Meet photographer Faisal Farooqui, the person who has stood firm regardless of the politics, drama and mayhem in the fashion industry. While the industry has experienced its fair share of turbulence and seen many a relationship perish, Farooqui is amongst the few who have miraculously managed not only to escape the drama and politics, but also have people fight over him rather than with him.
Farooqui’s journey began 13 years ago, when the fashion fraternity was far from being a structured industry. He reminisces about a time when a fashion show comprised only six to eight models; a four-feet high ramp and inadequate lighting — a time when choreography was a fairly new concept. “Even in such conditions, the energy at fashion shows was exhilarating,” he says. “Within 10 years, we are now at a level that can be compared to fashion weeks in India.”
Today, Farooqui of Dragonfly enjoys being the official photographer for not only Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) events, but also Fashion Pakistan Week (FPW) and the Lux Style Awards (LSAs). You will spot him and his team clicking away tirelessly at every fashion week, capturing not only the red carpet, but also backstage scenes. Once the show begins, Farooqui, popularly known as Frankie, can be seen seated in the centre-most location amongst the photographers. “Ramp photography is all about time,” he says. “You do not have time to re-take shots so the two or three second window you get is extremely precious.”
“The feeling of where I sit is so exhilarating that even talking about it gives me goosebumps,” he says. His trip to Lakme India Fashion Week in 2003 opened his eyes. “I cannot say that my technique changed then, but I knew I had changed and I was looking for a change in the [Pakistani] industry.”
One wonders how Farooqui has managed to maintain ties in an industry where it takes very little to sever them. “I am no longer just Faisal Farooqui,” he says with pride. “Dragonfly is my identity. Our quality of work and perseverance to deliver is what has allowed us to last here.” The photographer admits that he does not know what the critics will like at fashion weeks or what is considered ‘stylish’. “What I know is that when I see seamless stitching through my lens, I know it [the dress] is well-composed.”
Citing designer Ali Xeeshan’s example, he says, “I do not know if people appreciated the Jalsa collection, but I could see through my camera that every hem was stitched perfectly and that is what impressed me. I called him [Xeeshan] and told him that I thought his collection was fantastic.”
The fashion industry can often be the target of vicious criticism, with the councils constantly being in the line of fire. Farooqui feels that the element that is keeping the Pakistani entertainment industry from progressing is the lack of maturity. “I have been mature since my childhood,” he says. “I take my work and life seriously and feel that what holds us [the entertainment industry] back is the lack of maturity. You will see people arguing over petty issues. They wear this sense of entitlement like a jewel in their crown, as if to say ‘don’t you know who I am?’,” he said.
“Politics will always be there,” he continues. “No industry will ever be politics-free, but we need to learn how to rise above it. Our media is not mature and this maturity will only come with time and when new blood starts coming in and changing the way things are done.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.
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