Continuous stress is the worst curse of cosmopolitan city life in modern age of capitalism. Something from which people seem unable to disconnect. Even while enjoying vacations in solitude of nature, they are unable to ‘let go’,  unable to set aside things like job stress, professional targets, productivity, and calculations of profit and loss and organisational intrigues.

People are commonly seen in parks, restaurants, airports and hospitals;  stressed faces with taut muscles, buried deep in their laptops or cell phones; checking work mail, being accessible to others at a distance while oblivious of their surroundings.

As a result, they are unable to relax and fully appreciate the precious fleeting moments and what might be the most beautiful and  rewarding life experiences.

Can art play a relaxing role,  soothing injured, stretched nerves?

If so, how?

Susan Sontag has an answer. In one of her article on photography, she mentioned:

“Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.”

I agree with this apt comment. In fact the same can be claimed for all types of art. However the problem is, what to do for people for whom art itself becomes another rat race to excel. Another tension, another cause of anxiety for a workaholic. New reasons to be jealous, to fret over missed opportunities, and another set of unending targets.

Art becomes another cross to carry, a proverbial straw on the already over burdened back.


Photography is an art. People use it for various purposes; to capture beauty around us, to express our own emotions some times in abstract and surrealistic styles. For others it is a tool to document culture and life style of a society.

Eric Kim, one of the famous street photographer and himself a student of sociology has compared photography with study of sociology with camera as a research too. A powerful medium to record history, rituals, festivals and important social issues of the time.

Making worthwhile cultural photography is not as simple as it seems. It requires curiosity to see what is significant around us and a thoughtful selection of what needs to be captured.

In this short presentation I would focus on wall posters and graffiti as an elements of photographic composition.  When used intelligently they blend with an artist’s work and when so combined; often make an interesting social statement.

With examples from my own work, I intend to show that how these can add to the overall impact of a picture. All of the pictures in this presentation are candid street shot taken from Lahore and Rawalpindi with an aim to present urban culture. Life in a cosmopolitan city, has an attraction that one can remain faceless amidst a vast ocean of people, a luxury denied to those from villages and small towns.

A picture is claimed to be worth 1000 words. Ideally it should speak for itself without help of additional description but in this presentation I would need to step in on some points for a bit of explanations.

First picture is about an artist doing wall painting in a drive to beautify the city. The picture shows blending of the artist with her art.

At times these graffiti can be used to create an interesting and even funny situations,



At times these graffiti can serve as an interesting background for a particular seen, either augmenting or interesting contrast with it and highlighting the intent of an artist.

If one has an eye, one can use them to augment a particular emotional element in a picture, thus emphasizing a festive or gloomy mood or even adding a touch of romance to the scene.


Sometimes these posters, paintings have apparently no connection with the scene but a carefully taken angle gives them a meaning as if they belong to the scene.

Like this beauty parlor on the pavement,

or the Kahkashan beauty parlor

Photography is a powerful tool to convey a social message, to start or support a reform movement and also to deliver a biting satire if needed.




This is the picture on which I received the maximum Subhan Allah, Mashal Allah and Jazak Alla. People that that though belatedly, at least I have become a pious Muslims. Better late than never.

This picture was taken on Independence day of Pakistan, when MML was formally launched. I posted it as a documentary evidence of an important change but had to face various objections from different quarters. One of them was that I had tried to glamorize Hafiz Saeed, giving him a larger than life stature; overpowering and dominating law enforcing agencies.

Although this was not my intention,  but that fact is that in our society some people are really more equal than others.

A time to reflect and ponder, what was the dream and what has been the outcome!



Posted: October 1, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

Although often overlapping, introversion and shyness are not the same thing. Although I am very much an introvert, I am not shy in the least.

Both traits are often misunderstood, sometimes even shunned, by those who do not possess them, but in truth both culminate in a degree of heightened sensitivity.

Although such sensitivity may be a handicap in some aspects of life in a society where all too often those who scream the loudest receive the most attention, and those who socialize well are admired even if lacking in other ways; it can also be immensely rewarding when allowed to flourish. The sensitive person may be more easily hurt, but he or she also may perceive beauty and depths of feeling beyond the ordinary.

Art is a pursuit well suited for introverts and shy people. It is a form of asynchronous exchange of emotions, where one may evolve relationships with his or her audience that are at once both intimate and anonymous.

Nicola Davidson Reed

Posted: September 18, 2017 in Interviews

Nicola Davidson Reed, a professional photographer is known for her thematic and surrealistic work in monochrome. She is one of those few whom I admire and keep on checking for learning and new ideas. It is very kind of her that she consented to answer my questions despite her numerous family and professional commitments.

