Every year in May, when circumstances are normal, I settle down in the North where I meet mountains, the valleys, the culture and above all the friendly people of these valleys. There, I love to capture nature, as there in the cool, serene ambience of the north, nature is in its truest form.
I do this out of an urge from my spirits, my soul—to capture and bring the beauty of that area to my countrymen here in Pakistan and all those in the world who love nature and all things natural.
by Nayyar Hashmey
Nadeem Khawar may not be a household name, but if you have a touch with the world’s most beautiful mountain range, then name must be known to you. In fact, it might be even on a wall calendar you have hung up in your office or the living room.
His photographs on flickr.com are viewed by hundreds of people every day and comments by viewers are just a testimony to the superb job Nadeem does with his shutter clicks.
At his modest office in Lahore’s camera lane, I had the chance to have an informal chat with Nadeem about his experiences and path to earn a name in creative photography.
How did you get into photogrpahy?
Like many others I first took photography as a hobby; on some special occasions I would capture the moods but I was never successful. I always blamed my old style camera. Then in the blues I slipped to Japan where I had the chance of getting better cameras and the gadgets. I went on trying a better version every time yet I could not improve, so I talked to my Japanese friends. They gladly shared their ideas with me; and vow! This was the turning point. I started to learn photo art and joined the photography classes to understand the basics of photographic technology. Slowly— and—steadily I started to improve and finally I was on the edge of understanding the very spirit of photography.
I’ve seen your photographs on Flickr.com with tons of appreciation from your viewers on That website. What did prompt you to use Flickr.com?
Flickr.com is a huge site which provides the worldwide community of photographers, the chance to show their work to others and share individual experiences with every one in the field. It’s an excellent community. Flickr offers info on how to improve technically and artistically—and it allows endless possibilities of interacting with other members. I think Flickr is a very effective way to get your images to the outside world and get some exposure at a scale beyond any limitation.
You have done excellent pics of Pakistan heritage sites. Then you are often to family photo shoots too. The mountains of the north are another avenue which very often take you to those far off places capturing the grandeur and awe inspiring valleys of the northern mountains. How can you cope with such diverse realms?
As I said before I do commercial work to generate income because otherwise I could not earn a penny to run my kitchen. As a professional photographer too, I accept challenges and I am quite satisfied with what I do. My customers are more than happy with my work.
I believe commercial photography is a planned and well thought out venture and a photographer who has the skills can do this nicely but nature photography is quite a different game. Here one needs to have passion and patience (and a lot lot patience…) as one has to reach points where a normal person would not even think of approaching. Mostly I have to wait days and weeks for a better sight, yet it may happen, that even after a wait of many weeks I do not get the result I would wish; so I have had to come back because on those high altitudes rations get consumed and then there are other similar problems which can be sorted out down on the plains or in the valleys only. So I wait the whole season to attempt it the very next year. I never miss the occasion no matter how long I must wait.
What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Nature is my forte but my real passion is mountains and Bergkultur. There on the high mountains I find myself always ready to move out and capture whatever may appeal or fascinate me. And I like to do experiments. Some time when inclement weather prevails; which is quite often there, I move down to the valleys. I meet the village souls and try to capture the faces, the moods and actions of these people who are very near to nature. I find this also interesting, sometimes intriguing but nevertheless highly fascinating.
Photographer(s) whose work you respect and admire.
There are a good number of them but specifically I love the work by National Geographic’s Steve McCurry and the Japanese Mountain Photographer Shiro Shirahata and Gallen Rowell.
What inspired your interest in photography and what continues to inspire you?
Drama of hide and seek that light always plays with a photographer, inspires me and of course the work done by my seniors. I always find maself eager to learn from them and try to follow their style, is reflected in my efforts.
Any formal training in the art and science of photography? Did you go to (art) school?
Yeah, I learned it in Japan, and still I am learning. I like the book than the jacket.
What sort of equipment and software do you use?
I love the latest equipment in this age of digital technology. Digital revolution has taken everybody with a surprise. It’s there in the movies, in documentaries and in photo arts as well. So to keep pace with requirements of the modern era I do want to use the latest gadget available. I am on Photoshop now and I spend a lot of time on ma desktop. I love to play with Photoshop, it’s an amazing tool to create and improve.
How many photos do you take on a photo-shoot?
Depends on the shoot, but my craving, my pangs to capture the moment never stop until and unless I am done to my satisfaction.
Any plans to make your collections available for the public to download and use as wallpapers?
My web designer is working these days on ma web site http://www.nadeem khawar.com which is under construction—once it gets ready, it will showcase ma work and lovers of photo arts would then be able download my work from there.
What is your opinion on post-processing, especially enhancing pictures?
Post -processing with a purpose is good and many try it too. Some time due to bad light and, another time due to flaw of the camera when photographer cannot show exactly what he saw at site, is OK but if any one mixes the photos than it is bad, for example if any one tries to show the glaciers of Rakaposhi in front of K-2 or things like this, then its really bad; its misinformation which a good photographer always avoids while doing the processing job. On the other hand if someone tries to enhance colors and contrast or a slight change here and there for the viewers, then it should be OK.
Your favorite location to take pictures? Mountains, heritage!
For a photographer, every place is a wonderland; and he tries to utilize every chance, every choice to capture different things. My photography about mountains has some meaning for me, so my main attention always pitches on this aspect. I love mountains and the people who live there. I want to showcase the beauty, the wonder and charm of the north to the whole world.
I like to present Pakistan’s mountainous terrain as a symbol of beauty and grandeur of nature. This is the magic, the zauber of these mountains that takes me to those, high altitude, harsh but awfully beautiful mountains.
There is absolutely no doubt about it, only Pakistani mountains offer such beauty, See the 2nd highest mountain of the world or go to the beaches or even drive through the deserts. The thrill, the adventure, the scene—no other country has so much to offer.
The most spectacular place you’ve ever been?
The Baltoro region. Standing in front of K-2 was really spectacular. I can never forget that day when I woke up one morning at pre dawn and peeped through the window of my tent. Gosh! K-2 was standing just naked before me. For this shot I spent nearly two months and had camped at Concordia for ten days, Bad weather loomed large on the horizon, it was like a big wall before me but finally on eleventh day the morning brought the cheers to me, words fail me when I intend to describe the scene.
Your message to other enthusiasts in photography who aspire to what you’ve achieved?
I will say if any one likes to be a nature photographer he should remember it is a very time taking, very nerve raking Job. If you can’t spare time, can’t be patient, then you can never achieve. Passion and commitment to your job is the name of the game. Nature Photography is not a source of income per se (especially here in Pakistan). Never ever take it as simple; it should be your love affair.
Credit: Photographs by Nadeem Khawar.
Update: Nadeem has since released the newest photos from his collections at high-resolution on flickr.com. Go get them now!
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