My subjects, themes and stories revolve around daily life events and general news.
When I was 10, I used to steal the camera from my mother on every family trip. No matter the destination, I always took pictures of the place and the people around us. I had no idea what photography was and didn’t know anything about the camera, all I knew was how excited I was to shoot and while waiting for the photos to be developed, so I could see them.
I learned through personal photography experiments on the streets of Homs. Then I did some projects with photographer friends. There is no place to study and obtain an academic degree in photography in my homeland, Syria, so if you really want to learn, you have to work hard and get all the help you can from people with more experience.
My first assignment was to photograph a replica of an ancient part of the Syrian city of Palmyra, reconstructed by archaeologist Frances Pinnock. I was terrified because for the first time my pictures would be seen all over the world. I also felt intimidated by all the other journalists at the museum, especially as I was the only female among them, but I guess it was as awkward for them as it was for me.
I am not very proud about the outcome of that assignment but I learned a very important lesson that day: that every photographer has their own vision. Even if we are in the same place with the same camera looking at the same object, we can make different pictures to serve different needs. Now, no matter how many photographers are around me, I concentrate on shooting what my eye sees.
In 2018, I worked on a project called “Full of Life”. For a month, I documented a family that had lost its father, and a woman waiting with her young children for her husband to return. Five photographs were exhibited in Portugal. This was the starting point of my passion to tell real-life personal stories. I love telling stories about people striving to better their lives, despite all the difficulties. I like to highlight people who don’t realise themselves how much of a success story and how inspiring they are.
Photojournalism is important because it’s a combination between abstract and realistic documentary. For example, I’ve seen old newspaper pictures of Damascus in the 1970s. If I hadn’t seen those pictures, it would have been impossible to believe this was the same city where I live now, even if I read a million books about it. Thus, photojournalism is one of the most significant means to verify the past and document the present.
To a photojournalist starting out now, I would say, now that you are at this place, tell its story and reflect its reality. Make me feel what your heart and mind are saying through your eyes, your perspective.