Her detailed work can be seen on





1. How would you describe yourself briefly as a person?

A good mother , hardworking, driven, passionate, friendly , kind, obsessive, irritable, cranky, funny, romantic, intelligent, organised, protective, loyal, private & curious.



2. Describe your photographic odyssey. How it started and where do you find yourself now?

Picking up a Polaroid camera when I was 7 in the sand dunes of blackpool, photographing with my brothers & sisters & loving the instant Polaroids. from developing my own films as a teenager to now , a working photographer & mother in my own small studio working with digital.



3. How would you describe your social vision?

​I  wouldn’t not yet, been too busy but I do possess one



4. Most of your work is based on thematic / surreal images. Is it a better medium to express your thought process?

​It just is what it is, for now.  I hope to move on and become more social and less personal. Just something I have to do at the time, something I have to exorcise from myself​, might still have a few spurges, but I do want to photograph more outside of myself now.




5. You have made a name at international level. How was your able to achieve this? Can you share your struggle and secrets of success?

​Really?​If you mean on a social forum platform , that is​ purely from posting daily and replying to folk who have taken the time to respond to one of my photographs.  I am never too busy to say thank you.​ My struggle is the same as anyone else’s, striving to make a better life for one’s family, just graft , hard work, focus and more graft, many sleepless nights, some wine & a patient husband.​
6. Do you think a formal training in art and photography is essential? How you learned photography?
Absolutely not​, but great if you want to do that. There is nothing you wont learn more than picking up that camera every single day and just shooting , and you save money on fees.
7. What is the reason for your preference for monochrome pictures as compared to colored? 
Just love the old masters Brassai , Kertesz, Bresson, and today Sally Mann ​, have always had a preference for  BW. It has a resonance that I cannot achieve with color although others can and I love seeing photographers’ color work just not my own.
8. From whom you have been most impressed in photography? Do you still keep learning from the work of masters or do you feel they hinder and blunt your innate personal vision?
Andre Kertesz , Bill brandt, sally Mann, Francesca woodman, so many, too many to mention​. Every day i learn from the masters​.
9. Do you feel photography influences one’s personality as literature and other genres of art do? How it has changed your own personality and world view?
Absolutely​. ​It has not only changed, it has become a part of me. I see the world through the lens, even if I am not holding up a camera.
1o. What is your photography routine? 
School drop off, go to studio, street sign put out, coffee, music on, look through diary, answer emails, check my list as I write everything down (getting older), look at the light in the studio, if inspired by something. Could be anything. Start shooting something personal, or if I have a job on , I prepare the studio, batteries , the lenses, put my studio chairs in natural light, wait for clients. Clients come, work so hard when they leave. I am sweating, then start the processing and developing in the digital darkroom which may take a couple of weeks and so on and so forth.​
11. How much time you spend in it and how you are able to manage it?  Do you work randomly or in planned way with a project in mind? 
 Nearly every day around other duties. I manage it very well​. I have been carving the routine over the years as my children have grown. ​all of them. I can have bursts of inspiration. I also work methodical ​& planned & project based.
12. What do you think are the benefits of social media in promotion of today’s world? 
Greatly beneficial. For me, opening my Facebook  is like opening a huge international photography ​book every day. I have only added mainly photographers and/or artists.
13. Lately you have not been very active on social media.
​I have, haven’t stopped. I went on holiday for a week if that is what you mean​, my G+ was moved to a collection so maybe you not seeing my work because of that.
14.  Do you think photography can help promote tolerance and human value in our lives? Do you feel you have been able to make a difference with your work? 
 ​Of course​. ​no idea​
15. Please name some of your compatriots who have impressed you. 
​Bernd schaefers, Lawrence del, Mundo ​crash taylor,  Betina la PLante, Sarah lawrie, Chris friel,  then so many, too many to list.
16. What are your current projects in photography?
​I have a couple of things buzzing in my mind but incubating at the moment so can’t call them projects.
17. Any other lesson/advice you would like to give to an aspiring photographer
​ Shoot every day.

