To celebrate World Photography Day, we decided to know more about one of our shutterbugs. So we interviewed Shafik Mahomad.
World Photography Day was approaching and we really wanted to celebrate it. So we thought… What would be better than interviewing our shutterbug Shafik? He is a Q.A. Architect at e.near, and since he loves to take photos of everyone at the office, he had to be the right person!
We prepared 10 questions about photography and discovered that he even won a prize! Read all his answers below:
#1: How did you become interested in photography?
I owe my interest in photography to my dad (just like tennis, my other serious hobby). He and his brothers had developed an interest from their youth, so years later after I was about 11 or 12, many times I would follow my dad into these photo development sessions in this mysterious dark room, set up temporarily in our kitchen. Watching a print appear onto a paper inside a liquid-filled tray is a magical moment (regardless of your age), and that’s when it grabbed me.
#2: What was your first camera?
I learned to photograph on my dad’s camera, a Nikon FM which is as minimalistic as possible and without any automation at all and all exposure parameters are manually controlled (still today that camera commands a high price on the used market). Then I briefly used another Nikon body until I settled on a second-hand Nikon FA bought in the medina of Casablanca, Morocco during one of my professional outings.
#3: Who is your favourite photographer or favourite photographers? Why?
The images that I remember most from those early teens when I began the interest in photography were from National Geographic… the magazine, not the TV show which didn’t exist at the time. Images that I only came to know who was the photographer many years later: Steve McCurry and his famous “Afgan Girl” among many others in taken in Africa. More recently I appreciate and learn from street photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, etc. Finally, Sebastião Salgado for the sheer strength of his images. There are many more that I must get to know and study.
#4: What do you like to photograph?
My taste in photography subjects lies with what’s more available and accessible to photograph which is urban street scenes, where I try to capture something about the mood of the place, their people and the times relaying that from my personal perspective.
Actually, where e.near headquarters are located well in the heart of downtown Lisbon is a brilliant place to capture those kinds of images.
#5: What is the funniest story that ever happened to you related to your passion for photography?
I don’t really have any funny story related to photography, as my method is to be as discreet as possible and we’re not in a place like New York where nobody cares what you’re doing, neither do I have the “bravado” like Bruce Gilden (look up his shooting style in youtube – now he’s funny).
In any case, my work assignments have given me the opportunity to explore some countries and regions and my camera always followed. So in this assignment, I was in the Bodensee, a stunning region where I could try to shoot some landscapes for the first time ever. I still have vivid memories of the internal struggles to get up from bed well before the sun-rise in wintery and snowy conditions to capture some scenes with untouched snow (there’s a first time for everything), one part of you is telling that the weather won’t be any good for photography, the other arguing that we couldn’t be sure until we’re there… anyway, the lesson here is getting out of your comfort zone does not ensure but can bring great rewards. And I hold those snowy scenes very dear to me, more for the process and the experience rather than the images themselves.
#6: What camera do you use? Or do you prefer smartphones?
Having learned photography in the film era, I always prefer a camera over a cell phone. I use both film and digital cameras, and although I do suffer from G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) I do not update my digital gear and always buy second-hand.
Currently, I use a digital Nikon D300 and a smaller and more discreet Panasonic Lumix G5 (yes, it’s old stuff). More recently I have just bought myself my first medium format film camera which I’m eager to try during my coming vacations, a Bronica GS-1.
#7: What do you feel when you shoot?
Being influenced by HCB, Winogrand et all, I really appreciate the black&white photography, also, I’m lousy at using colour.
I’m trying to continuously improve my ability to see light, shapes, lines and compositions which when used to frame the human element can serve to tell a story or an idea, besides just a pretty image.
What I feel during the process is a mix of observer/scanner and hunter/sniper (of images in this case), it’s a focus on light, spaces, lines and the opportunity, in the waiting for all the right elements to fall into place ie. for the “decisive moment”, concept made famous by HCB.
#8: Have you ever exhibited your photographs?
I have never exhibited my photos. My current photography project is to self-publish one or more books with a selection of my best street photos. I have thousands of images to cull and edit into a significant few..
#9: And have you ever competed in a photo contest? Did you win any prize?
The only photography contest I participated in was the “maratona fotográfica no metropolitano de Lisboa” in 2018. I could not pass up the opportunity to access and photograph the metro at my leisure and with no one bothering me about it. Also, it’s a mode of transport I use daily for many years.
#10: Where can we see your photographs?
Contains a very small selection of street photos for the various places I’ve been through since 2005 – there are a couple of the snowy scenes I mentioned :-)
Before that period I have a ton of negatives to re-scan and process.
Happy World Photography Day!
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