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Shooting for a living

Pakistan is seeing and will see more women photographers in the immediate future



Mubushra Sami: `In our society, at wedding parties and get-togethers, women feel comfortable being photographed by women.' — Photo: Murali Kumar K.

IT IS exciting to talk to Mubushra Sami, psychologist, painter, photographer, and wife of Sami Ur Rahman, President, Photographic Art Society of Pakistan. She is superbly alive to churnings in Pakistan's popular culture and civil society. Absolutely clear in perspective, articulate and deeply sensitive. She was here as part of the 15-member delegation from Pakistan participating in the four-day Art for Peace exhibition showcasing award-winning photographs by seven eminent Pakistan photographers.

Ms. Mubushra perceives a positive outlook for women in the field of photography in Pakistan in the immediate future. She recognises, however, that as of today "there are fewer women in photography than men" in Pakistan, especially at the professional level and that that the few professional photographers have "tended to look at technicalities". Though important, this, in her view, is not creating enough interest in photography as a hobby. Of course, Pakistan hosts a plethora of international exhibitions. But the effort, in her view, is largely individual. On the international scene, Pakistani photographers are doing very well. "But those renowned are mostly men. There are of course women photographers, but they are a few."

But the younger generation is turning the tide. The National Council of Arts and the Al-Hamra, the Arts Council that conduct classes in photography, are increasingly attended by young women and men looking to make a career in photography. "In general, in our Islamic society, at wedding parties and get-togethers, women feel comfortable being photographed by women. This has brought about a new class of women photographers and a field of its own. These women were housewives before. They have learnt that they have a profession, that they can adapt."

Ms. Mubushra also points out that camera work these days is automatic so that it is not difficult to learn photography and turn professional. "There need not have to be longish classes. The college generation will take up photography as a profession and given that technology is not hard to learn, both men and women will have equal opportunity." Middle-class Pakistan sees women far ahead of men in professions like law, medicine, and service sector. "And certainly more dedicated."

PRASHANTH G.N.

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