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Zooming in to see the beauty of small creatures

There are over one million documented bug species around the world and many of these critters live right outside your door. The bulk of us regard them as repulsive animals and they are rarely regarded as a source of beauty. Others are even puzzled as to what they contribute to the ecosystem.

For photographer Hamed bin Saud al Busaidy however, there is so much more to these creatures than meets the eyes. Hamed is one of the few in Oman that specialises in minutiae — zooming in on insects and other small creatures in order to put in the spotlight these animals’ eye colour, wing span, body shape and everything else we often do not see.

Despite the considerable effort, the hefty materials, the lengthy search, and the complex set-up, he says that this is the only style of photography that interests him.

Over time, Hamed’s interest also started to pique the curiosity of other people and he now enjoys a good following on social media because of his unique content.

What thrust you into the world of photography?

As I carry on the profession of my late cousin Hamad al Busaidy, who founded the first Omani photography forum at the time, my commitment to photography may be somewhat different from that of other photographers. I used to own a basic camera. I was motivated to enter the business with the same enthusiasm and passion that he had for photography when he passed away in 2009. I chose to illuminate fauna that conceals subtleties that cannot be seen with the unaided eye as a change of pace.

In truth, I have worked in several fields of photography, including documentation. I also have several works in various sectors. But, through my social media profiles, I try to keep the majority of my work focused on the natural world.

In this particular genre of photography, what has been the most challenging or risky part?

Actually, there aren’t many hazards in Oman. We constantly seek the advice of professionals in the field of insects and reptiles on how to handle these critters. These hazards are usually avoided. In our search expeditions, there can be a few minor bites from insects like wasps, bee flies, and mosquitoes.

As a nature photographer, what’s the most important knowledge one must possess before embarking on any trip?

A wildlife photographer cannot be ignorant of natural organism behaviour. Documenting some unique behaviours, for example, some insects are present at a given time of year and some follow a certain behaviour in certain months, is considerably facilitated by information and understanding in this area. In order to benefit the audience of the image when presenting each work, it is also vital to know the types and names of insects.

The vibrant colours and the details of your work have been immense. How do you curate what you put out in public?

I always prefer it when my works aren’t only documentation of insects, but also have an aesthetic quality, whether it’s showcasing the intricacies or highlighting a certain habit or colour that insects have. As the photographer cannot modify the colour of the bug, I always attempt to develop the work in an aesthetic manner that fascinates the audience while retaining the colours of the original insect.

What is the good and bad things about making your work accessible to social media?

I am not looking for fame, but rather to promote knowledge in this sector and correct some misinformation. When showing bug works, we constantly meet certain drawbacks since the audience for this sort of photography is too small. We want to spread the word about it.

To some extent, sure, and we always amend public facts. For example, the news of the expansion of the extremely high toxicity black widow spider, also known as the red-back spider was wrong. It is a local peaceful spider with numerous species in Oman. Fortunately, some concerned parties and people contacted us and asked us to refer them to professionals for more precise information.

Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I am now looking for a technological technique to document a larger number of insects from the Omani environment. I wish that the institutions here collaborate by doing scientific and technological study on this subject, rather than focusing on specific pests, because all insects are considered important to the environment and to humans. I have attempted to contribute to various special publications on Omani wildlife, and we have published a technical book on Omani wildlife linked with the Photographic Society of Oman. It is probable that several versions of such technical and instructional resources would exist in this subject.

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