Talking Images

A group of artists recently organised one day photography exhibition in Srinagar with an aim to provide platform to budding photographers. Known as Art–Surpassing its Boundary (ASIB), the group comprises of young photographers, painters and poets. Bilal Handoo meets the photography enthusiasts who pocketed an exhibition to showcase their own works and that of others.   

Art Surpassing Boundaries, the enthusiastic photographers at the event.
Art Surpassing Boundaries, the enthusiastic photographers at the event.

Some clicks stir up. Few frames fascinate. And certain portraits overwhelm. These ‘sense-stimulating-scenes’ are explicit in a one day photography exhibition in the lawn of Hotel Shahenshah at Boulevard Road Srinagar. Otherwise cold and pale, the lawn dotted with pictures displaying landscapes and mountains looks vibrant. Some 50 photographic works of 10 amateur photographers of the valley have apparently set spring in an otherwise wintry lawn.

Among the photographs, one showcasing a snowbound hut with a withered tree nearby remains the centre of attraction. The picture is an aerial view of Betaab Valley, Pahalgam. A white carpet of snow around the hut suggests desolation. And inside the hut, a half-widow is waiting for reunion with her disappeared husband. Lines from a poem titled ‘Dolesome Voice’ by Amreen Naqash, a promising young poet, are inscribed on the picture to further bring out the pain:

The bride left with no colours

Habilimented in the velvety white

Close to the nature,

Relinquished by the crowd…

This “not-for-sale” picture is clicked by an aspiring journalism student, Tayzeem Sofi, 23, a soft-spoken and visibly shy youth.

“This picture reflects one of the ugliest realities of Kashmir. The reality of painful plight of half-widows,” says Sofi, whose photograph was used on the cover of noted journalist Zaheer-ud-din’s recently published book Flashback.

“It is dedicated to all those half-widows who are aimlessly waiting for reunion with their disappeared husbands.”

His one more click will flash as a jacket image of the upcoming book of Zaheer-ud-din.

After a while, Sofi attends a person looking at his displayed picture. He returns with a beam of fulfilment on his face. In the lawn where a frozen air of December is inflicting goose bumps on attendants, organizers and participants, Sofi seems at ease with himself.

Three years ago, he started clicking as a photojournalist for a local monthly educational magazine. And soon was drawn into depths of camera works. As his interest for clicks heaved, he parted his ways with magazine and stuck to clicks closer to his heart.

In the meantime, flaunting cameras on shoulders and hands, participants begin capturing moments of exhibition ceaselessly. On rooftops, inside the lawn and on pathways, the young clicking brigade doesn’t look in a mood to miss any moment. And one among them is Sofi Nabeel, a Class 11 student.

He is the youngest participant in the exhibition. He is driven with the belief that photography is the creative expression of showcasing one’s own perceived world to others. Beaming with confidence and expressing with eloquence, Nabeel is novice to still photography, but his interest for the same appears intense.

“In one frame, you can express the whole world,” says Nabeel, who mainly captures life in Srinagar through his lens. “It [Photography] is the way of expressing what you make out in your mind.”

But among the horde of youngsters today who keep uploading their clicks on social networking sites these days, how is Nabeel doing it differently? “Well I mainly capture intimate elements of old Srinagar,” he answers with an unshakable voice. “Many are clicking natural beauty, Dal Lake and other things. But I mainly click different façades of old city like kotar adde [pigeon sheds], mountains amid congestion and lot of other details.”

After touched by Nabeel’s interest towards photography, his father gifted him a DSLR [professional] camera. But he doesn’t believe to be swayed by photography passion at the cost of his aspiring profession. “I am studying medicine and am aspiring to be a doctor,” he says. “Photography isn’t my profession; it is my passion and yes, I am aware how and when to draw a line between the two.”

For the moment, the lawn wears a forlorn look. An escalated pitch in cold waves is compelling people to stay indoors in Hotel to warm up. Among the handful of attendants in the lawn, a young participant is closely scanning displayed pictures. He is Azam, a Class 12 student. This Caucasian faced youngster believes that photography is not everybody’s field.

“One needs to have a special eye for it [photography],” says Azam flashing looks of wisdom on his face. “What I mean to say is that, as a photographer one should have an ability to shoot common scenes with a unique touch.”

A scenic photograph on display at the event.
A scenic photograph on display at the event.

In 2011, he captured a shot of a cloud and went on to show it to a professional photographer. The professional patted his shoulder by telling him: “You got a good eye for photography.” And soon after that Azam started shooting with his cyber-shot camera. He continues to click with the same camera. “Camera doesn’t matter in photography,” he says. “What matters is the right click with conscious approach of mind.”

Azam seems to be a keen observer of others’ work at the exhibition. By observing elements used by others in their works, he feels will help him to capture better photographs. “I am just curious and that’s why, photography appeals me,” he says.

With sober looks on his stubble sporting face, Shams Ul Haq Qari, 20, is another participant at the exhibition. An undergraduate media student of Baramulla Degree College, his passion for photography started last year. Previously worked with Wild Life SOS, Qari is more of an artist than a photographer.

“I was earlier interested in arts like sculpturing, painting and other things,” he says. “But then I developed an instant interest for photography. Now I am collaborating art with pictures. And I am sure the blend of two will have its impact on people.” Aspiring to be a nature photographer, he only clicks birds.

One of the quietest participants is Danish Mattoo, 24, an MBA pass-out from Kashmir University. He is doing photography for last five years out of interest and passion. A nature lover since childhood, Mattoo always wanted to capture beauty of Kashmir. “Photography for me is storytelling,” he says. “It is my way to project the world.”

Unlike Matto, Shahnawaz, 25, a theatre artist from Srinagar is a mood based photographer. When in mood, he captures happy moments of his friends or of any situation. “I always look for beauty and happiness,” says Shahnawaz, his beaming expressive eyes standing out in his face. “And a beauty I search for could be in a place, in a person or in any situation. Capturing beauty is the central theme of my photography.”

And then there are some participants who are doing photography for fun. Adil Reshi, 22, an undergraduate commerce student, is one such photographer. He has irresistible interest for Macro Photography, where one is expected to click life-size portraits of subject.

One of the fascinating clicks at display portrays hands soaked in moist mud planting a sapling. It is clicked by Adil Majeed, 24, a MBA degree holder from SSM College. “Well, the image reflects an importance of conservation of nature,” says Majeed, a jovial person with friendly attitude.

Majeed is also one of the organizers of the exhibition who is clicking abstract portraits for last 4 years. Previously exhibited his works in a couple of local exhibitions, he says, photography is a vision for him. “Photography makes me complete,” he says. “Telling others’ stories through a lens is what satisfies my creative appetite.”

Among the amateur photographers present in exhibition, a lean-figured Saqib Majeed, 22, seems most active. A civil engineer by profession, he is already an acknowledged photographer. His works have been published in Net Geo and other publications. Doing photography for last seven years, Saqib is the founder of artists’ body – Art-Surpassing its Boundary (ASIB). “ASIB is a platform where an artist can display his work,” he says.

Clock has already passed noon. And an escalating pitch in chill doesn’t motivate people to step into the lawn now. All participants have taken refuge inside Hotel to escape cold. But lively photographs are still at display in the lifeless lawn. Among the photographs, Tayzeem Sofi’s picture portraying a half-widow and her unending wait for her disappeared lover is palpable in its visual appeal. And these poetic lines on it:

Riding into the forest of no notes,

Searching the owner of the old ragged boots

Like the waves reverberating from the river behind,

She believes one day sound may travel to her life.

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