We’ve been witnessing the photography scene in Bahrain recently grow and gain popularity, especially with the rise of social media and the increase in platforms through which one can share their work with the world. Even though Bahrain is a small island, we have a variety of young photographers, each with their own unique aesthetics and skills. We decided to dive into this field and get in touch with one of the prominent Bahraini photographers, Ishaq Madan, who juggles a full time banking job as well as freelancing as a professional photographer.
What did you study and what made you choose that major and not one that is photography related?
I studied banking & finance at Bangor University; I think I was inclined towards that particular major because of my mother. And not in the typical way of being forced into it, but in the sense that I used to spend hours at her office when I was a child just watching her do her magic. I would say having a first class seat to witnessing hard work and determination rubbed off on me positively.
What is it like to be doing two completely different jobs at the same time?
I love it! It’s almost like living a double life. As soon as the tie comes off, I’m a photographer; Clark Kent who? It’s not taxing, I feel invigorated to be able to handle two different spectrums. It’s quite beneficial to my personal growth, as I get to develop a range of skill sets one normally wouldn’t be able to, ranging from business relationship management, crisis aversion, and efficient multi-tasking to name a few.
How did your photography journey start?
My photography journey started when I was a child. I used to take vacation photos of the family, which sparked something in me. However, for a period of time I was distracted by other interests, so my actual photography journey began when I started my undergrad studies, which is banking & finance. Ironic, isn’t it? Somewhat a full circle looking back at it now. I was gifted aniPhone 4 and that’s where the adventure began as the boom in iPhonegraphy took centre stage in the world of photography. To this very day, I still have the photos I took on my long-lived iPhone 4 on my Instagram. I believe it’s important to look back and appreciate how far you’ve come as it plays a role in bench-marking yourself. After all, the only person you should ever be comparing yourself to is yourself.
Would you ever do photography full time?
Maybe one day, but right now the journey and the challenges that come with it are quite exciting. We’re young and full of energy during our 20s, I strongly believe we should utilize our energy and passion at this stage to strengthen and prepare us for the next stage. You never want to look back and have what-ifs. Certainly, I would love to establish my own studio, and that’s one of the goals I am working towards.
In your opinion, do you feel like Bahrain has the right ecosystem for young photographers to grow?
Honestly, as saturated the market is in Bahrain, I believe there is good ecosystem for young photographers to grow in. With businesses popping up left, right and centre, opportunities are plentiful if you’re determined to make a name for yourself. Like all things, without effort you’re not going to get anywhere. That be-ing said, we live in an age where there are countless platforms to propel from. For example, international apps such as Instagram and Youtube and local apps like Majlis. Alternatively, Tenmou and related hubs create great opportunities to build a foundation on.
Lastly, what are some tips you would share with someone looking to start a career in photography?
In the beginning, it’s ok to take on assignments on exposure basis. It’s imperative to build a portfolio and street
cred, slowly but surely the fruits of your labour will blossom. However, don’t let anyone take advantage, know your
worth. All in all, it all comes down to the act of balancing the seesaw.
If you want to look more into Ishaq’s work, you can find him on Instagram