The state of Qatar may not be the best place to practice someone's street photography skills due to a number of regulations and restrictions blanketing the tiny peninsula -- as it is mainly conservative -- but for someone who walks from home to office (and vice versa) every day for 5 kilometers, I must say that there's still a lot to see and photograph on this part of the globe if you will just simply open your eyes and really immerse yourself out there.
Street photography -- also sometimes referred to as candid photography -- is defined as a genre of photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Street photographers are often also writers or artists as they come up with finished products which tells a story -- usually sparking a heated debate among its audience.
From the definition itself -- chance encounters and random incidents -- a photograph cannot be put under the 'street' section if it doesn't capture a phenomenon called 'decisive moment.' Techniques such as framing and timing are being used in order to achieve this term coined by the father of street photography Henri Cartier Bresson.
In Qatar, the population of street photographers is obviously scarce, but with the help of Friday morning photo walks being arranged and conducted by camera groups like Fujifilm Qatar, there seems to be a lot of hobbyists nowadays.
Below are five reasons why taking the streets of Qatar for photography reasons is actually a great idea!
Taking a cool picture while exposed in the middle of a street while your sweat is dripping on the sizzling hot ground is a ton painless unlike when it's raining or snowing -- a case that rarely or never happens in Qatar. Not only can you move from one stoplight to another fast-paced and without any natural hindrances, your lens is also not prone to annoying moist that can totally ruin a great shot once you forget to wipe it off. And one thing more: you can even charge your camera using solar energy should its battery die. I tried it once and trust me, it moved me mountains!
Qatar was recently named the 32nd happiest country in the world out of 195 this year and one of the reasons we've listed in a recently-published article is that because it's a safe haven for expatriates. The truth is, when you walk on the highways late at night, there really is nothing to be worried about even if you have an expensive DSLR dangling from your neck -- it's that safe! Besides, thugs won't dare as majority of Doha's roads and streets are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance cameras to monitor every single happening 24/7. So as long as you're seeing something click-worthy, then there really is no reason to hide, hurry, or compromise.
This is a universal reason. Regardless of what type of hobbyist you are, natural light is 100% more preferred than its artificial counterpart. This fact urges photographers off all levels to really shoot outdoors in order to achieve the perfect lighting suited for their subjects. But the last few minutes before sunrise and sunset are the most crucial -- as they're the secret to a perfectly-lit photograph in general. Famous Instagrammers even reveal that they shoot really early in the morning to come up with the best content because as many of them would say: the 'magic hour' won't be called that way for no reason at all.
More than dogs, Qatar is rich with furry and friendly stray cats lingering in almost every corner. And most of them are very much cooperative with whatever vision that you have. If you want them to freeze, then they won't think twice. Another plus is the truth that you can easily put them as subject against any interesting backdrop -- may it be the Doha skyline, one of the museums, or in this case, the bakalas. These lovely creatures won't surely charge you for a talent fee, but a complimentary head massage or a tiny piece of bread would be much appreciated.
As Qatar is constantly striving to become the GCC region's main tourism hub, countless festivals are being held in some of the country's most iconic and spacious public areas to cater to the demands of its ever-growing and diverse expatriates population. Events like this are golden opportunities for street photographers alike as annual festivals happening in Qatar usually bring herds of countless people all together in one place. And for a street photographer, whatever your style is, you'll surely stumble upon something great to add to your archive of 'decisive shots' especially when humans are the ones in focus.
If you like this article and you think that there's a potential street photographer inside of you waiting to get unleashed, then you might want to check out this workshop by established and award-winning Polish street photographer Arek Rataj entitled Unstaged: A Street Photography Workshop.
Happening in the Doha Fire Station for two days from April 20, 2018 (Friday) to April 21 (Saturday), the workshop -- which will be held entirely in English -- will include an introduction to street photography sub-genres, classroom sessions (theory), outdoor sessions (practice), and a two-week-long mentorship program -- during which the workshop attendees can strengthen their visual awareness and submit portfolios for review.
Arek cited the one-of-a-kind cityscape that Qatar has and how it blends with pedestrians, vividly poignant and colorful cultural events, and historical venues like Katara and Souq Waqif.
"When you attend my workshop, I will not be teaching the basics in photography as I will be expecting the participants to know these things. I won't waste their time by telling them about ISO and stuff -- these can be self-studied. I will review their works, we will dig deep into street photography's several unexplored sub-genres, and I will also immerse them in the real world where they will shoot in actual," he explained.
Arek has traveled to Central America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia in search for some of his best street clicks. He named China as his favorite country to conduct unstaged photography as it's "extremely easy to shoot" on its streets according to him. The 34-year-old's photographs were exhibited in London, Miami, San Francisco, etc.
Slots are limited and there's an early bird promo until April 13, 2018, so hurry! Registration fee is for only QR 500 and you can secure your slot by checking out Arek's contact details below!
Have you tried doing photography in the streets of Qatar? How was it for you? If you haven't tried, did our list help you build up the courage to give it a try someday? Drop us a line in the comments below and don't forget to like and share this article -- it keeps us going!
Cover image courtesy of Arek Retaj's Instagram
Images by Sonkie Bagongfirs
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