The Flamboyant Penman

Ahmed Samir is a young journalist, writer, and translator based in Abu Dhabi. Being published in The Huffington Post, Al-Hayat, The Hill, The Express Tribune, and others (in English and Arabic), it is my great honour to invite him to blog about our photoshoot together. 

His words make me feel so very lucky and humble to do what I love, and make it all worth the while! The grandest efforts to all my fellow photographers out there, we are truly appreciated by some of the great people out there!

Thank you so much Ahmed for giving me your precious time and for being my first guest blogger.

Without further ado, let the guest blogging begin! 

The First Photo-shoot of My Life: Nabeela Huda Shocks Me

(Ahmed Samir, 2015) I should perhaps begin with a disclaimer: yes, I know Nabeela personally and yes, that factored a lot in my decision to write this post. But what it decidedly hasn’t affected is the praise yours truly is about to voice. Let’s begin.

Around two weeks ago, I slid into my best suit (I only own three, but that’s the best-looking one) and let Nabeela Huda work her magic on me, an unprepared non-model whose best idea of a self-portrait involves an iPhone’s front-facing camera. 

That day, I made two gigantic discoveries. The first was: it’s not the model who looks good in the aftermath of a photo-shoot. Sometimes, it’s the photographer who makes it or breaks it – and in my case, Nabeela made it: It takes a skilled photographer to position a model – if I would be as exaggerative and mistaken as to refer to myself as a ‘model’ – and tell them how to handle themselves. It takes an astute eye to pick the best location (like when she positioned against a fancy office high-rise) and the best angle (like when she climbed on top of a bench to get a top-down view of me). It was effortless. I hardly did anything at all except stand like she told me to, and look where she told me to, and stand still (except, of course, when she wanted to take a moving shot – an “in their element” shot). 

The second discovery, however, was a lot more personal (and nostalgic). The first time I met Nabeela it was during my very first internship (at the time we were both interning at Tempo magazine) and naturally, I was terrified of everyone around me. I had been told that she was a great photog, but I hadn’t seen any of that firsthand – so why believe it? Seeing is believing – and I hadn’t (yet) seen. 

But then she came, she saw, she photographed – and afterwards, I gave everyone who’d complimented her that much more credit for their kind words, which I might have superficially believed, but only lately gave full credence to. 

And like the journalist I am, I couldn’t help but pick Nabeela’s brain and ask a few questions to complement my (first) guest post on her blog. (Um, if you want to do more shoots and more guest posts, Bee, I’m more than willing.)

The quintessential question first: Why photography? And since when? 
Photography to me is like a creating a 3D piece of art in front of my eyes and all I have to do is press click to make it still. I can story tell by interacting with my subjects, making it exactly the way I want it, and styling it in the exact mood I want it in!

I’ve always lived with a camera on my face, for as long as I can remember.

(Ahmed: I guess that shows in the fact that you’re comfortable with the camera. During the photo-shoot, half the time I didn’t even feel like you were working.)
Every photographer has a giveaway, a signature. What's yours? (What do you focus on most?)
I believe the eyes give away a lot. I try to engage my subject with my audience by narrating a scenario and having them act it out. It's like the bold theatrics and/or the most elegant dance routines. I want my images to be impactful, delicious and represent beauty, which is the subject's true and honest self. 
What's the most important photo shoot you've ever worked on? (Besides mine, of course :p)
I would say yours, because I still have to impress you :P

All photoshoots have been important to me for different reasons; some for personal (i.e. the recent breast cancer campaign) and others professionally (i.e. quick portrait session with the VPs of International Consultancy).
Which is more important: composition, or lighting, or something else? What makes a truly great photo, according to you? 
Lighting sets mood and is top priority. Even with the greatest gears, perfect composition, stunning subjects and million dollar props, nothing can mess you up as much as lighting

(Ahmed: another photographer told me to my face that a ten-dirham disposable camera, in the hands of a skilled photog, is “better than a 7D*.” So go figure.) 
The most iconic photo taken by anyone, according to you. Something you'd have hanging on your wall. 
Milton H. Greene’s Marilyn Monroe Series of: Ballerina awaiting Her Cue. The subject interaction is divine (well so was the subject), the simplicity was her beauty, the key was her expression. I can’t get enough of that photo ever! It just keeps me wondering what could happen next.
Artists have—sometimes strange—rituals. Do you? 
I get nervous before my shoots the night before, and I feel terribly anxious. like to become a hermit and stay home as much possible without having too much fun. I am not superstitious but maybe this will help me perform better the next day? :P (Ahmed: I have a few rituals that have to do with writing; I used to only write while standing up, and sometimes I shout at people who try to talk to me while I write.)

And with that, I leave you with these, the photos my very first photo-shoot produced: 


- Ahmed Samir

PS: He was also a pretty easy person to work with :D :)
PSS: Also, a 7D is an expert-level Canon DSLR camera