Saturday, January 7, 2012

Exhibition focuses on simple men

"I think men have a beautiful simplicity to them," said Amnah Raisi, the 20-year-old student of economics from the American University of Sharjah.

She was talking about her "Men of The UAE" photography exhibition, which was held at the Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre at the Mall of the Emirates. The exhibition ended yesterday.

She explained that the aim of the exhibition featuring portraits of 19 Emirati men from different fields of work, was to shed light on role models and for the younger generation of Emirati to see and break stereotypes. It was also meant to give them exposure, which might not be provided often by the local media.

The photographs showed a diverse group of men, from different generations, each striving for the best in their own fields, whether it was in the role of the father, the modern fisherman or the globalised youth.

"This all started as an idea two years ago, and back then I thought it was going to be one of my many ideas which I never implemented. But as time passed by, it started becoming more real," Amnah said.

"I decided to use an old passion which was writing, and a new passion, photography, to bring this project to life."

Through simple captions, the candid portraits, which were taken in natural environments and barely edited, aim at conveying "real" moments from the men's lives.

"I won't label myself as a photographer. All what I tried to do through the photos was to capture a moment that moved me, and which I tried to use to get a message across to the viewer."

As simple as the concept might seem, the hard work put in it was remarkable. "I had an hour and a half long photography session with each of these men and took almost 500 photos per session, in order to get the perfect shot. I worked daily for two months to complete it."

When asked about what the choice of the specific men for her project was based on, Amnah said that they were individuals from her community whom she admired, and knew how much they had achieved.

All of this would never have been possible without her family and friends, Amnah added. "This project made me realise that you have to push your family to the limit to actually see how supportive they are."

She was also given a lot of guidance from a discussion group called Promise of a Generation (POAG), which was established in 2009 and serves as a platform that brings together young people.

Follow her on twitter @Amoon_JR