Capturing the mood and emotions of people in a single frame is an interesting concept for photographers. ‘Portraiture’ is defined as the art of creating portraits but in reality it is has much deeper ideas embedded and it is the photographers job to ensure the emotion in the photo is captured in a manner that captured the moment in time so its audiences can experience it.
One of our own, he works in Business Development and in his free time captures moments in time, AbdulAziz al Shukaili, a praiseworthy and talented photographer opened his first ever exhibition Hayat at the Rawaq Al Fiker — the golden-lit lobby of Oman Establisment for Press, Publication and Advertising in Madinat Al Ilam yesterday. The event was inaugurated by the Indian ambassador to Oman, Indra Mani Pandey, also in attendance was many other notable guests and visitors both locals and expats.
The exhibition displayed a number of high quality photographs taken by AbdulAziz during his visits to India and from around the Sultanate. A notable theme in his photographs was that they were all candid photographs of people in which he captured their realities in a single frame.
The series displayed pictures taken during various traditional Omani and Indian festivities along with images of people living their everyday lives. Through his photographs, AbdulAziz wanted the share with his audience a moment, emotion and feeling.
The name given to this exhibition and his series is Hayat which literally translates to ‘life of’ because through the photographs, he “wanted to stop time in that very moment and capture it on film forever and share it with my audiences. I wanted to give them an opportunity to also enjoy the precious moment is frozen in time. The audience gets the opportunity to embrace and experience the feelings of the subject in the photograph as every picture expresses a different emotion and feeling” AbdulAziz said.
During the initial planning of the exhibition, AbdulAziz planned to display the photos he took during his trip to India during the famous Indian festival of Holi. But with the exhibition dates falling in the month of November, it coincides with the much awaited Omani National Day. He then decided this would be the perfect time to not only make the exhibition about India, but also the Sultanate of Oman.
The Sultanate of Oman and India share a relationship of trade, culture and history dating back many centuries and the strong bonds between these two nations is beautifully captured in these photographs.
The Indian Ambassador, Indra Mani Pandey made sure to view every picture and hear from the photographer himself the stories about them. He said, “I enjoyed looking at all the pictures, they are very professionally taken and I would extend my compliments to Mr Al Shukaili for doing an outstanding job. He has displayed photos that were taken in India and of those taken in Oman. It is easy to see the contrasting themes within photos taken in these countries but also strongly visible is the similarities, not just of the brightly coloured clothing and the culture but also of the backgrounds and surrounding mountainous areas. In a few pictures, without being told it was difficult to figure out if the picture was taken in India or in Oman. All of the pictures are beautifully taken and somehow give one a sense of humanity, it not only connects to nations but people are able to connect with the photograph and the subject in it. One that did stand out though was the one of the women in red with her face covered. You can see one eye of hers and something about this photograph just grabs the attention of the audience.”
AbdulAziz’s interest in photography started in 2008, when he enjoyed his time taking photographs of this around him like nature, still life, animals and people. But something about candid portraiture photography drew and captured his attention.
“I started with taking photographs of my family, especially candid photographs of them especially focusing on their faces, after which I shifted my attention to birds. At the time I had pet birds that I enjoyed taking photographs of. I had realised that I had developed an interest in photography and once I was more confident, I started going out more, especially to the souk where I loved taking photos of the visitors, sellers and their interaction with each other. Many a times they would bring their families along to sell their produce and I would take photographs of them joining in with their families to keep their business going. I also enjoy going to Salalah to take pictures there as the beauty of that region is well known throughout the world.” He said.
Candid photography is not popular amongst other hobbyists, although the end results are stunning, it has its drawbacks and is difficult compared to taking photographs in a studio or of landscape. With just mere seconds to take the shot, one has to choose the right angle, change their camera settings, balance out light and get a good angle of their subject. AbdulAziz explains that, “Since it is candid, you see a moment and capture it and if missed, that moment once lost is lose forever”. Candid photography or portraits not only gives the audience a face to look at but also in the moment the camera captures the emotions, expressions story of the face on the other side of the camera.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this type of photography is that it is impossible to predict the final result of the image. Once taken it is what it is and the same moment cannot be repeated or recaptured. An individual does not have the time to recheck his shots after every click as by then the moment that is envisioned, is lost.”
The photographer shares his knowledge with us, he says, “A photographer needs to understand light, study about photography and how one balances, controls and uses the best lighting to their benefit. Within seconds you need to understand and choose your background / backdrop depending on the lighting in the area you need to make a quick decision and be able to take the perfect shot.”
He also explains how it is extremely important for the person taking the shot to be calm and composed and have a clear idea of what he wants to achieve with the photograph as then it will be easier to make decisions for his shot. It is also important to remember, when taking pictures of strangers that one should always seek the permission of the subject as it is important to get their consent as many individuals do not prefer to show their face or appear of camera.
The reason behind his love for portraiture is stemmed in his sentiments, “I capture the photographs about people because I empathise with them and feel the need to capture their emotions in the moment to save forever. I feel like photographing different people is very interesting because it captures a variety of emotions.”
The beauty of portraiture photography is that every face is different, every line on their face, the tilt of their eyes and the movement of their lips and brows expresses a distinct emotion and a different story every time. There is a story behind every smile, cry or any other expression.
For those interested in getting to experience the emotions of these still images and see the work of the talented AbdulAziz, the exhibition is open every day till the November 16 at the mentioned location. To see the works of this talented self-taught photographer, follow him on Instagram: @aziz125