With passion and dedication, Hadiya Ali has set her sights on pursuing a prolific career in photography. Hadiya resides in Muscat, Oman, and gains inspiration for her work with a connection to people and her surroundings. Through simple observation and her skills as a photographer, Hadiay’s work effectively captures various moments in time. No matter how significant or inconsequential, a story lies to be told in every photograph she captures. Hadiya has a tremendous amount of focus and drive and I think you’ll agree she has a bright future ahead.
Hadiya, thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers with us and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are an extraordinary photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following.
If you’d like to learn more about Hadiya and her work, please follow her on Instagram.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Hadiya Ali. I am an eighteen years old student, Pakistani by nationality, but have lived in Oman all my life. Photography is my biggest passion which is why I am pursuing it as a career. Anything related to art or creativity interests me but photography tops the list.
Where is home?
As I mentioned, I am from Pakistan but, since I have lived in Oman all my life, I consider this home. Both of these countries hold a special place in my heart.
Are you formally taught or self-taught? And what has been the best source of information along this journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I am self-taught – I was only seven when I got intrigued by photography and twelve when I started earning with whatever I knew. Initially, it took some learning from online forums and workshops.
I still take advantage of any learning forums if they are actually worth it because, in the end, there is always an available room for improvement.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
Every photo, no matter how ordinary, holds an entire story in it. This realization dawned upon me after coming across the posts of ‘Humans of New York’. Since then, any and every ordinary object, person and place have been a source of inspiration to me. Everything is ordinary, yet extraordinary.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
Interacting with new people. I remember mentioning this in an interview before too, that I always dreamt of working in a field where there would be lots of interaction with new people. Today, I strongly see that if it weren’t for my photography, I would have never come across the people and the stories that I did, only through this platform.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Working as a woman- there have been occasions where I have been looked upon with questionable stares. At times, I felt it was because of my hijab and other times because of my nationality, wherein our culture, it is odd for a woman to be so career-oriented, especially at such a young age. However, as hard as it has been to work in such environments, I try not to let it be an obstacle in my path of dedication.
Focusing on my work and creating chaos with my silent success has throughout been my mantra.
What do you do to keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated?
Like any other teenager, I keep myself updated with the latest content on social photography pages and blogs. They give me the motivation to try out new edits and angles that I later post on my Instagram page to keep my followers engaged, as it demands.
What drives you to create; does it satisfy a need or passion?
Both, my curiosity and the constant need to take my work, a notch higher.
How did you develop your style?
It took me a very long time to understand that to stand out, you have to be unique. Recently, I created my own filter that I apply to every image. I do have to play around with the controls after I apply the edit but now, with my own personally designed filter, my work stands out distinctively.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
Capturing something new. As much as I hate going to places unplanned, it is challenging to capture spontaneous moments and I enjoy that.
Which is your favorite image? Could you explain the background story behind it?
About a couple of years back, I took a trip to Salalah with my family where we decided to visit the Yemen border as it was pretty close. Stricken with war and under constant threats of terrorist attacks, we obviously could not enter the country but spent some time by the border. We met a Yemeni man who was eigty five years old. He said that it had been almost 30+ years since he’s migrated from Yemen to Oman. He considered Oman as his home but, his family, friends, and memories were still in Yemen. We sat with him the whole afternoon where he shared some of his stories. He said, “A person does not age by face but by heart and I am still very young at heart. It still feels as if I was it was yesterday that I was in my home, in Yemen.”
The only reason that I have not shared his picture on my social media accounts is because I feel that the pictures holds a memory and depth such that people would not understand it.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
Three years back, no one would have imagined me being where I am today. It was my passion, dedication, and love that led me here. I hope they understand that passion can lead you to big places.
What is your best photography tip?
1. For the novice photographers out there; do not get good gear straight away- start small. And learn to make it better with time. Photography requires patience.
2. Study your shot- look around and observe where most people take pictures from and choose an entirely different angle. Adjust your settings beforehand. Approaching a subject with unbalanced settings can create a mess.
What photographic gear do you currently use?
I own a Canon EOS750D, 5 lenses that include an 18-55mm kit lens, 70-200mm f/4, 50mm f/1.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 8mm f/3 wide-angle lens.
I also use an external light for indoor shoots and a Yognuo YN560 IV Speedlite.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Definitely my 24-70mm lens. It’s sharp at picking colors and can be used on any occasion.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Very. I believe that “natural is beautiful” but, every picture needs a little work and holds a room for improvement.
What are your thoughts on raw images vs images that have been worked on (photoshop)?
For a very long time, I took pictures in JPG format like any newbie. I read articles on how and why RAW is a better format for pictures.
It’s simple- the word says it. RAW is the original state of the pictures whereas a JPG picture is a processed image and does not give you the clarity or the colors like RAW.
Even though working with RAW images is a task, I would still advise photographers to use RAW format.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
Sometimes, people learn lessons the hard way and so did I. There were times when I was in desperate need to show my work to people and so, I took unpaid projects only to get some content. People started taking it for granted and would throw the ” We can hire a professional if you don’t want to work” in my face. I started to feel depressed and had constant instances where I thought about quitting because I was young and did not know how to take failures well.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that ‘tipping point’?
It was when I made my photography page on Instagram- the love and support I got from my friends, family and school mates was unbelievable.
People shared my content, sent me lots and lots of messages and in less than a week, I got hired as a photographer for a makeup masterclass where I got introduced to a lot of women as the event’s photographer. At that point, I felt I had achieved a milestone and I have only been rising since that day.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up or than you would like to learn?
Very frequently I ask my followers what they think of my work. I also compare my recent works with the previous ones to see the refinements I have made.
I still feel that I need to understand lighting better. I understand the importance of lighting and in fact, believe that lighting is the most fundamental element in photography. There are still works of mine that I think would have been much better if my lighting was more appropriate.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I think the future holds nothing but the best for me. I am extremely satisfied with the progress and the pace of my work but have not made myself comfortable with the uprise as I still have a very long way to go.
I dream that in the next five to eight years, I will own a personal studio and probably a running business with photography equipment for rent and sale. I dream of being a mentor, someday, after being academically qualified, particularly to passionate teens like me who have a genuine thirst for learning in this field.