The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, in partnership with the Rhodes Island School of Design, has established the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Emerging Artists Fellowship (SEAF), a year-long program, to support 16 promising artists in the UAE from the various visual art disciplines. We caught up with one of the selected artists - Emirati photographer Obaid Mohammed AlBudoor.
Al Budoor's work has grown increasingly popular in the region and his clients include the likes of National Geographic and Vice. We spoke to the talented photographer and discussed his passion for photography and the impact the SEAF program has had on his art.
How has the SEAF program impacted your photography?
SEAF gave me the tools and mindset required to understand my artwork beyond just the aesthetics. Its direct impact - now when I approach or create new work, I ask myself questions that resonate deeper with the ‘why’ and ‘what am I capturing’, instead of just the ‘how’. I used to inherently know why I was taking photos for myself, but the experience I gained with SEAF enables me to convey what I am capturing, and why I am capturing it.
Additionally, I feel that the critiques from the community that we have established have helped make my artwork more refined. Though it’s still quite early to tell the gravity of its impact, I can already feel it a few months after the program ended.
Your images are very multicultural. Is it directly inspired by the multi-cultural environment in the UAE?
I think it may be, subconsciously. My aim with most of my work is to transpose elements of the sublime into my images. Additionally, I must attribute a large part of my learning, and mental development to interacting with diverse groups; be it ethnically or religiously speaking, practising different arts, etc. I try my best to learn from all, and, now more than ever, I seek to capture and attempt to understand different cultures. It is one of my upcoming projects.
With the rise of various software, what steps do you take as a photographer to not take away from the authenticity and essence of an image?
Software is only there to enable one to take his work further. Most of my work is only edited to taste, it’s never distorted from the actual view that is in front of the lens. I also tend to work alone in secluded areas, and make sure that all processes leading up to the capture are as authentic and as real as possible. However, I think that a lot of my work can be labelled as hyper-realistic, in terms of the angles or the time of day that I try to capture.
What is your opinion on the photography community in the UAE? And what can one do to meet other photographers?
Booming! Now more than ever, people are picking up photography. It's a huge arena, with so many things that you can do. We already have many established photographers - both locals and residents - and I’d say 99% are very approachable! I started delving into the community more and more through Instagram. The best time to meet up with them is during winter, checking out city-based accounts like @IGersDubai and @ADgrammers, who host ‘photowalks’ and meet-ups regularly. That’s how I got introduced to many of the talented people we have in the UAE.
What’s next for you?
Trying to combine my love for photography, exploration and landscapes with education and teaching - I aim to become a leading Phototour operator in the country within the next year. Five years hopefully in the GCC, and 10-12 in the wider MENA region. Currently, I am undertaking large-scale corporate or tourism-based jobs, which I hope will dwindle in the next year and shift to pure Phototour-based operations. I am also working more on video these days, just as a storytelling tool - but you never know what the future will bring, and you never know how one will truly grow with time. I am excited to see what happens next!
Catch Al Budoor and 15 other artists work on display at Warehouse 421 open until November 4.
Images Courtesy: Warehouse 421