Photography is my detox | Sunday Observer

Photography is my detox

“The reason I enjoy photography is because it is not my full time job. If you are fully occupied with shoots, then in your spare time you would not want to do it. Also you won’t have the chance or the time to walk around and take pictures and do your own thing. I can do so because it is an escape for me. It’s more like a detox for me,” says Nazly Ahmed who has no intention of building his career around photography. In a recent interview with the Young Voice Nazly revealed what it takes to be a good photographer and how years of dedication and hard work can make a great difference in any profession.

What made you get interested in photography?

Photography started as a hobby with a camera phone in 2006. I started taking photographs and noticing things for my photographs. After getting a small camera, I seriously got into photography in 2012. I uploaded those pictures to Flicker. It was the thing those days. Back then it was social networking. When people started commenting on those pictures I started to feel more confident. It is only in 2012 that I got myself a proper DSLR camera.

How did you learn photography? Did you take any lessons or was it self-taught?

I watched YouTube videos and learnt from those and I still do. I have not studied Photography as a subject. From earlier days I always wanted to take good and different photographs therefore I had to...

...search and learn how to do that. When I bought a DSLR it was a learning curve. You see pictures taken by others from a DSLR and you tend to explore how to take similar shots with it. During that process a person learns quite a lot of techniques and it gives more understanding of what you actually need to capture.

What type of photography are you interested in?

Mainly, I am interested in landscape and architecture. Now I do a lot of street photography. In street photography, you cannot plan for it because you do not know what to expect. After I got in to it, I see things differently. I see different angles to my shots. You must have gone past a place but not have seen it the way I see it. I think people prefer street photography. It is something you can relate to and see every day.

I have also done documentary photography as well, especially for Vesak, Awurudu and for Ramadan as well.

How did you develop your hobby with time?

I am a web developer by profession and I work on my own. So I have time to spend on photography. I have limited myself to landscape photography. After I joined ‘Instameets’, which is a meet up of Instagrammers, we meet up, go on photo walks and take pictures of random things we see. That is when it got me interested in street photography and that is what I do, mainly. Instameets is what actually inspired me to do street photography. Earlier I had the problem of carrying the camera, walking along the streets and taking pictures, especially of people. But when I joined Instameets I gained confidence to talk to people, mingle with them and to get the picture I want. At the end of the day all we want is a good picture.

Some people believe that pictures should not be edited because they will lose credibility. What are your thoughts on that?

Initially I was in the same mindset that a picture should not be edited and if you are editing a picture you are not a good photographer. After getting a DSLR I realised that you need to edit a picture to a certain level. That is because the way our eyes see the colour and the way the camera sees the colour are a bit different.

In digital photography it is told, “Always shoot in the raw.” When you are taking a picture with a DSLR you can save a lot of information into that file. So you need to edit. Editing is a must to bring back all the details to make the picture better. But over editing is not acceptable. It also depends on what you take the photo for. If it is for a poster you want to make it more attractive, do a different artwork then edit to reach your aim. That is fine. It depends on what your purpose is.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take up photography as a hobby?

If you want to get into photography then try starting with what you have. You do not have to have a DSLR to do that. Start with your mobile phone. Try to learn first. There are lots of avenues to learn photography. I learnt from watching YouTube videos. Do not concentrate on the gear. Focus on what you capture. One of the most important facts is that to have a passion for photography you have to keep taking pictures, keep shooting. If you are not doing that then you will never grow as a photographer. Only practice will make you perfect. There are certain shots I have tried a couple of years back which did not work as I expected. Later I was able to capture them after much effort and practice.

You should also align yourself with what you are passionate about. Some like Wildlife Photography. So watch and build a profile along that line. Always start small and gradually build up. Make sure you build your own unique style.

How helpful is Social Media to a photographer?

I always try to merge my photography and social media. A shortcoming I see in some leading photographers is that they do not want to use social media to showcase their work. They are reluctant to get into social media. I think if you use social media correctly you can get direct and quicker feedback.

Since you are into street photography you must have experienced a lot of interesting situations. How would you describe that experience?

When you have a camera in hand, people mistake you for a foreigner. While I may not look like one, people think I’m Indian. They start talking to me in English and pose asking me to take a photo of them.

During Vesak I was taking photos in the middle of a roundabout and saw a cop walking towards me. I knew I was in trouble but he came to me and asked whether I could take a picture of the lanterns and decorations at the police station, which I did.

I love the fact that I take my camera and go out with a thing in mind to shoot but end up shooting something totally different. I once went to Pettah early morning to shoot at the Manning Market but accidentally came across a Ther Festival. I was able to capture some brilliant shots that day. Also one day it was pouring and I was expecting a very gloomy day but to my surprise I saw one of the most perfect sunsets. So you can never expect what will be in store of you. 

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