Capturing Oman’s natural beauty is the pride and passion of self-taught photographer – Qasim al Farsi – as Swati Basu Das discovers, in this week’s Coffee With Y.
Oman’s wondrous landscape throws up an array of abundant treasures for any talented lensman (or woman) to take advantage of.
The Sultanate’s sky can glint with all the tremulous tints of a rainbow’s colours while at night observers can gaze at a crystal-like constellation to tantalise any telescope.
It makes us all want to go and splash out on all the requisite photographic equipment.
But it’s the talent we need; not just the tools. And one photographer who has it in spades is Qasim al Farsi.
Since taking up the art 10 years ago, Qasim has built up a prestigious portfolio as well as a clutch of estimable awards and accolades.
These include the 25th Annual Photography Exhibition, Renaissance Day photography Competition Oman; Souq Okaz Photography Awards KSA; and the Hipa Instagram Photography Awards UAE.
Modestly, he says the awards came as a surprise to him, as he simply set out to master the art of photography, with a preference for capturing landscapes.
“I have no travel plans for photography. I am on the move instantly,” he says.
“I venture out at dawn and sometimes even late at night to remote locales to acquire some winning shots.”
His preference for landscape photography stems simply from witnessing Oman’s scenic beauty.
He says: “Oman has some of the most amazing untouched beaches and high mountains reflecting lights of the sun through every nook and cranny. Capturing them all is bliss.
“My journey started with a love for adventure, travel and camping in different hidden locales of my country.
“I travelled to places that are spectacular and fell in love with them. I shared my travel stories but found that there was an intense demand from people to see what I had witnessed. And that awakened the desire in me to seize the moments of nature through the art of photography.”
And Oman sure looks good through his lens. His artistry captures the subtle nuances of colour of our land as well as its eclecticism.
His portrayal of the ocean waves positively radiates and reproduces every inch of their kinetic and shimmering wonder. The peaks of the Al Hajjar Mountains loom ever-more loftily when taken by him, as clouds shroud the stolid spreads of trees. The yellow terrains of the Empty Quarter sparkle into golden hues of vastness. The green plains of Salalah seem even more verdant. All of our country’s assets glimmer ever-more spectacularly after Qasim has pointed his camera at them.
Qasim is no camera snob, either. Although he uses the best in professional equipment, for him it’s all about the shot.
In fact, he used a mobile phone camera on one of his first ventures, to Barr al Hikman.
“I camped at Bar Al Hikman for three nights and realised the beaches were pristine and the ocean water had all shades of blue. The nights had zero light pollution and were perfect for astrophotography.”
His friends were knocked out by his efforts. Recounting the journey, he says: “Way back in 2000, I took pictures with my mobile and shared with my family and friends and they all appreciated my work and demanded to see more of Oman through my lens.”
Qasim’s love for nature and its intricacy takes him to the hidden places of the country, where very few have trodden, to date.
“Oman has a versatile topography. There is desert, oasis, wadis and much more to explore.
“Through my photography, I try to highlight these natural marvels and show the world Oman’s unspoiled beauty. My photography represents my country.
“Moreover, it is good to invite photographers and adventurers from abroad to tour my homeland to know how beautiful it is.
“I conduct personalised photography tours for any photographer both from Oman and beyond. I even organise workshops on photography techniques, offering free classes to local college and school students who are interested in this field.”
And Qasim will go that extra mile, quite literally, if it means achieving the shot he wants.
On one occasion, he encountered a desert sandstorm when in the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali).
“The storm suddenly emerged and the visibility was fading and the wind was raging so much that couldn’t even open the car door.
“I chased the storm and managed to get incredible pictures of it. I was contented, that’s all I can say.”
Fortune favours the brave, as the saying goes but Qasim is keen to pass on some of the tricks of the trade.
His advice for budding photographers reflects his enthusiasm for his art. Driven by the passion of photography, his advice is to love the art and stay focused on the frame.
“I believe in learning each day. It is important to learn from mistakes. I take advice even from my fans, friends and my students.
“A mobile phone can help you get a great picture depending on the frame you choose and the use of light. My initial photography stints were done by mobile.” ν