Photographers tell stories with ‘The Soul of Pakistan’

Seven photographers capture intriguing photographs of scenes from everyday life.

Sehrish Ali August 02, 2012


With the growing number of photography enthusiasts getting their hands on DSLR cameras, snapping pictures and then posting them on Facebook, it is refreshing to attend a photography exhibition full of interesting shots taken by professionals.

Seven seasoned photographers showcased their work at ‘The Soul of Pakistan’ – an exhibition that opened at the Nomad Gallery on Wednesday evening. With little space on the gallery walls which were adorned with various framed photographs, the exhibition seems to be an instant hit as photography lovers attended in droves. Photographers Azhar Hafeez, Abdul Razaq Vance, Abbrar Cheema, Kulsoom Aftab, Malik Ayaz Mehmood, Svitlana Plyhun and Umair Ghani all worked along the theme of depicting Pakistan and its “real” people. But each piece seems to bring an individualistic approach which spoke volumes for each photographer’s own forte.

Although each piece brings its subject to life, the pictures of the Wazir Khan mosque taken by Kulsoom Aftab, a graduate from the National College of Arts, Lahore seem to capture most of the attention. The photographs are set on a table instead of displayed on the wall, and what intrigued many is the photographer’s eye for perspective. “This mosque has been photographed by a ton of people over the years, but Aftab has managed to give different angles that make it all the more appealing and real,” said a photography enthusiast who was present at the event.

Gold medalist Azhar Hafeez’s work focuses on the expansive landscapes of the country. But his best shots are those which were taken candidly through the lens; one particular photo of a Sindhi woman adorned in traditional clothing swallowing fire had many giving it a second glance.

Abdul Raza Vance’s work gives out more of a painting effect which could perhaps be explained by his Photoshop skills as each frame shows high definition images with wide angle shots that seemed almost drawn and painted onto a canvas. Although his photos depict the life of ordinary people, his work depicts a story; a fisherman at the break of dawn throws out nets in hope to haul in fish; a little girl sits on her father’s shoulders while he strolls through a crowded market. But where Vance’s story-telling ends, Abbrar Cheema’s work takes over and continues the narrative with photographs of farmers hard at work under the sun, harvesting golden fields of wheat. “It is my aim to familiarise the world with the real Pakistan. As long as I can, I will continue doing it through my work,” Cheema stated. Besides pictures of Pakistanis, a series of photographs of Afghan people and places by Ukrainian photographer Plyhunare are also on display. These images aptly capture the expressions of young children who don’t seem camera shy in the least. Her work reminds one of the innocence of youth and the marred misconceptions of a country that has been ravaged by war for decades. “There seems to be a certain glint in the children’s eyes that one can’t look away from,” said Alia, a visitor who was admiring the photos.

Curator of the gallery, Nageen Hayat said that the aim of the exhibition was to allow people to feel pride in the country they live in. “When you enter the exhibition, you get a feeling of warmth as if wrapped in a cocoon – that’s the effect these pictures have,” she said.

The exhibition continues till August 9.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.


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