Vineet Sharma

Posted: September 17, 2017 in Interviews
Vineet Sharma is one of the most prominent street photographer from India. With his hard work and dedication he has made a name in documentary photography in a very short time. He belongs to Varanasi. By profession, he is an administrator in a business firm. Photography is one of his passions. Through this art he has captured the essence of India as a multi-cultural vibrant society.
1. How would you describe yourself briefly as a person?
I would describe myself as an easy going and a happy person. I’m also very determined and highly motivated in life. I also love to help people and have a great passion for photography.
2. Describe your photographic odyssey.  How it started and where do you find yourself now? 
Photography is my greatest passion. It gives me extreme peace from all the mental and physical stress of the day to day struggle. I have never taken any professional training since I’ve had financial troubles. But i used help from google and learn techniques online and implement them in my photos and I’m still learning and will continue to use help from google. I started my photography in December, 2012 as a beginner in a contest and I bought a second hand camera and started this as my new hobby. Due to my job I didn’t get much time to pursue this new hobby but i made sure I’d spend my Sundays on photography. I follow the same schedule till date.
3. Most of your work is based of cultural and documentary nature. Do you feel it keeps you more in touch with real life as compared to other genres of photography?
Yes, definitely. I am a ground level person so, I know what the real feelings and emotions of a comman man are, and, I always want to know how a comman man  feels so I capture his expressions when he is happy or sad or while they are practicing their rituals. For composing an emotional and natural frame, I familiarize myself with the person with whom I’m shooting. I always like to capture the emotions of humans during cultural activities.
4. Photography has been compared with the work of an anthropologist with a camera as a tool. How would you describe your social vision?
Yes you could say that the genre of the photography that I practice is like anthropology because my photographs study the social and cultural behavior of humans in Banaras. I’d say that my photographs can even capture the essence of my city and its people.
5. You have rapidly developed in to a mature artist. How was your able to achieve this? Can you share your struggle and secrets of success?
I believe that my competition is with myself and I never compare myself with anybody. My mistakes have always guided me because I am a self observer of my photos. By looking at my previous work, I always try to figure out what I can edit in that frame which could make it more meaningful. This habbit increased my composition skills. I’d go through my old folders and enjoy going through my journey as a photographer. Some photos would communicate loud enough to tell me that I could do better. I would repeat some of my frames and compose them in new ways to add new elements of a story to them. This, I believe is the main reason of my achievements. I still believe that I am a beginner and can learn much more. In my journey a lot of other budding photographers come to me with questions and I am happy to help them as in this profession ‘sharing and learning’ is the best policy.
6. Do you think a formal training in art school is essential? How you learned photography?
Yes of course it’s necessary. If i had the time I’d love to train myself under a professional. However, my madness for photography has driven me to learn on my own which is my strength. I’ve learnt everything with the help of Google so far.
7. How would you rate the current work in India with that being produced at international level? What are the new artistic trends in Indian art circles? 
The rate is definitely increasing by the day. There are great number of groups on social media like Facebook that expose us internationally. Many photographs and artists have started being recognized on international platforms.
8. From whom you have been most impressed in photography? Do you still keep learning from the work of masters or do you feel they hinder and blunt your innate personal vision?
I follow the works of Steve Mccury and Sabastiao Salgado. I always try to see their work in my free times. It will be a great opportunity if I get a chance to meet these photography legends.
9. Do you feel photography influences one’s personality as literature and other genres of art do? How it has changed your own personality and world view?
I think Photographs are mirrors of our society which can seen by everyone. Sometimes a perfect photo can give us an idea for solving problems. Sometimes Photographs communicate between two different communities or personalities. They can also express feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions. It changed my personality and worldview as I started seeing everything in more detail and it added more perspective to my thoughts.
10. What is your photography routine? How much time you spend in it and how you are able to manage it.
I never decided any fixed routine for my photography but once I hang my camera on my shoulder, my mind starts working. I always prefer street photography and can gladly say that my city’s lanes are popular for street photography  known as “VARANASIAN STREETS” or “GALI BANARAS”. As I said earlier, due to my job I don’t have much time for photography and in a week I touch my camera every Saturday night for charging my Camera, and then the next day I start my photography at 4.30 AM and continue till about 11.00 AM. Sometimes it’s depend on my mood and weather but, I resume after 2.00 PM, and my wife and my two kids join me during shoots. I also, use them as subjects to add life and character to my frames.
11. What do you think are the benefits of social media in promotion of art in today’s world?
 I already mentioned earlier that social groups are a great platform that helps us to get recognized internationally.
12. Do you think photography can help promote tolerance and human value in our lives? Do you feel you have been able to make a difference with your work?
Yes of course. Photography can help communicate current scenarios of everyday life, what people are going through, their troubles, their happiness, everything. This in particular is the kind of typology that interests me. I truly hope that I have been able to make a difference through my work.
13. Name some of your compatriots who have impressed you. 
Of Indian photographers, Raghu Rai is my favorite, especially his old work in analogue technology before the digital cameras were invented.
14. Do you work with some project in mind or prefer a random collection of what catches your attention?  
Usually I have a random collection on similar social subjects.
But if I get a chance I’d love to work on specific projects. In the past, I have worked with foreign photographers on their Varanasian Street Project and Heritage Building Projects of Varanasi.
15. Any other lesson/advice you would like to give to an aspiring photographer.
Well I give some tips to the beginners. For example, when you buy a new camera always read the entire manual carefully and understand the kind of options and features that it supports.
After that you could get help from photography guides or seniors.
Lastly, if all else fails go online and use Google search for your questions and queries, there are a lot of links available that could solve most of your problems.

