Does Photography Flourish in Difficult Times?

Does Photography Flourish in Difficult Times?

The COVID-19 lockdowns may have cancelled festivals and closed down museums around the world, but some artists have continued to thrive.  

Emirati photographer Jalal Bin Thaneya told Arab News that in his field the pandemic has only slowed down artistic photography.

“Some documentary and news photographers are still able to work, especially those employed by organizations and governments fighting the virus,” Thaneya said. “Documenting and getting images of what is happening on the ground is extremely important.”

“Photography records moments,” the artist said. “In World War II, (the American photographer) Margaret Bourke-White was actively taking pictures and she has been a big influence on me.”

This, he believes, is an example of how photography and art have flourished during difficult times.

Despite the delays the lockdown has imposed on Thaneya’s projects, he says he now has got more time to work on his unpublished pictures.

“Priorities have shifted overnight. I have many images I made that I never showed which I’m currently compiling. The lockdown has given me time to organize myself and prepare for future projects,” he said.

The self-taught artist, who enjoys capturing industrial facilities and ghostly landscapes, said: “What I do is very niche and not widely appreciated in the region.”

He discovered his passion by “accident” in 2013. “I saw old architecture being demolished at the Jabal Ali port and it is from that point that I started taking pictures of abandoned spaces before focusing on industrial landscapes and artefacts from 2016 to date.”

Thaneya believes that many people look down on his job. “However, if I listened to what people said, I would’ve stopped many years ago,” he added.

“You’ve got to follow your intuition and do things that give you purpose. Listening and following the crowd will only dilute your character and individual essence,” he advised other photographers who wish to pursue this career.

“We cannot allow others to do the thinking for us, we need to be clear and focused on what we would like to achieve,” Thaneya said.

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