ISLAMABAD: Sa’adia Khan views herself as a nomad, an aesthetic voyageur. Not to risk is not to live, feels this consummate traveller whose passion for photography defines who she is.
Born and raised in the UK with a degree in Estate and Property Management, Khan worked as an estate agent in London for nine years. “London’s streets are riddled and ooze with history, diverse architecture and culture. I somehow always knew property management wasn’t my calling,” expressed the 45-year-old.
The photographer has been frequently travelling to Pakistan since she was three and experienced rural life at its very basic: no electricity or washroom facilities, not till a much later trip at the age of 12. “Sleeping under the stars and spending the days walking though the fields added perspective and I started viewing the world differently,” she said.
“It was during a trip, when I was 14, that an uncle gifted me my first SLR camera,” she said.
Khan started experimenting with photography during the visit, wanting to adopt it as a profession someday.
“I was diagnosed with dyscalculia when I failed my GCSE Mathematics exam at the age of 15,” she shared. There were two ways to view this — it could have either hindered my photography skills when dealing with aperture and shutter speed adjustments or I could have focused on chasing my dream since all other senses felt sharper. She chose the latter.
The photographer told The Express Tribune that childhood photography was what defined her; who, what and where she is today. “I love that moment of silence that is interrupted only by the sound of a shutter release,” she said.
At 29, Khan got married and moved to Pakistan. “It is a blessing to be able to travel and experience different cultures and cities,” she shared. She set up a studio at her place in Lahore where she began shooting professionally and enjoyed many photo-walks in and around the walled city, weaving through bazaars, getting a hang of street photography.
After living in Lahore for about two years, Khan and her husband moved to Dubai. “The best way to describe Dubai is as an oyster shell with many pearls,” she said. In Dubai, she tried her hand at landscapes and architecture.
The photographer presently covers human-interest stories from FATA and Balochistan. PHOTOS: SA’ADIA KHAN
When Khan moved back to Pakistan in 2013, she decided to pick a niche. “In terms of favourable, I lean towards human-interest stories; however the niche of expertise that I have embarked upon since I settled in Pakistan is humanitarian --- maternal and infant mortality.” She has travelled to Fata and Balochistan to tell photo-stories covering issues of maternal and infant mortality.
Khan feels hugely privileged to be able to access areas such as Fata and Balochistan, since she from a very young age believed that to risk nothing is to have nothing. “Thus far it has been an adventure of unequivocal challenges and pleasures. However, in my view this is just the beginning,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2015.