Tragedy of Pakistan’s photography

Posted: July 30, 2017 in Interviews

 

(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’.

 

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