Experts share how visuals have power to change the world

By Munirah Al-Fayez

KUWAIT: The society and the world of journalism, media, politics and advertising changed since the camera was invented. Now it is usually the case that we do not just use words to express what we are going through, but we also have a camera in our hand to show proof of what we mean. Kuwait Times interviewed Kuwait-based filmmaker Tamer Hanna and street photographer Rashed Al-Ajmi to ask them about their point of view on this matter. Hanna said he always had a love for movies. “Twelve years ago, I started to make short films as a hobby with my friends. Then it evolved into a profession when I started applying at film festivals.

Tamer Hanna

My first award was in 2015 in Egypt,” he said. According to Hanna, cameras have a big role in media. He explained with technology, mobile phones and high-tech cameras, everyone can now take a video or photo and the quality is good. Therefore, if someone has something to tell the world, they can easily do it from their phone, and almost everyone will be able to see it, because everyone has a mobile phone. “In the past, leaders, governments and big companies had the power, and the public could only receive. Now, the public has the power to speak up and voice their opinion with a video or a photo through social media,” he said.

The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, for example, began with one incident recorded on video that went viral and had a huge impact. According to Hanna, a camera is a very important and powerful tool that can be used to highlight an issue that people are not aware of or are not focused on. Hanna stressed how he has also used his camera to shed light on “not-so-focused-on” issues, when he made a short film called ‘The Shadow’ in 2018 about depression, which was nominated at the Jersey Shore film festival in the United States. “I also made a motivational video in 2020 about asking for help if you need it or feel down.

I uploaded the video on YouTube and it had a lot of comments on how it changed and helped people. This video raised awareness about a topic that many suffer from these days,” he said. Hanna’s advice for young people or beginners who want to start a career in photography or videography or even if they want to start it as a hobby is two things: “The first thing is never stop learning or say I’m done with learning and now it is time to apply. Every time you learn something new, you apply it, then seek something new to learn and apply. The second thing is always keep practicing and creating.

The more you practice, the more you shoot, the more you hold the camera, the more you run the camera, the better you get.” Sending social messages Ajmi explained how he fell in love with photography. “In the mid-nineties taking photos was only for memories and nothing more, but the concept still inspired me. However, then I felt like I wanted to take more professional pictures and I fell in love more with cameras,” he said. In the early 2000s, according to Ajmi, digital cameras became more mainstream and that was almost like a revolution. “The fact that we could take a picture and then see how it turned out immediately was unimaginable. This made me more attached to the camera. Taking pictures of real-life moments attracts me and it has held on to me.

Rashed Al-Ajmi

Because of that, I became a street photographer, because it is a picture of people’s daily lives in many places in the world and this feeds our needs and curiosity as humans.” Ajmi believes that knowledge of media and advertisement is the knowledge of photography at its core. “Think of the advertisements on the streets and imagine if they had no pictures. We would most likely feel like there is something missing and is not complete. In my opinion, there is no media without photography,” he said.

If not the picture of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, explained Ajmi, then the Arab Spring would not have happened, where some regimes fell in the Arab world, some changed and others arose, all because of a picture. If not for the picture of Mohammed Al-Durrah in 1997, then the second Palestinian intifada would not have happened, and that is because people are convinced with reality, and reality is a picture, he said. Ajmi spoke about his journey. “I think emotions are universal — this is why I use photography to send social messages, and I think that I am obligated to do so.

I took a picture on respecting parents and the picture won the Al-Baghli award in Kuwait. It was bought by UNICEF and was shown at the Leica Street Photo Expo in Poland,” he said. “No one can stop you from buying a camera. So, when you buy a camera, you are in front of a divergent road. You can either make the camera a cause for your happiness and other people’s happiness or make it a cause for your sadness and other people’s sadness. Choose wisely,” Ajmi advised.

The post Experts share how visuals have power to change the world appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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