November Issue 2014

By | Arts & Culture | Q & A | Published 5 years ago

How did you enter this field?

From an early age, I realised that I had an interest in observing visuals, situations and faces. I also had a thirst for travel, meeting new people and seeing new things.

I had initially wanted to become a painter. But then, in 2005, I saw a newspaper advertisement for admission in a film and TV course for the first batch of students for this discipline at the National College of Arts (NCA). I decided to give it a shot.

Photography was an essential component of the degree. However, I could not afford to buy my own camera at that time. Hence, after graduating in 2009, I bought my very first DSLR.

This particular photo essay is on Sindh, but you have travelled extensively all over the country. Do you have a personal connection to the province? And which other places or people have you found interesting to shoot?

I am an ethnic Baloch. My forefathers migrated from Balochistan to interior Sindh. For centuries, my family has been living in Umerkot, Tharparkar. My father was a doctor in the army, and I have nine siblings — one of whom is my twin. I have spent most of my teenage years in the Thar desert.

Sindh is a land of Sufism, spirits and shrines. It is the only province that is relatively liberal, and there are people of various ethnicities and religions living together. My soul feels connected to it, and this is the basis of my personality and identity.

So far, the places and people I have found most interesting to shoot have been from Balochistan, Sindh and the Baroghil Valley in Northern Pakistan.

Is there one photograph out of the series that is particularly meaningful for you? 

The photograph titled ‘Aziza,’ with the young girl looking into the distance on a boat. It is a photograph that will always remain close to my heart.

I had gone to the Keenjhar lake with a team to shoot for a music video. There, along with her father, Aziza took tourists around the lake on her boat. I was extremely frightened to get on that fragile boat. However, this little girl was so confident; she sat on the edge of the boat and was lost in her own thoughts. The boat was so shaky, but Aziza was neither bothered nor scared of losing her balance. She was not an ordinary child; she was unique and special.

Being on that boat with Aziza taught me something valuable: If we’re confident, determined and passionate, we can face whatever difficult situations we confront, live through them and survive gracefully.

This image also gives me the inspiration to keep striving as a photographer. It’s difficult to be an independent photographer in this country, unless you do wedding photography, which I absolutely dislike.

Who are your influences? And what kind of photographs do you enjoy taking the most?

I don’t follow anyone else’s techniques or ideas, and try to create my own. However, I truly admire Steve McCurry and Reza Deghati’s work.

I enjoy taking portraits; every face has its own story and beauty. I also enjoy photographing places very few people have been, that are far away or have extreme weather conditions.

Which projects are you currently working on?

At present, I am working on a photography book based on the historical sites of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I also have an exhibition in Dubai coming up soon. And, as always, my travels and photography continue on a personal level.

This feature was originally published in Newsline’s November 2014 issue.

 

The writer is a journalist and former assistant editor at Newsline.