One of our favourite lifestyle photographers, Areesh Zubair, speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about his popular new â€œDuur se Portraitâ€ series launched to document life in the Covid-19 lockdown and how he kept his creativity alive during this time
What inspired the â€œDuur Se Portraitâ€ series?
I wanted to document people during the lockdown; it all started when a prominent photo-journalist proclaimed on his Insta live that itâ€™s very important for photographers to document this time, as this period will be remembered in the annals ofÂ history. I realised that we as photographers have a duty upon ourselves to archive it. My initial plan was to go out on the streets and photograph the general day-to-day life during the lockdown, however, I came across quite a few talented people that were already doing a great job of it. Hence, I thought Iâ€™d do something a bit more unique, so I came up with the idea of photographing people on their balconies. Initially I was only going to photograph my friends and family but now with time itâ€™s morphed into something much bigger than I couldâ€™ve ever imagined.
After capturing people dressed up on their balconies, have you considered doing another series focusing on their more natural/realistic quarantine moods?
The idea behind the project was never to photograph folks who were all dressed up, I just wanted to photograph people in whatever way they were most comfortable.Â Surprisingly, the series kind of gave people a reason to get up and ready for a change, especially during the early days when the lockdown was quite strict. I seldom give people a brief or reference pointsâ€”I just simply ask them to come outside on their respective balconies in whichever way theyâ€™re most comfortable and from there onwards I photograph them.
In order to continue the series, o ne thing Iâ€™m certain of is that Iâ€™m looking to photograph people from more diverse backgrounds, certainly outside my friends, family and industry circles.
How do you see the creative industry altering during Covid-19?
Covid-19 isnâ€™t going anywhere anytime soonâ€”thatâ€™s a given. Our industry, like all others, needs to adapt to the current situation by developing SOPs and working with them. This is the best time to improvise and be as creative as possible.Â We have access to some of the best technology at our fingertips; Iâ€™ve seen some brilliant shoots done via Facetime. Itâ€™s time to use our cell phone cameras more appropriately. I believe we need to make the most out of what we already have, as art created under limited circumstances is always special.
Has the current global uncertainty had an impact on your aesthetic and vision as a photographer?
Obviously! Like any other person it has had a serious impact on my work. Before this series, I didnâ€™t really have much experience working with zoom lenses. Truth be told I donâ€™t even have my own zoom lenses; it wasnâ€™t exactly my style. But the lockdown compelled me to use them. For the project I borrowed the zoom lenses from my friends and colleagues. Iâ€™ll definitely be investing in my very own pair soon.
For most people, having a creative outlet is more important than ever now. We know youâ€™ve conducted online classes in the past, so can we expect more in the future to help anyone seeking guidance free of cost?
Definitely! Having a creative outlet or any outlet for that matter is very important during these days. I did one photography workshop in the early days of the lockdownâ€”it was free of cost. Iâ€™m always open to the idea of sharing and guiding as much as I can and now that youâ€™ve asked I think itâ€™s time for another workshop.
Other than that, Iâ€™m always available to offer my guidance or answer any photography related questions; my DMs are always open.
Have you discovered any other secret talents of yourself in quarantine?
That I am really bad at Ludo Star!
Whatâ€™s something youâ€™ve learnt from this crisis that you hope to keep with you long after itâ€™s over?
That nothing can stop you from doing something that you really want. You just need to make sure that youâ€™re doing it the correct way. The excuses we make every day are honestly speaking just lame. I just had an idea to start withâ€”I didnâ€™t even have the right equipment to get it off the ground. But look where itâ€™s gotten me. I canâ€™t complain.
We need to work together more, collaborate, help one another and find positivity in every possible situation.
Photography: Nusair Rahman
Models: Arsalan Ihsan & Abeer Asad Khan
Hair & Makeup: Toni & Guy North
Styling: Aarinda Noor
Concept: Fahad Saif