On our second day on Lake Titicaca in Peru, we travelled by boat from Amantani Island to Uros Island, to spend the night with another host family. We travelled with others, but stopped midway, said goodbye to our newly made friends, and hopped over to Anna’s small boat, throwing our backpacks on board and exchanging pleasantries. 20 minutes later, after settling into our rooms, we joined Anna and her son Roland, and learned about their way of life, as we set up fishing nets and collected reed.
I visited Havana in Fall of 2012. After days of not coming into contact with locals, and watching the ocean in front of me, Havana was city life at its finest, and one that left me speechless. There was so much going on, that at times, I didn’t know where to point my camera. I began to recognize that locals took a lot of time to sit, relax and observe. I snapped this photo of these friends, imagining how long they had been friends, where they lived, and how they spent their days.
Havana remains to this day as one of my favourite cities I have visited. Maybe it was because the trip was memorable and productive, or that Old Havana was so beautiful. I think mainly it was because people’s faces were striking, and they stayed with me. They carried a great deal of experience, struggles, and humanity. There was something very unique about my time and experience there as a photographer.
The portraits I took in Havana had a certain pattern and rhythm to them, this specific one following the same composition as the ones above. Despite their similarities, the subjects are very different, both in terms of facial expression and body language. I loved the inclusion of the bells on the left, with the trumpet in his hands, and more than anything, the striking difference between the subjects faces drew me to want to photography them side by side.
I don’t often take photos of family and friends, but at times, when the moment is right, and I want to remember it, I do. While visiting the UK in January 2018, I took this photo of my now brother-in-law, while we were on a train going from Norwich to Ely. Three months after this photo was taken, him and my sister tied the knot on a cold , but beautiful day in April in Toronto.
On a spontaneous trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park located in Prince Edward County in Ontario, my friend and I found ourselves in a sudden blizzard. In the summer, Sandbanks in known for sandy white beaches, and the difference on this cold and snowy February afternoon was striking. We walked on the icy lake, trying to keep warm and taking photos that would try to depict the winter wonderland we had found ourselves in. It was only when we turned the camera on each other that we realized we had found the answer.
After visiting a temple in the city of Shanghai, I wandered off the beaten path and ended up in the small district called Longhua. It was small and humble community of people, living with minimal needs and housing. It was unfamiliar, especially in contrast to the rest of Shanghai, yet extremely fascinating. In one of the small alleys, children played, as elders carried on with their chores.
In 2012, there was a demonstration held in Toronto to protest against Western intervention in the Syrian War. I attended because I was writing a piece on the event, and I spent some time talking to people from various backgrounds, trying to understand their point of view. When the march began, i photographed people in action. It was a surprise to me how young some of the attendees were, and I wondered how their lives would be impacted if the West did in fact intervene.
This was one of the first portraits I ever took. I was working on a school project, trying to come up with creative ways to incorporate satire into projects and subjects that deal with social issues, such as homelessness. My attempts were to raise more awareness in audiences and allow the average person to empathize, but not pity. This man gave me the biggest smile when I asked him if I could take a photo, and it’s stayed with me since.
I visited a university campus with a Bosnian friend I made, to talk to students of diverse backgrounds their perceptions on ethnic reconciliation and inclusion in Sarajevo today. As a generation who have experienced the aftermaths of war, and possibly the war itself, I was curious to learn about their experiences. Our conversations were fluid and in most cases, they just wanted me to take their photo.
The village of Abyaneh, sitting at the foot of the Karkas Mountain, is one of the most historic and authentic villages in Iran. It is about 70 km southeast of Kashan in Isfahan province and is unique for having preserved and retained the traditions of its founders. Its history goes back more than 2,500 years, and traces from the Sassanid period can be seen in its architecture. The locals are friendly, and very proud of their heritage and customs, still speaking in their local dialect and wearing traditional clothing.
While visiting San Jose, Costa Rica, I was walking with a friend towards the market, a camera around my neck and snapping photos. This man caught my eye, and he called me back, asking me in Spanish to take his photo. As a photographer, especially when visiting other countries, it’s difficult to take direct photos of locals. I was thrilled to see that he was very eager to have me take his picture.
I was strolling around the neighbourhood of Cayoacan in Mexico City, taking in the lively bohemian vibes, and checking out the endless markets and food stalls, when I was stopped by three young musicians. We started chatting, and the told me about their band ‘Another Reality”. They wanted to perform a piece called “A better world” for me, and after which I took this photo of them.
The flower market in the south of Tehran sells plants, flowers and gifts in bulk. Locals visit early in the mornings to get good deals, and workers are constantly stalking up and helping customers find what they’re looking for. The bazaar is bustling with people and traffic, and as I walked the narrow lanes, it was obvious how hard working the people were, not to mention their Southern hospitality and kindness.
As I turned a corner, this smiling man was setting clothing and others goods. We spoke very briefly and exchanged smiles, until I asked him if I could take a photo of him. On a cold winter day in Tehran, and amongst the beautiful flowers and scents that lingered in the air, I snapped his photo, thanked him, and walked away.
While in Kish, an island off the southern coast of Iran, the Persian Gulf, we visited a village where the locals lived. We stopped by the local mosque, where the Sunni population would go for prayers. The small and intimate mosque had an outdoor washing station, and prayer rugs that were laid out outside. I watched as this man, a local, washed, and prepared for prayers. I then watched him as he prayed. Afterwards, we got to talking, and I snapped his photo, trying to depict the spirituality and calmness that I so admired in him.
One afternoon, we paid “khale joon” a visit (“khale” means “aunt” in Persian, “joon” means “dear”). I loved everything about her home, the courtyard, the hanging clothes, the carpets. It was a sunny day, and we sat on the terrace drinking tea, talking about my grandparents, drawing connections as to how she may have known them. Her smile was so war, her skin so soft, and her accent so local, it made me want to stay and listen to her forever.
Walking in the neighbourhood of Bjelave in Sarajevo, I came across a group of kids kicking a ball around. I stood there watching them for a while, and begin photographing them as a friend of mine joined their game. I took a photo of their smiling faces at the end, feeling grateful for local experiences that allow you to get a different feel for a place. The youngest one was a troublemaker.
While walking through the Old City in Mostar, I came across this man and his work. He was a skilled craftsman his whole life, and somehow communicated to me that he was closing his shop soon. His work was beautiful and extensive, and our exchange, despite the language barriers was even better.