Solitude of the night

Posted: September 1, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist


It is often mentioned that a photograph is worth 1000 words. Probably its so but there are moments for which it doesn’t s not seem a suitable medium for expression.

In moments like these, one likes to sit back in a calm quite room reflecting on the inner turmoil waiting for the inner and outer circumstances converge emotionally, which is not always the case; and when it does so it might be in ways indescribable by any means of expression.

It is almost midnight at my native town. Whole family gathered for Eid celebration is excited for tomorrow’s festivities and children, in excitement have refused to sleep. Stillness of the night and its loneliness has stirred a storm of memories. Of times never to return again and of people—-without whom life seemed impossible once— never to be seen again.

An inner restlessness, realizing a deep void within the soul and solitude of the midnight is something which is impossible to convey. Unable to sleep, tossing in the bed, memories rushing in like torrents. Nostalgia of the past normally suppressed by professional requirements in cosmopolitan urban life, turns in to an anguish, a vast sense of irremediable loss.

The camera seemed more a burden than a companion for much of it and the words seem the only crutches for support. It may still be impossible to convey but at least it would be a source of catharsis and a means to analyse the chaotic noise in my mind.

Bewildered and haunted through flashes of memories that relive themselves
I sit and ponder and look into the sky
there is no pain greater than been lost in SELF
battling with a STRONG shadow called SADNESS
she stalks and haunts and bring you moments of agony
she comes along with her sister ANGUISH
and they taunt you,
galvanizing and pinpointing your mind to the PAST you left behind




(Translation of an article of Umair Ghani, a prominent photographer of Pakistan.)

Pakistani photographers must realize this fact now that a soft image of this country (or any other country) can’t be built by showing its photo shopped landscapes to the world.Rather it requires to abandon retrogressive thinking and an attitude of intolerance, which unfortunately have become our cultural and social introduction at present.

In the last seven decades of Pakistan’s history, apart from Islamabad camera club and the  Samir ur Rehman;s Photographic Art Society of Pakistan, not a single institution or group has added anything significant Pakistani photography with consistency. Mutual conflicts and an ambition to be labelled as a legend at a very early stage have deprived contemporary Pakistani photographers of any ideology regarding this art form. Intolerance for difference of opinion and and extremist mindset has resulted in the present inertia prevalent in national photography scene. It is true that some individuals, shunning this group politics, are contributing serious work; but in the overall atmosphere of aggressive self-promotion and leg pulling, their efforts seem ineffectual to bring any major change.

Pakistani photographers of current generation should know that if we have legends, they are to be found among well known names of Nisar Mirza (pride of performance for his photographic coverage of 1967 Arab-Israel war), Aftab Ahmad (Pride of Performance, Col. Umar, F E Chaudhrey (Pride of Performance), M R Owaisi (Pride of Performance, Sami ur Rahman (Pride of Performance), Mian Majeed, Syed Javed Qazi (Pride of Performance), Zafar Ahmad, Azhar Jafri, Syed Nayyar Reza, Shahid Zaidi, Arif Mahmood and Salim Khawar. These and their contemporaries truly achieved international recognition and brought Pakistani photography to global recognition. All of them won status of associates of prestigious organisations like FIAP, RPS and PSA, deserve accolades; but their contributions have not been researched or preserved by any institution within Pakistan. Camera brands spend millions on self promotion, but fail to develop national photographic archives. Maybe those desirous of becoming a legend through brand promotion just within few years of purchasing digital cameras are too scared to be lost in the echo of so many big giants if they acknowledge these names.

Since Islamabad Camera Club is inactive now, Sami ur Rahman through Photographic Art Society of Pakistan has played a pivotal role in exhibiting the work of Pakistani photographers and preserving it in catalogs for last 30 years. Top priority of this forum has been to create public awareness about current trends of photography in Pakistan and to preserve representative work of each era. It has been able to create an archive of images comprising last thirty years through its catalogs. We have such wonderful people who can serve as guide to perform commendable work for art of photography in this country. The multinational camera brands active in Pakistan need to pay attention in this direction as well. To play a role in social uplift of a society is the moral duty of companies who earn huge financial profits from people of that country. If any brand really intends to win the hearts of people of Pakistan, it would require something more concrete than merely arranging wedding photography workshops. A selfless devotion to promote photography as an art form needs to be included among priorities of brand promotion. Preserving pictures in archives would help photography to be included in main stream visual arts.

It requires a moral courage to accept the contributions of real legends of Pakistan’s photography. Any individual or organisation addressing this much needed step would achieve a lasting status in history.

Please mark my words; ‘throughout human history, only those works of art play significant role which were made through utmost devotion and with distinctive artistic ideology’.