Zahir Abbas is a passionate street photographer from Lexington, Kentucky USA. He is a member of In-Street collective and finalist for the Mobile category in Street Photo San Francisco festival’ 2017.
For Zahir, street photography is “The challenge to create something unique and beautiful out of a mundane and routine situation. Sometimes its also a challenge to create something out of a very difficult condition. The thrill to bring together various visual elements into a single canvas is unbelievable.”
Thanks, Zahir for accepting for the invite. Please read on…
Hi Zahir, thank you for joining us here today! First, could you please introduce yourself?
Thank you for the opportunity. I am a photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky USA. My day job is of a Business consultant working in the area of generating business insights with the help of data analytics and AI.
Please share some of your childhood memories towards the art?
I remember I use to own a Zenit Camera and I would roam around taking pictures in family weddings and travels. I was also into sketching and pencil drawing.
When did you start shooting and how did this love for photography happen?
I was taking photographs since my school days. But I started doing serious photography since the last 3-4 years. That is when I discovered candid/street photography.
What makes street photography so special for you?
The challenge to create something unique and beautiful out of a mundane and routine situation. Sometimes its also a challenge to create something out of a very difficult condition. The thrill to bring together various visual elements into a single canvas is unbelievable.
What do you look for when deciding who to photograph?
I would replace “who” with what to photograph. I am always looking for conditions which can help me create something inquisitive or simple pretty. Situations where there are intertwined elements (light, forms, objects, humans, animals, color, texture…) connected in some way, I am happy to press the shutter and find what gets created.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
I would like the viewer to feel touched in some way after seeing my photographs. They should spend 3 mins thinking about the picture. That should be a big thing for me.
What was the proudest moment in your photography career so far?
I was happy when a couple of my pictures were published in Raghu Rai’s magazine. I was also very happy when some of the pictures got published in Kaushal Parikh’s lovely erstwhile magazine called “Deep Freeze”.
You are a member of In-Street Collective. When did you join this group and a few words about your fellow members?
I joined in-Street collective in 2017. This is a bunch of extremely talented individuals. I respect their work. Specially, their dedication and enthusiasm in promoting the genre of street photography in India.
What is that you have adhered and learned through photography over the years?
Keep experimenting and never constrain yourself with any definition. Have fun with the camera and keep it simple in terms of messaging.
What is a good photograph for you?
A good photograph for me is that which is simple in messaging. Something which I don’t have to spend hours trying to figure out. I don’t like to intellectualize photographs. For me either I get it or not.
Which photographers have inspired you?
Many of them. Naming some won’t be correct. But I do get inspired by the path some of the contemporary Indian photographers continue to show on how to grow and keep hustling. My first mentor Swarat Ghosh and my first supporter Babul Bhatt. I am also a big fan of a crazy artist called Suvomoy Mitra.
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
Since you asked, iPhone XR, Fujifilm Instax, Fujifilm XT1+23mm in that order
Any favorite photography books?
Some of them do but I won’t like to name any specific (that’s because I can’t remember the names readily). I am looking forward to the book which Suvomoy Mitra created.
What does Zahir do when not behind the lens?
I read about the cultures, History, photography books, go and visit some museums when I travel, etc.
What is your favorite motto?
It keeps changing with age and phase of life, nowadays I love the one which says “First two you give, last one you earn” (This is from the apparel brand Under Armour)
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
I travel a lot due to work, therefore I like to spend time with my family.
Thanks again for providing 121 clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thank you for this. I can say, photography is not everything. Your life is much bigger than this and photography is just one aspect of you. So, enjoy the “bigger picture”. Spend time with family and friends, do other stuff. You don’t have to always shoot pictures. You don’t have to share every shot. Meet people, chat, walk, commit stupid mistakes, smile. It’s ok to miss few shots.
You can find Zahir Abbas on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Zahir Abbas. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.