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Picture Perfect – An Interview with Rabia Ayub Bhatti

A special thanks to Khadija Raheem for making this interview possible.

All images used with permission of the photographer. Don’t forget to like Rabia’s Facebook Fanpage.

You are a pretty young girl, how did you end up in Photography, or was there another reason for diversity?
I had never thought of myself as a photographer until a few years ago, when one of my teachers pointed out that I had a good eye for things. I had a compact digital camera and I started taking a photography class for fun. I only continued after my tutor encouraged me to keep on with my photography as he believed that I had potential.

Majors in Painting and Freelance Photography, how did this happen?
Photography was always something I did for fun and learnt from experience, while painting was something that I learnt through an academic course. I’m not going to lie to you, I used to suck at art, and that’s one of the reasons that pushed me towards it. When I’m bad at something, I feel the urge to improve myself. That’s the gist of how I got into painting. On the other hand, I never intended to carry on photography as a profession, but along the way, it somehow became one, as I realized that I don’t have to limit myself to one field. I wanted to go into Graphic Designing also, but I decided I should stick to two things for a while. Haha.

Did you always know what you had to do in your life?
No, I actually never knew what I wanted to do. At one point, I had one foot in Accounting and the other in Fine Arts, and not lying to you again, I thought to myself what I am worse at. Turned out, Fine Arts was the answer and the decision for my future. Like I said, the worse I am at something, the more I want to do it.

How did people around you react to the whole a-girl-getting-into-Photography thing?
Haha, my father still thinks I should quit as he thinks that photography is not a real career, but that’s what almost all fathers think. It’s a little difficult sometimes when working with male photographers at public events as their reaction to a female photographer is not too comforting, but mostly it has been a great experience. What I’ve learnt and experienced so far is that people tend to be more comfortable and open with females which is an advantage for me. There are a lot of emerging female photographers in Pakistan now and they’re doing pretty good for themselves.

With a lot of young talent coming in the field of Photography, especially girls, do you feel the pressure of competition?
I do actually, but it’s healthy competition. I learn from their photography, and hopefully, they’ll learn from mine.

You’re a fresh graduate in the field of Photography, is being inexperienced an obstacle?
My friends and peers have been pretty helpful in getting my name out there, but yes, I do feel that sometimes it’s an obstacle, but I am gaining experience day by day and slowly and gradually I intend to work at an international level. Big dreams, considering I just started, but what’s the point if you can’t aim high.

Do you have to work for your clientele from scratch? And does this increase the hard-work in earning projects?
Sometimes yes, but so far besides freelancing, I’ve been working since before my graduation for an online art platform known as Factory, so the clientele has not been much of an issue.

Quite a number of fans on Facebook and so many orders already, how does it feel to see people acknowledge your work?
Of course it feels amazing when people tell you that your work is great, and that encourages me to experiment more to bring out something arty and interesting for my fans.

Do you plan to launch your official brand?
Yes, that is a plan in process but nothing can be said for sure at this point.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself exhibiting my paintings and photographs in various countries.

Nowadays, anybody with a DSLR considers himself/herself a photographer if he/she has a Facebook page. Do you agree?
I totally agree. 16-year-old girls have DSLRs which they don’t know how to use and respect. I think if someone is lucky enough to afford a DSLR, they should have the decency to respect it, and learn to take good photographs. There are so many outstanding photographers I know who can’t afford DSLRs but have been practicing their photography with borrowed cameras. They are the real photographers, people who are passionate about the field, not teenagers, who think owning a DSLR and taking a picture with a blurry background as they may say, make them photographers. A photographer is an artist, not someone with a DSLR.

How important are the skills of a cameraman in a successful shoot?
As important as the hands of a sculptor. As important as the sur and taal in a singer’s voice.

One person you would like to work with?
Iain Crawford.

What has been the highest high and the lowest low for you?
I have yet to experience both.

The best advice you ever took?
Do what you want, because you’re the only person responsible for your art.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
My laziness. Haha.

Have you ever…
Gone to a wedding uninvited?

Haha yes, tons of times.

Did an impromptu dance in front of an audience?
Haha, hell yes! Whenever I get the chance. :)

Cried at a movie?
Almost in every movie I’ve watched since I was 10, I think. :p

What is the best compliment you have received?
“Teach me how you took that picture.”

Tell us about your upcoming projects and exhibitions?
I had a recent exhibition at Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore. And I plan to do at least two solo shows in Islamabad before 2013, and a couple of group exhibitions outside Islamabad.

Have you been approached by an advertising agency to work as a professional Photographer?
Not advertising agencies per say, but newspapers, yes, although I prefer to work on my own.

Would you like to advice anything to the young girls who want to take Photography as a profession?
Yes, definitely. For all those young achievers who want to take up Photography in the future, respect your equipment, learn from every tiny detail of every tiny insect you see every day, and keep an open eye and mind for the play of light surrounding you.

One final word for our readers?
Respect!

Rabia remarked her experience with YC in the following words,

“Youth correspondent is a great platform for the new generation to voice their opinions and learn about whats happening around them. I wish them luck.” 

We wish the same to Rabia :).