HNH Spotlight with Ammar Zaidi – The Photographer Lost In The Narrow Streets Of Spain
Team HNH Style Sits Down For A Candid Interview With The Talented Ammar Zaidi
Photographs are the universal language of our era and the people who make up today’s thriving photographic community are our eyes to the world. Whether established artists and journalists or passionate emerging voices, they inform us, they inspire us, they amaze us, they put our world in the broader context of history.
One such dedicated and talented artist who sees the world through the lens of his camera is a celebrated photographer, Ammar Zaidi, who has the world at his feet. Ammar comes from a self-taught design background and his photography is not one to be missed.
We sat down with Ammar for a candid interview and asked him a few questions about his life and his passion for photography. We began by asking him a little something about himself, to which Ammar replied that he used to have a T-shirt brand called Daku T-shirt, which centered around national and international socio-political situations.
“We had t-shirts about the Palestinian issue, about the emergency in Pakistan, whatever the political situation was at that point in time or the corruption, illiteracy, you know all sorts of injustices, I used to address those through that brand.”
Asked about how he started doing photography, Ammar replied that he moved to Dubai for five years, which is where his photography journey began.
“Basically I was working with this real estate brokerage company as the marketing manager. At that point in time, a lot of companies weren’t hiring photographers for their listings. I hired a professional photographer but he left after a couple of years. So I just went and bought a camera and I started doing photography. That’s how I actually started. I guess coming from a design background, I had a better aesthetic sense.”
Ammar went on to do street/travel photography after closing his chapter at real estate. He moved back to Pakistan in 2018 and worked on Karachi’s old areas.
“I was taking pictures of them and I had a very small Instagram page, I still have a very small Instagram page, not a big one in terms of followers. “
We then proceeded to ask Ammar how the whole Lost In Spain project came to fruition, to which he replied that back in 2019, the Spanish Embassy gave him an opportunity to go to Spain and do a photography road trip.
“Initially the idea was 2-3 cities, but I thought everyone goes to Madrid, Cordoba, Ibiza – mostly from Pakistan people only visit these 3-4 cities so I when I got this project, I discussed with them that we’ll do a conceptual thing about this photographer doing a road trip who is exploring Spain."
“I told them when I take pictures I like roaming the streets and I like to go to smaller towns and villages, and sometimes capturing people in their own element and their own environment. For me to understand any city, the best would be to walk around as much as I can, especially in the old areas of the city center - that really helps understand life, the culture, and the people.”
Ammar believes that you really get the feel of a city, its history, or culture when you roam around the old part of the city center.
“I did about 14 different areas – it was a 25-day trip and most of the day without the help of Google maps, because the scene was “lost in Spain” and it was “discovering Spain” and also - self-discovery and I feel self-discovery is a journey that never stops – so it was also that for me. I was like a lost traveler, who is lost in Spain and who is trying to figure out everything.”
“I did two exhibitions after that – one was at the Islamabad Art Festival in November 2019 and then my first solo exhibition was at the Canvas Gallery, in February 2020.”
Asked as to what he likes to convey through his photography, Ammar replied:
“To put it one line – it’s always capturing whatever I see - that captures my eye. It’s my journey of self-discovery, I take it as a spiritual journey – I am a big idealist and dreamer, so I take my work in the same way. When you see a picture’s end result it’s a mix of idealism, realism, and combined with realities around us. You’ll see the colors around.”
We proceeded to ask Ammar whose work he takes great inspiration from, to which he named Steve McCurry and his friends Amaan Ahmed and Ali Jawed as his real inspiration and shining light.
We asked Ammar what equipment is a must-have for him, to which he replied:
“Basically, in this trip, I had two cameras – I used Cannon, I had two cameras and four lenses with me. For a trip like this, one needs at least 2 cameras and 3-4 lenses. For me having 4 lenses with me really worked it. Equipment is important, but sometimes with the best equipment, one is not able to capture a good picture. I do not call myself a top photographer, I’m still learning.”
For our second last question, Team HNH Style asked Ammar Zaidi where he sees himself in the next five years, which resulted in a surprising answer once again:
“Hopefully have a series of books – that’s my dream. I’m currently working on a book, it’s on a theme, and hopefully, in five years inshaAllah – the plan is to get my first book out in 2021, then after that have 7-8 books similar to it.”
Team HNH Style ended the spotlight interview by asking Ammar Zaidi for a video message for youngsters about how to handle the struggles, successes, and disappointments in this line of work to which he sent a very realistic and relatable message.
We at HNH wish this rising star the very best in his future endeavors!
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