Peeking through the lens with HAJRA AHMAD

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Dreams: My dreams are usually in colour, completely surreal and beautiful. My series ‘Seen’ is loosely based on them. It consists of objects and moments from daily life which embed themselves in our sub-conscious minds to form a story….. its work in progress.

Ambitions: My ambition is to travel and see the entire world. Being a wildlife buff, one of my biggest desires is to photograph the clouded leopard. And like most photographers, working with National Geographic, is certainly the dream.

Expressions: Photography has definitely made me more perceptive about situations and different perspectives. Having learnt this art I am more aware of the ‘moments’ Henri Cartier Bresson(one the founders of Magnum) talked about. At any given time there are several angles to a situation and being a photographer, I find myself searching for all. One of my most memorable experience has been photographing the Tibetan movement, at Dharamshala, and more importantly His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I still cannot forget the pulsating energy I felt at that moment,it’s unexplainable.

Work experience: My work experience has been varied. Alongside freelance photography I did corporate communications for SUJAN Luxury Hotels which also included photography and design. But very recently,with the onset of e-marketing, my designation has changed to Social Media Manager. Being at SUJAN, I got the opportunity to spend a lot of time at Ranthambore National Park honing my wildlife photography skills. With hands-on experience I picked up commercial art, giving shape to many books, websites, invitations and projects that involve design.

Giving my career a direction I attended the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in 2009; was fortunate to be amongst the 30 chosen Asian photographers for the 2010 Angkor Photo Workshop in Cambodia. Have done some exciting shoots like Tibetan Movement in India and the elections in UP earlier last year, besides other conceptual projects.

Magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Lonely Planet have given impetus to my work. I am truly grateful to my clients Tarun Tahiliani, Anand Automotive Systems and many more, for encouraging and appreciating my art.

My earliest forays in photography were at Welham Girls’ School in Dehra-Dun. Being an extensive traveler from a young age, these opportunities helped me capture a range of subjects and images. By the time I graduated in English Literature from Lady Sriram College, I began to pursue photography with earnest and did my post-graduation from The Light and Life Academy in Ootacumand. Here I was technically trained in this discipline; transforming a keen interest into a full time career.

I learnt Wildlife, Nature, Photojournalism and Fine Art photography, along with darkroom techniques and alternative methods in photography. Studio, Fashion and Portrait photography specialization broadened my horizons, further. Now my work also involves experimental photography including the use of pinhole cameras, plastic cameras, the large format camera and the digital camera.

First camera: Pentax Film Camera, in school.

Present camera: Canon 5D, Holga and Graflex Super Speed Graphic 4×5″ large format camera

Tips for beginners: Be disciplined about your work and always be open to learning from others. Stay aware of what is going on around you to find your story.

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