Composition, Connection, People and Art – Zeashan Ashraf

nika / philippines

Photos and words by Zeashan Ashraf (ig: @zeashanashraf)

You can also buy his art here : gulfphotoplus.com/editions/200/Zeashan-Ashraf

Hi. My name is Zeashan and I have been using the lockdown period to explore this exciting new format of virtual photography.

This has been an unsettling time for many of us – my family, friends, and self included. For me, it’s just increased my feelings of anxiety about even the littlest things. Making photos has usually been my go-to means to escape. I’ll take my film camera around to places and photograph people I find – both friends and strangers. Obviously, being unable to do that right now hasn’t been helping.

This medium has become such a fun way to creatively collaborate with people from a distance. You could call it a collaborative problem-solving exercise in composition, in trying to work with the person on the other side to visualize what’s in your head and asking them to position their device creatively. In most cases, no one has a phone tripod lying around so you’re both brainstorming on what else can be done to get photos at eye-level. I’ve photographed so many people through zoom that I’ve gotten a good hang of it and can even feel my directing skills getting better in general. This outlet has become such a beautiful coping mechanism for me really – to just connect with people, friends and strangers, over photography and forget about the madness of the real world. It’s been quite rewarding for me.

A plus side to this lockdown has been being able to virtually visit friends around the world. I live in the UAE where video calling apps are blocked, but recently the telecom regulators lifted the block on Zoom so that schooling and business could still function from people’s homes. This meant that I could finally see my friends’ faces from all over, a joy I used to take for granted when I used to live in India. Since we’re not really sure how long this lasts before we go back to no video calling again, I’ve been making the most out of the moment with virtually photographing people. 

I am constantly inspired by the amazing work that people have been creating during this time. Through Instagram, I’ve also been able to connect with some of these marvellous artists and even collaborate with a few of them. I’d like to think I’m conservative about approaching strangers, but when someone’s art moves me so much – it makes me want to go say hello 🙂

kyzha / dubai

harith / london

shyamli / karnataka

himani / delhi

jad / amman

thatmalluchick (nagma) /chennai

gold baby (sian fawcett) / uk

ramya pothuri / hyderabad

abilasha sinha / los angeles

sanjeeta and nicaia / delhi

patch ortega / philippines

fahd rayees / groningen

chiara, aakriti, tiph / berlin

fatima mehreen / calicut

shébani / dubai

abilasha sinha / los angeles

rabia naseeb / lahore

ammar khalid / sharjah

sanjeeta bhattacharya / delhi

Some of incredible stuff out there are that’s inspired me recently:

Charli XCX’s new album which she made in quarantine with her fans over zoom, Alessio Albi’s breathtaking fashion shoots over facetime, Eman Suleman’s self portrait series during lockdown, and The Girls Of Isolation instagram page,

#photography #virtualphotoshoot

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