Last week I was part of a group of visual artists invited to take part in a 5 day workshop conducted by Iranian photographer Shirana Shabazi. Held at the Theertha Artists Collective in Borella, the workshop gave us all a chance to reflect on our work, share critique, and exercise our skill and imagination. Shirana is an amazing human being and artist. Check out some of her work at the MoMA site here
I’ve been shooting since I was 17 and the workshop gave me a chance to reflect on the kind of pictures I’ve taken over these years. From shooting travel portraits and landscapes, to magazine covers to weddings, and now doing mainly studio work of food and jewelry, my ideas around portraiture, post production and commercial photography have evolved.
Of late I’ve become uncomfortable with my collection of untitled travel portraits. In college, inspired by Steve McCurry-esque portraits of the exotic developing world, I too went to Kashmir looking for green eyed subjects like the Afghan Girl. Sharbat Ghula, a now burkha clad woman was unaware that she was the face of National Geographic magazine and Steve McCurry’s most iconic image for 17 years, until they located her in 2002.
Ideas of consent and subjects’ ownership over photos had been playing in my mind for a while. How does a photographer/visual artist lay claim to their creative vision of a subject they don’t know and still acknowledge their humanity and agency. I was more comfortable when my work moved to purely commercial settings, which had these protocols in place, while I gathered my thoughts on my past documentary/street portraiture.
As someone who struggles with phone cameras, for this project I armed myself with an iPhone7, an array of my old photographs in printed form, my laptop, and a red reflective board. Scroll below to catch a glimpse of my reflections and journey in this image industry.
Shooting almost 100% in commercial studio settings the last few years where I was happy to comply to creative briefs has also led me to reach saturation. The last image shot on my Nikon Df, is me taking a play at my studio work and hoping to open a new chapter reflective of my creative side.
The pictures were made into a booklet and an impromptu exhibition happened the next few days. The experience was really fulfilling and enjoyed working with this wonderful group of artists. Thank you to Menika Vanderpoorten for bringing us together, and Shirana Shahbazi for the mentorship!