Bahrain Through The Lens of a Street Photographer, A Story
Khalid AlJabri describes himself simply as ‘A guy with a camera’. Khalid has been taking pictures of the many corners of Bahrain for years and has established himself as a Street Photographer, even becoming the Bahraini to be featured by Instagram on their blog. We talked to Khalid to know more about his work, journey and the love for capturing moments, and here’s his story.
I’ve always been into photography, but I never thought of myself a photographer. It still feels awkward being called a photographer, I prefer to call myself ‘just a guy with a camera’.
Street photography for me started off as more of an accident, when I moved to Manama, where my parents grew up, a few years back. Not knowing much about the place, out of curiosity I’d go around exploring the area with my camera. For four months I’d go every day and started taking photos of the places and people. While doing this, I had no goal in mind, I’d just capture anything I found interesting or that caught my attention. I started posting the pictures I took on Instagram, and four years later, Instagram reached out to me for a blog feature.
I quit my full-time job a year ago and now I'm a full-time freelance photographer, doing what I enjoy the most, which is photography.
Being a Photographer
Photography will always be something personal to me but what I hope is to take the documentation part of it more seriously and create a professional career out of it.
I basically work on personal projects and whatever that crosses my mind. That’s the thing with photography, if you don’t have a particular theme in mind it would be very hard to create something, which is what happened to me when I first started. From that experience, I learned the importance of planning ahead and creating a single theme to stick with.
One of the most things a photographer should do is create a portfolio, I learned this is the hard way. And the second thing is to organize your gallery, there are even helps that can help with that. Photography can be for anyone, it just needs a lot of dedication and consistency to be a photographer. If you don't push yourself and dedicate your time, you won't be able to create anything. This applies to not only photography but also any other form of art. Just keep taking photos, no matter how ridiculous it may seem or how many bad photos you take, you need to keep going.
Someone once told that the difference between a photographer and a professional photographer is the ability to sell your work. I wouldn’t call myself either yet, I don’t think anyone can label someone as a photographer or not. As long as you enjoy doing something and are passionate about it, just keep doing it, the label doesn’t matter. I’m actually self-taught and over the years I learned that it’s not as simple as it may seem. I think 50% of it your eyes, thought process and emotions and 50% is the general rules of photography. But sometimes, to me at least, it is 95% emotions and the ability to project your emotions onto what you see and produce the photos you want.
The market for selling and buying pictures is very niche but it is possible to sell your work if you promote yourself well enough. I don't necessarily put up my work for sale, but people still do approach me to buy them through Instagram.
Photography in Bahrain
In Bahrain, you can see different kinds of photographers from fashion, ad, food or events, which are more commercial, to more artistic ones. There is an excellent market for commercial photography in Bahrain and in the region. But studio photography is different from street photography in the way that in a studio the photographer has control over the surroundings and how the pictures would turn out.
I’m glad that a lot of people are now taking up street photography. When I first started there were barely any archives of pictures from Manama, so I tried to document as much as I could. So now when I see people going to Manama and taking pictures, I can only imagine what the archive would be like.
In Bahrain, places like Sheikh Ebrahim Centre provide great opportunities like workshops and exhibits for photographers. There’s also Malja , the space they have is amazing is also available to everyone. Then there is Instagram, it is a very important tool to showcase your work and you need to consider it as professional medium and take it seriously. Just submit your work for exhibits and open calls, meet other photographers and try to be as involved as possible.