Photos that tell a story


 

A LONE man sits waiting against a background of orange sunlight and shadows, his lined face bearing a haunted and inscrutable expression.  

Jahabar with a triptych entitled 'Hill People inGrocery Shop in Tila'. According to him, this wasthe only grocery shop in Tila, Nepal for ahundred miles around.

The photograph is simple, yet the riveting image depicted the plight of the East Timorese displaced by the maelstrom of chaos and ongoing violence in the war-torn land.  

Trite as it sounds, the photograph was captured at the spur of the moment, said photographer Jahabar Sadiq.  

“I was on an assignment capturing some footage in East Timor when I saw this man and this scenario,” said Jahabar, “so I whipped out my trusty little camera and he looked my way at the precise moment.” 

A senior television producer with Reuters, Jahabar has travelled far and wide in the course of work, and while that keeps him busy, his eyes are always peeled to catch such fleeting instances on camera.  

“I capture moments that are hard to come by in places that are hard to get to,” said Jahabar, 38, at an exhibition of some 26 photographs taken while on assignment or holiday in war-torn Afghanistan, East Timor and Nepal, as well as India and Vietnam.  

This is Jahabar's first public showcase since getting bitten by the shutterbug 15 years ago. 

The exhibition, simply entitled Photographs, is curated and presented by his close friend, Ria Johanna Waran, who is a firm believer of his talent and the real reason behind the show.  

“I had no intentions of exhibiting or selling my pictures; that was Ria's idea. I had meant to blow up some of the pictures and hang them in my apartment,” he confessed.  

Like any photographer worth his salt, Jahabar strives to tell a story in a single shot.  

Captured through the lenses of a lightweight Pentax Optio S5i digital camera, the photographs are earthy, offering a different, and evocative – if not visceral – translation of an otherwise bland scenario. 

“I like travelling light,” he sayd simply, when asked about his choice of equipment. 

While there are one or two typically tourist-y shots, Jahabar has mostly succeeded in his attempt to show his audience what he wants them to see.  

“This is my reality you're looking at,” he said, sweeping his hand across a row of photographs hanging on the wall. 

He attributed each mesmeric photograph to “being at the right place at the right time”, but humbly admitted he had been luckier than most.  

'Guard and aWoman in RedFort, New Delhi'was taken whileJahabar was inIndia to attend awedding. Theseries ofphotographstaken in Red Fortwas Jahabar'sattempt todescribe how lostand lonely onecan be despitebeing surroundedby hundreds ofpeople.'Guard and aWoman in RedFort, New Delhi'was taken whileJahabar was inIndia to attend awedding. Theseries ofphotographstaken in Red Fortwas Jahabar'sattempt todescribe how lostand lonely onecan be despitebeing surroundedby hundreds ofpeople.

While most of the pictures were spontaneously photographed, there were also a few that were “deliberate”.  

Mirror in Jaipur and Silver Urn in Jaipur was Jahabar “trying to be artsy-fartsy”, while the shots of tourist-crawling Red Fort in New Delhi were his attempt at describing how lost and lonely one could be despite being surrounded by hundreds of people.  

By the second day of the exhibition, Jahabar had sold two photographs, and while delighted, he maintained an honest outlook on what such commercialism could entail. 

“When you start selling your work, there eventually arises the question of whether you are taking pictures for yourself or to for commercial purposes.” 

He reflected a moment before continuing: “I take pictures for the sheer pleasure of it. Will I do this (have an exhibition) again? Yes, I think so.” 

Jahabar Sadiq's photographs are exhibited at 6, Lorong 5/10B, Petaling Jaya until Sunday. For a viewing appointment, call 03-7960 5075 (Ria).  

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