How DID we all become ‘photographers?’

PosterInfo

How many of you have taken at least one photograph on a smart device?
If you haven’t .. please feel free to redirect yourself to the following page: why you should own a smart device.

For those of you have, hallelujah! Most of you have probably even tried to upload a couple on instagram with clever hashtags and tacky filters. Yes I said tacky ..
That does not make you any less of a photographer, but rather makes you believe less in planning over a photograph and more in the edit. Editing is often a skill, that many do not have the eye for. As a graphic designer, who has loved photography for over 5 years I still look back at stuff from last year and wonder what I was thinking!
The easiest way out is to keep it natural. Play with the camera itself rather than the artificial filters they give you easy access to. However in order to understand photography, one must know of its history, which brings us to our topic.Print

As of 2015, we are 7.3 billion people on this planet. 30% being youth, those born and raised into the technology generation.
That is more than 2.2 billion kids on this planet who have been using smart phone cameras and have no idea where they originated, nor how easy it is to take pictures now!

Print
With social media in the hands of 85% of fifteen year olds today, they cover more than 37% of instagram and snap chat’s user base. For that reason, for a recent project for an information design course, we were given the freedom to chose a topic of our choice. As someone who truly began to appreciate photography even more once I knew its history, I thought might as well teach the generation after me as well, as quickly & briefly as possible. After all it isnt their fault they were born in such ‘easy’ times ..
Hence my poster was completed, numerous edits and protypes later, this one proved to be most effective amongst the target audience.
You may go back up and take a closer look at it, constructive criticism is always welcome!

Distracted by the temporary, because the permanent frightens me.

Salwa Ali

Yes, the title sound a little dramatic, but by the end of this post I’m pretty sure it’ll make sense to you.

When it comes to listing my inspiration, its tough deciding. Most times I find that I have already executed an art piece, without any research done. In a world where social media is always at our finger tips, scrolling down your instagram feed is a form of constant inspiration. Whether you were looking for it or not, by seeing art from all around the world at your finger tips, you are probably going to have some of your own ideas by the end of the feed. With your own touch, and a mix of everyone else’s, everyone plays a role at being part of your inspiration.

For that reason, for my last project, I forced myself to find inspiration that I would not come across my instagram. I went back to art history to see what inspired the ones before us. It was then when I finally read about Frida Kahlo. We’ve all seen her face, we all noticed the unibrow but most of us don’t know what inspired Frida Kahlo’s paintings. At least I didn’t until I did some research. Kahlo had come across an injury during her medical studies. After being bedridden, her mother had left her a canvas to keep her entertained, letting loose the prodigy we know today. What inspired Frida most was herself, as she found herself often alone, hence the self portraits. However, with the use of dramatic symbolism & bright colors, the influence of her Mexican culture was very apparent. Perhaps an unintentional inspiration?

The purpose of Frida’s introduction was to lead you to the following. At times regardless of what you think inspires you, there is always an extra element in your art that you may have not deliberately added. Ideas that you have overthought, or scenarios that you have lived over and over always find their way to your canvas, it’s inevitable.

Salwa Ali

On this last project, the objective was to self reflect. Digging deep often gets uncomfortable, however, is often necessary to create ‘good’ art.  Being born & raised in Saudi Arabia everything I am today is a product of that. Regardless of how attached I may be to this land, deep down I know I love Pakistan just as much, even if I may not relate to it in the same way. However, without the mix of culture I am often exposed to, I wouldn’t know what made me different. Nonetheless, different can often become a little tricky..

When i’m in Jeddah, my life at home, the way my parents raised me & many other things differs me from my Saudi friends. On the other hand, when I’m in Pakistan, the way I’ve grown up around arabs, my habits, my accent, even the way I think is different to those who live there. So in conclusion, when I’m in both places, I don’t perfectly fit in in either. At times I don’t know which place to call ‘home’. As cliche as this sounds, my heart says Jeddah but my mind forces me to digest it’s Pakistan.

Salwa Ali

The reason I say ‘forces’ is not because I don’t want to call it home, but rather having always seen it as a temporary home, when we visit family is just what I got used to. However, the truth is Jeddah is what is temporary, & heading back to Pakistan is just a matter of time. Due to legal regulations, the moment my father retires, he will no longer have a company sponsoring him here in Jeddah, hence our ticket back ‘home’.

For that reason, being loss between cultures often acts as an extra tone of paint on my canvas. Often it is the only shade on my canvas.

For 20 plus years, I’ve heard my father tell me to be grateful for the time we’ve got to spend here. Grateful for the lifestyle, & lessons we’ve learned, that we may or may not have learned back home. However, I find myself constantly fearing the day we have to go back. The day we actually have to deal with the political situations of the country, rather than just having to read them in a news paper. Until then I am in denial, I am going around in circles, keeping myself distracted by the temporary, because the permanent frightens me.

DSC_0019

Photographs dated February 2015.

Winner of Create & Inspire 2012

Create & Inspire 2012

In the summer of 2012 I was granted the title ‘Winner of Create & Inspire’. The theme of the competition that year, was focused on the islamic pilgrimage, Hajj. Lucky for me, I had perfumed perfumed Hajj that same year where I had first starting taking photographs. At this point photography was just a mere method to take pictures of the journey, and not at all an artsy tool. Towards the end of Hajj I happened to sit right next to the woman in that picture. At first it was very difficult to snap a picture of her without her knowing, however I thought i’d take a risk .. she smiled right at me!

If at that moment someone had told me, this old woman would be the reason behind:
– falling in love with photography
– changing my education plans from business to graphic design
– going on a 17 day expedition all around the United Kingdom thanks to Offscreen Expeditions
– AND getting my photography exhibited at the British Museum?

Never in a million years would I have believed that. She later inspired me to write one of my best pieces titled  “A Million Emotions

I guess I owe her a lot.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.24.24 PM

“Award winning photograph for Crossway Foundation’s acclaimed competition, Create & Inspire& expeditions programme targeting UK and Middle Eastern youth.  A London-based charity delivering arts and education initiatives for young people across the UK and Middle East, with a regional search to find the most talented young artists, photographers and filmmakers.”

Exhibited at :

The British Museum – Addis Gallery : (January 2012 – May 2012)  Click here for Details

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.22.11 PM

Feel free to read more about the creative journey on  http://www.offscreenexpedition.com/2012_uk/blog/by/118

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.31.52 PM