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Library of Inspiration

Taking the Road Less Travelled

Having grown up with pen and pencil in hand, Ali Awais has always had the instinct to preserve moments. From drawing to photography, it seemed like a natural progression for him. Growing up, he bore witness to his father’s massive collection of photographs, all of Ali’s childhood memories immortalised, this would forever serve as his motivation.

“So with much effort and waiting, I was finally able to get my hands on a 5-megapixel digital camera in 2006. Since then, photography had become a larger than life thing for me. I bought my first DSLR Camera in 2012, which was the Nikon D90 with a AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR lens. I have then further developed a more serious interest in photography.”

Not only does photography empower Ali to share his personal viewpoint of the world, but it aided him in promoting the beautiful landscapes of Pakistan through different social platforms. For those who love travel and those who have never set foot in this country, it acts as a gateway into a new adventure.

“I have been shooting so many different things ever since I started photography. Be it architecture, street photography, portraiture, macro, nature, event photography, product photography or landscape – I enjoyed them all. But if I had to choose a favourite, I would pick landscape. It offers so much variety and has the capability to enhance one’s imagination. ”

After years of playing with different styles and techniques, he has settled on crating images that exude ‘realistic art with a touch of drama’, keeping his images as close to reality as he sees it, providing the audience a new perspective.

Often going on photo excursions with a group of friends, they travel 3 to 4 times a year together to find remote places of interest that remain largely unexplored. This takes some planning and co-ordination, however, when it comes to capturing something close by, he grabs his camera and calls his friends before heading out for the day.

It seems his most rewarding experiences occur with good friends at his side, Ali recounts one in particular back in December 2013; after attending a friend’s wedding, he was due to leave on the next day, but as his inspiration called, he had to be whisked away.

“My friend’s uncle, who happens to be a very good photographer, asked me if I want to join him for a photography session to capture some nomad shepherds. I said yes and went with him, we spent around 4-5 hours capturing those moments. I had never experienced that before, the shepherds moving through rough dusty roads, it was a sight to behold.  Of the many pictures that I captured that day, one turned out to be a game changer for me. It accelerated my motivation to improve my photography skills.”

The image in question features a young Afghan girl leading her herd of animals towards a field in order for them to graze upon. Her commanding stance and stern look was complimented by dust rising up from the ground and her sheep eagerly following her. The image he captured that day won him distinctions in two national level photography competitions, secured him 7th place in a contest organized by a leading English newspaper and got him 2nd place in a competition held by Nikon Pakistan in 2015. This image has become a favourite of his and is a testament to living in the moment.

A more memorable moment happened recently in his travels, March 2016, when Ali and his friends gathered for an expedition up into the snow top mountains. As they reached an altitude of 3200 meters, the snow began to fall heavily and the weather began to get rough. Whilst his friends decided to venture further, Ali stood still to take in his surroundings, photographing the beautiful snow-capped hills.

Entranced by the view before him, it took him a while to see a fresh, large paw print stamped into the snow beside him. All alone, a shiver ran down his spine as he thought of what animals could be in range, he quickly snapped a picture and ran down to the base camp, adrenaline pumping,  determined not to look back. Later a guide told him it was likely the footprint of a bear, a statement that won’t soon be forgotten.

Depending on the subject, Ali uses a range of gear to help achieve the best aesthetics. He typically packs his Nikon D90 for all occasions along with the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. For lighting, he uses 4 different flashlights, including the Nikon SB-300 Speedlight.

He also uses a custom ring light made for close-up portrait shows. In the next few months, he plans on getting the Nikon D610. “I think for me a flash light, a wide angle lens and a tripod are a must have photography equipment along with a DSLR camera of course.”

Chasing his next big adventure, there is no doubt that Ali will continue to uncover the wonders that Pakistan holds, his gift for the rest of the world to enjoy. Whilst still putting pen to paper, he captures the world in both art and imagery, building an ever-growing snapshot of the world that surrounds him.

About Ali

Ali Awais is a 26 years old business school graduate, a freelance graphic designer and a hobbyist photographer. He resides in a city famed for its food and lively people, Lahore, the capital city of Pakistan’s province Punjab.