Tariq AlHajri

  • WordsRuth O'Malley
  • PhotographyTariq Al Hajri

Tariq describes himself as being at an age where he knows nothing and everything at the same time and uses photography as a means to express his own take on the world and its diversity. In conversation with Tariq Alhajri, a young Omani photographer who describes his work as being inspired by Omani suburbia, culture and memories. Tariq’s fascination with natural light and his ability to remember every intricate detail from his childhood village is most admirable and alluring and is what inspired him to shoot the series “The Rejuvenation of Past”.

RO: What inspired you to shoot the Rejuvenation of Past?

TA: To be honest, there was this postcard of an Omani lady crossing her legs, shot by A.R Fernandez back in 1901. There was barely any information about this photographer but I loved that picture because it fit my photography standards and motivated me to shoot this concept I had in mind since high school. I wanted to bring back some characters from my past, and relive the moment of how they would have lived their youth in these modern days, and still do the same traditional tasks.

RO: How much do you think have your experiences and memories inspired your photography?

TA: A lot! Most of my concepts are based on my memories and experiences. I’m not good with words and talking, so I use photography to interpret my own view of my experiences and my memories in an artistic way.

RO: A lot of your work seems to be based on the Omani youth, is it because you can connect on a personal level?

TA: Of course, I actually started this kind of photography because of the Omani youth, they motivate me to do something out of the ordinary. I was surprised to find many interesting young Omanis when I came back in the summer of 2015 from the United States. I was really anxious about coming back thinking that I wouldn’t find people to accept my kind of photography, but to my surprise there were many interesting young people, with different backgrounds and mentality which inspired my photography even more.

RO: You use natural light for many shoots, does that attachment to nature come from growing up in a village?

TA: Yes! It’s like you’re reading my mind. I love the sun, I love natural light, the heat. My memories come from sunrise to sunset; I forget everything that comes after.

RO: What inspired you to take up photography at such a young age?

TA: My father was my inspiration; His photographs were not considered to be professional by some people, but they seemed professional to me because I grew up loving his photography standards. My father gave up photography after he got busy with work and family, so I started using his digital compact camera and started creating my own experiences with the art and learnt different types of photography.

RO: Would you say that every amazing photoshoots direction comes from a strong connection to the topic in perspective?

TA: Yes! Not necessarily though, but that’s what I learned and observed from other photographers and their work. There is always a story behind the shoot that connects to either the subject in question or the photographer.

RO: How would you describe “Rejuvenations Past” and its cultural take?

TA: I was actually surprised how the Omani audience received “Rejuvenation of Past” as an artwork. Even though I didn’t mention the story in depth or the concept behind the shoot. I was expecting a lot of unacceptance, because locals here in Oman don’t usually accept something out of the ordinary, like the pop colors and some modern touches I added to these pictures. But I was surprised and grateful for what followed.

RO: Your entire portfolio brings a close to home feeling with Oman at the center of it all. How did that come about?

TA: I absolutely love my country just like everyone else. Living outside the country for a while, and not being here in Oman made me realise how much I love the culture I come from and how fascinating it is. I’m trying my best to create Omani content to introduce the general Omani culture to the world with its different cultural branches. Like I said, taking pictures related to me makes me relive the visuals I have in mind from my childhood in Oman.

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