January Issue 2015
Holding Life Still
“I took this photograph at Sea View in winter last year. Watching the sun go down by the beach is one of the most beautiful sights for those living in Karachi. Seeing the textures in the sky, with clouds forming around the horizon early evening, I could tell that this particular sunset would be special. Since it was the last sunset of the year, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of capturing it.
I headed out to the beach that evening with my friend and fellow photographer Ali Khurshid. It was buzzing with people. Ironically, the sunset in my favourite photograph from that evening was overshadowed by something else: A child chasing after her mother at the edge of the water, trying to keep up.”
“This photograph is from the Broghil Valley, which is close to the Tajikistan border. The people who live here are ethnic Tajiks. It is a place that I had wanted to visit for a long time. I stayed in Chitral for a few days, looking for someone who would take me. Many warned me not to go and told me strange stories about the area and its inhabitants. Due to the extreme climate and lack of vegetation, most of the people in this valley have nothing to do and smoke opium all day long. When I finally got there, a local told me that I was the first person from a city to visit them in the winter.
I don’t visit these places with the sole purpose of photography. I like to interact with the locals, meet interesting people and make new friends. I met Rashida, who was living with her grandmother and helping around the house. She had the most incredible eyes and I found her to be very photogenic. Although she was a bit shy at first, she became comfortable later on and posed calmly for this photograph.”
“I love this country and its landscape more than anything else in the world. For me, photography is a means of expressing one’s inner feelings about nature and one’s surroundings. I bought my first DSLR two years ago and try to shoot as much as possible when I get the time.
This photograph is from my second trip to Fairy Meadows. At an altitude of about 3,300 metres above sea level, the valley serves as a starting point to reach Nanga Parbat (8,126 metres), the world’s ninth highest mountain. Its sheer size and towering presence is startling.
We were enjoying our time at a nearby village, when suddenly this helicopter appeared out of nowhere. It was an amazing sight to behold, with Nanga Parbat towering in the background, and I am glad I was able to capture it.”
“In December last year, I travelled with friends to the Kalash Valley to attend the Choumos Festival. During our stay, a dear friend named Gul Kalash took us to her cousin’s home to capture a special occasion known as Gosni, in which toddlers are formally declared members of the family. They are dressed in traditional clothes, and relatives bring fruit and gifts to mark the occasion. This photograph of a mother and child is very special to me. I stood outside their room — watching and waiting to capture the right moment. The child looked so innocent and curious as he observed everyone around him. Suddenly, he looked up at me and I froze that moment in time.”
“Crossing the Attabad lake in Gilgit-Baltistan is an unforgettable experience. The emerald-green water first emerges in the midst of imposing mountains, which rise above it. The mood quickly changes, however, when you — along with your vehicle — prepare to load onto the ferry, which takes you across the lake to the far end of Gulmit.
In an exercise completely devoid of method and based solely on andaaza (guesswork), the vehicle — which is sometimes only a little smaller than the ferry — ramps up on two planks smaller in width than the tires of your hired car. With the image of a bulky truck sinking during an attempt to get back onto land from a ferry still fresh in my mind, the ‘loading’ activity provided for a few nervous moments. Thankfully, our jeep made it safely onto the little wooden boat, after which we hopped on as well.
Balance is the key once on the ferry. Too much weight on either side can result in the boat tipping over into the icy cold lake, and send you hurtling 358 feet below, according to one estimate.
A tunnel is now being cut into the mountains above the water, which will reconnect a section of the Karakoram Highway currently being blocked by the lake and speed up travel time.”
“I returned to Pakistan from Canada a few years ago to try my hand at short films. One of the reasons for returning was to support my mother, who was living here alone while the rest of the family was in the US. However, I realised fairly quickly how unaccepting the film industry is of newcomers without major connections.
In the meantime, I was trying out experimental photography. A good friend of mine introduced me to a leading fashion designer, who took a major liking to my work. He gave me my first opportunity at a fashion shoot, and has since single-handedly helped me make my career what it is today — a rare feat, as barely anyone helps anyone anymore.
It has been just a little over a year since I took up fashion photography. I have a passion for backstage photographs and live for candid madness, to catch something that nobody else’s eye has caught. I want to do something different, something off-beat that breaks the trend of the tiring old shoots that are visible everywhere. I see people playing it too safe. What is fashion photography if not for creating something truly sensual? I only hope to be able to keep pushing the envelope as far as I can.
This image is from my first shoot of Fashion Pakistan Week earlier this year. During the rehearsals, I was looking for shots with an interesting angle. While conversing with one of the models, I noticed the others on the ramp and decided to take a shot of their legs.”
This feature was originally published in Newsline’s Annual 2015 issue.