Travel through the lens of Zahra Amiruddin
by Rujuta Vaidya
When the average individual takes a holiday, they spend a lot of time behind the lens trying to soak in every tiny minute of outlandish beauty they see. Perhaps it is the joy in discovering the unfamiliar or the need to capture freedom that makes travel and the documentation of it so connected. But what does it mean for a travel photographer, whose work and life revolve around holding in a brief movement and translating it into a thing of beauty for others?
Love Letter spoke to Zahra Amiruddin whose body of work captures that fleeting feeling of experiencing something so unique, you’re hyper aware it may never appear again. As an independent writer, photographer, and professor of photography who has been working in the field for nine years with a specialization in visual practices and contemporary art, Amiruddin expresses through multiple mediums. We spoke to the artist on her creative practice.
What informs the subject in front of the lens for you?
It’s hard to put this into words since my subjects mostly arise from pure intuition. It’s a restless, almost urgent feeling that rises from the pit of my stomach into my hands, and urges me to make the photograph. If I were to really break it down, I’d say I like to capture the unobvious elements of a rather obvious scene.
How do you select a final shot?
There is a clear gap between the photographer’s eye and the reality in front of them. For me, the final shot is one that closes this gap the most.
When you travel, how do you pick a destination?
Mostly by time, budget, weather, and sheer curiosity of topography.
What does being a photographer mean to you?
I can’t separate my ways of seeing from my ways of perceiving. I am grateful every day to be able to experience the world in the way that I do. I read, travel, dream, converse, and contemplate with the same eye.
Do you feel compelled to document your surroundings on holiday?
Not anymore. I have begun photographing a lot less while on holiday. I’m finally alright to let a moment remain as a moment in my head, and only photograph when the urgency is too much to shake off. I enjoy this feeling of editing while on the move, it takes the pressure off constantly capturing.
As a writer and a photographer, how does creativity flow from one medium to another for you?
It’s intertwined. I see in words, and write in photographs.
Zahra Amiruddin has been featured in national and international publications, her main areas of interest include ethnographic studies, astronomy, personal narratives, and family histories. She has shown her work in solo as well as group exhibitions across Greece, South Korea, Indonesia, and India and is currently developing a collaborative project with Eight Thirty, a women’s photography collective. Last year, her work was published as the supporting text in a photobook about North Korea titled 'Between Doors.'