Gallery

Menlo Park-based photographer Frances Freyberg currently has an exhibit, “Sacred Places of the World”, at the Mercy Center Gallery. The exhibit runs through February 28; the Gallery is located at 2300 Adeline Dr. in Burlingame; hours are Monday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The exhibit includes photographs from across the Middle East, […]

Click to read more →

Menlo Park photographer France Freyberg’s work on display at two local galleries

Fans of Menlo Park-based photographer Frances Freyberg who can’t wait for her new exhibit to open at the Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park on February 1, can currently see photos from her worldwide travels on display at the Mercy Center Gallery. The Mercy exhibit, which runs through Feb. 28, includes scenes from Frances’ travels […]

Click to read more →

Photographer Frances Freyberg captures local scenes

“Flowers, Fields and Forests – Photographs from the Bay Area and Beyond,” a collection of images by photographer Frances Freyberg of Menlo Park, is on display at the Portola Art Gallery through August 31. Frances, profiled by InMenlo in June, is best known for her travel photography, but this exhibit will highlight many local landscapes, […]

Click to read more →

Frances Freyberg: Following her passion for photograhy around the world

There seems to be a Menlo Park meme: Young person finds success at a local tech giant only to decide that cubicle culture, no matter how well-paid, is not for them. So it was with Menlo-based photographer Frances Freyberg, who steeled her nerves and jumped feet first into her two passions — travel and photography. […]

Click to read more →