Photographer Hasnain Ahmed’s collection of photos whilst showing the different faces of the United Arab Emirates also tries to draw a parallel to Indian culture
“A photograph is a poem about time,” says Hasnain Ahmed; the photographer will be exhibiting a collection of his photos titled Colours Of Arabia in Chennai on October 9.
“Photographs can capture a moment in time that is gone forever, or capture a moment in history for future generations. They can also change behaviour and stimulate understanding between people,” he adds.
He holds up a photograph he has taken of Al Jahili Fort, which he explains is one of the largest forts in the United Arab Emirates built in the late 19th Century by Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa (1835-1909), as a royal summer residence. There are also vivid, colourful images of an old Iranian carpet shop, the Dubai Souk and the Creek Side market, where exotic spices, oud and perfumes are sold.
“Oud is sourced from the wood of the agar tree which when infected with a particular type of mould, produces a warm, woody, smoky fragrance that is highly sought after. The Arabs call it ‘liquid gold’,” he says.
Colours Of Arabia is a collection that shows the different faces of the UAE and its swank cities, a few miles from which lie large swathes of empty desert where the Bedouins live, like they have for centuries.
“My intention was to bring to the people of India various images from the Middle East, and also do a Colours Of India photo exhibition in the Middle East. My hope is that these images will bring the people of the two regions together, as I feel that there are a lot of similarities between us in terms of food, family values, the hospitality we extend to our guests…” says Hasnain, who is the nephew of the current Nawab of Arcot.
He grew up in Chennai at the Amir Mahal Palace in Royapettah, and is a descendant of the second Prince of Arcot, Nawab Zaheer-ud-Daulah Bahadur.
“Growing up in Chennai and visiting my grandparents in Saudi, and my extended family in UAE, I felt at home in all these places. I think there is more that we have in common than what separates us,” says Hasnain.
The turning point in his life was when his father gifted him a Panasonic digital camera when he was in Class X.
Hasnain says, “I was an average student, and not too interested in academics. The camera opened up a new world for me — a world of light, shadows, colours and stories.”
He learnt photography from the Mind School Film Institute, Chennai, founded by filmmaker Rajiv Menon.
“I subsequently did advanced professional photography and film making courses from IFTA, Mumbai and the Gulf Photo Plus Institute in Dubai,” he adds.
He started his own production house, Hasnain Ahmed Productions, in 2018, and now does corporate and documentary films, music videos and short films for clients in India, the UAE and the UK.
Colours Of Arabia is open to the public from 5pm on October 9 at Hotel GRT in T Nagar.