I would like to showcase one of our photography student’s photographic work this week. It will be a short article as Sabah Elias is most painfully shy and shrinks back from conversation. He is 24 years old, single, and lives in a tent with his mother and 13 siblings. Somehow the painfully shy man and the visionary who sees way beyond the horizon don't mix and match yet when entering into Sabah’s world I guess they perfectly do. His shyness keeps him silent. We talk but it is painful for him so much so that one does not wish to prolong his agony. But on the other hand, it would be oh so wonderful if he could understand that his talent is being appreciated and could offer more than a fleeting grunt whilst looking at our office floor. He completed primary school, and since then he has labored in the local fields from sunrise to sunset most days of the week, year in, year out, planting and picking whatever vegetables are in season. He is a friend of silence. He notices the minutiae of life. Ants, insects, worms, leaves. And it is there in the trenches of either muddy or dry, fields, depending upon the season, that his life as photographer Sabah Oscar was born taking on his grandfather’s name, whom he evidently adored, as his professional name.
“I love sculpture. It is a silent but strong form of expression that can have an imprint upon an entire village for generations. This is a sculpture in the center of Shariya village, created by an artist called Maher Khero, depicting his grandfather and himself. I love this as it reminds me of the strong bond that I had with my grandfather. I had a ring with me one time when I walked past the statue. I used Piscart and Lightroom to edit.”
“The ant helped me to take this photo. I helped him to get food. I saw him looking for food, there was none. I watched him as I was working in the field. We were both tired. I took a break to cook chai, which was when I had the idea to give him some sugar, thinking that maybe it would boost his energy levels. In those moments we were equal, we were in the same place. I gave him sugar. He gave me a beautiful photo. Thank you, Ant.
Never Lose Hope
Sometimes I get the chance to go to the Mosul Lake near Khanke with my friends. The water gives me a sense of vastness, a sense of freedom. Even under the most difficult of circumstances one can enter into freedom. My photography helps me to rise above the harshness of our ongoing situation and find my own place of freedom and hope. I took this photo without much thought or preparation. It is all natural without any editing and yes for a few seconds he was underwater. For those minutes we both shared freedom and hope.
Springs of Hope took part in a camp clean up. We were invited to participate which for me was an honor as I believe in taking the best care of the space in which I dwell, even if it is a tent in a camp. My friends and I were out picking up the trash, the stuff that people just throw away without a second thought. I was examining much of the trash as I threw it into black garbage bags, and I saw how beautiful it could be. I saw this can of a fizzy drink and it turned itself into a beautiful composition. My message is to love and care for our environment. That does not depend upon living in a tent or a palace. We should respect and take care of our surroundings.
I took these one day when walking through the camp. Everywhere was either dirty with trash or the soil itself lacked life. Then I came across these stunningly colorful leaves. Beauty remains. One just needs the eyes and the determination to choose to find it.
I was with my friends at Lalish temple and suddenly thought how Lalish is growing, both with regards to the numbers who visit, and with the new building work that is taking place. For this photo I used two cameras on two cell phones, and a lot of apps to edit. I am pleased with the result.
I was working in the fields and needed to fix our electric cable. I saw the sun setting. This idea of the connection between the natural and artificial came into my mind.
Last Newroz I was in the camp watching the kids have fun trying to light fireworks or bonfires. The idea of creating fire was in my head. I called a friend, returned home, took a cigarette lighter, matches and a scouring pad…this is the result. An alternative fire.
Sabah Oscar is a shy young man who studies photography with us under the gently watchful eye of his teacher, Hevidar also a shy young man. His goal is to understand the camera, to combine technology with his obvious creativity and to create a new culture in Kurdish photography. One where he can use his talent and support himself, leaving the potato, tomato and watermelon fields behind him.
Such are our students. Displaced, yes. With vision, determination and hope. Oh Yes. They just need someone to believe in them. When I tried to labor through a conversation with Salah, he ended by saying that it was hard to talk about his work as no one had paid attention to it or enquired about it.
You have been seen Mr. Salah. And that is step one.