'My photography has enlightened me in many ways'

Capturing Moments

A young boy from humble beginnings, fights against odds to overturn preconceived notions and mindsets and emerges as an undisputed champion of destiny.

Now on the boulevard of fond memories, he turns to his first tryst with his eternal companion ‘the camera’. Ahmed Kamal Saifi recounts the first time he held the camera.

“My camera is my girlfriend, but it took some time to fall in love,” says Saifi smiling. His love with the lens began five years back during his Mass Communication course at Jamia Milia Islamia University. To stop clicking is unimaginable for him now.

Ambitious and unstoppable, Saifi remembers that, “I rarely attended classes and ventured into every street, nook and cranny for photo shoots.” His classmates laughed at him when professors taunted him. “I was never into studies and was a weak student,” says Saifi.

“I decided that I have to prove them wrong and started working harder. Soon, I won my first competition in photography when I was 22,” Saifi said.

Saifi’s quest in life changed when he first “discovered the mystical connection between the camera and reality”. And since then he has been trekking through unknown forests and arid places, capturing glimpses of the inconstant nature its various moods, the flora and wildlife.

Recalling one of his ‘thrilling’ memories, Saifi’s eyes lit up with a sudden rush of excitement. “During one of my photo shoots, I had an encounter with a leopard that was just five metres away from me. Terrified, I looked back to see my friends becoming tinier, running in different directions. I was paralysed, the thought of leaving my camera behind seemed impossible,” said Saifi, emphasising on the word ‘impossible’.

“That day I could not capture the moment, as the moment was not about the leopard, but about the fear on my face, which was behind the camera. So, I stood there like a tree, till the leopard vanished, I miss that shot,” he added.

Photography is Saifi’s first love and he is an ardent fan of the wildlife photo journalist Steve Winter, whom he has been following since he wasa child. His telling shot of the female toad guarding her eggs during sunset, won him the Bu Tinah Island International Photography in 2011.

Before and after, he won various positions in other International and National photography competitions. His work in the short film Humsafar (2013) won him The Best Cinematography Award in the national category at the 6th Filmsaaz, 2013.

“I was there during the Muzzaffarnagar riots. I saw hundreds being killed in front of me. There may be many words that can describe such a situation, but none for me. Camera generally attracts people, and that day too a bunch of children had gathered around me. They told me stories of how they saw their parents being cut open in front of them. I am not good with words, but I tried to make up by showing them some photographs I had clicked.

I remember them smiling unassumingly. That smile, is not to be termed unforgettable, but as a gift. My photography has also enlightened me in many ways,” says Saifi “Somewhere, I always knew this would be my identity someday,” he confides.

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