Expressions from an Artist

Expressions from an Artist

By Rafique Sayed

Rafique stumbled upon photography more by chance than choice. He has gone from shooting professional fashion models to portraits of real people, nature, still life, even cars and hotels. Rafique Sayed speaks to Asian photography about his experience as a photographer.

It is a cliché to say that time changes everything, and sometimes it changes completely all that you hold dear. Photographers of today will never understand the joy of shooting film. It called for experience and technical excellence; the visualisation of an image before capturing it on film, waiting for the right light, framing and composition. The nervous wait when the film went for processing, and then the thrill of getting a contact sheet in your hands.

Soon came the digital cameras and no one anticipated its ‘invasion’, or expected them to be so complete. Polaroid, all kinds of film and processing, Darkrooms and photo-labs vanished practically overnight.

With the push of a button the image was live in front of you. I admit that I was shaken by this medium. The digital camera was in my hands, but there was hardly anyone to guide or explain its use. The first one had many inadequacies and to begin with, they were slow. They didn’t function in extreme climates. No one told us all this and ‘one lived and learned’.

It all changed very swiftly. Pre-visualisation changed to post production. Technology became the master and the camera, nonetheless, was a tool. I accepted the new reality as change is the only constant thing in life. Life is moving on right now, as we speak!

As a photographer, I don’t have a specific genre or style that I shoot; it is to be judged by the people. I have explored across genres and there is no specific style that I prefer over others. The most important thing is to have a graphic sense in all the photographs. I have gone through almost all kinds of genres, except wildlife and landscape. I concentrate much more on fine art photography, be it portrait, fashion or nudes etc. It is a journey for me, and I am passionate about what I do. Passion is what drives my photographs and I like to explore a lot.

With the introduction of the Sony Alpha 7 series, I was nervous about using small cameras. However, once I started shooting with them, my nervousness turned into confidence. I enjoyed shooting with the A7R and especially love the black & white image. The contrast is magical without the use of Photoshop. I really felt that my days of film are back.

Then came Sony A7M2. This is the first and only camera where vibrations disappear in full frame sensor with the help of 5-Axis image stabilisation. Simply amazing! One is always worried about shake in digital images. When pixel size is small in high mega pixel cameras then chances of shake is huge. Here is a camera you can use without worrying about such technical problems. The camera simply resolves the problem. With Sony I breathe easy.

  • Image shot using Sony A7M2...

  • Image shot using Sony A7M2...

  • Image shot using Sony A7M2...

Equipment used during journey

About Rafique Sayed

When I was a child, I was only interested in cricket. Pictures never attracted me, ads held no meaning. Photographers were a non-entity, and models were never more beautiful than my English teacher.

I came into professional photography more by chance than choice. To excel became a matter of pride, and I chose fashion as my field of specialisation, which brought name, fame, arrogance and a narrow vision. Beauty came to be defined as a perfect physical entity, not more, not less. Photography was: turning people into beautiful, babydoll images, expressionless, but beautiful. Lines of character – which, according to Audrey Hepburn, are lines of knowledge – started vanishing; if not by makeup and lighting, then, by the simple stroke of a mouse.

After ten to twelve years, it all seems like history. For I awoke one morning, and unlike the great Dali who used to think what the great man would do that morning, I found that I had nothing to do.

I had an almost empty canvas before me, with very few pictures of fashion and beauty in one corner... the rest was as naked as truth.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, “How mean am I when life gives me gold and I give you silver, and yet I deem myself generous.” I tried to discard the tag of fashion photographer, and for a change, shot portraits of real people, nature, still life, even cars and hotels. The more I put on my plate, the hungrier I became. My canvas is still empty. I need people to help me fill it up with creative, meaningful and out of the ordinary work.

I want to give gold for gold.