A Civil Engineer by profession, Saqib Majeed became the first Kashmiri freelance photographer who won the 2016 Wisden–MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year competition.Saqib’s clicked the award-winning picture at Nishat garden in Srinagar, in October last year. Saqib in conversation with ‘Kashmir Vision’ Irfan Tramboo shares his dreams about making it big.
KV: Tell us about the award you recently won, what is it all about?
Saqib Majeed: The award is named MCC-Wisdon Cricket Photograph of the year. It is a competition held every year under the auspice of International Cricket Council (ICC). What they do is, they select a best cricket shot from all around the world. Usually international photographers participate in it, and till date whosoever has won this award are world renowned photographers. With the blessings of Almighty, I am the first Kashmiri, and second in Asia who has won this prestigious award.
KV: Tell us something about this photograph that won you the award? Where did you capture this shot, and what makes the photograph different?
Saqib Majeed: I captured this photograph at Nishat, where a group of youngsters were playing cricket. It was autumn, and given the pristine beauty of Nishat garden, it was reflected in my click. I was randomly clicking shots, when I spotted that group of youngsters. There, I thought to do something different, and that difference was in the angle of the shot. I tried to find some higher place where from I could get a better frame. Eventually, I did find a place and clicked this shot. I have seen many cricketing photographs captured in Kashmir, and what made my shot a different one, was its frame and the added beauty of the surroundings around. This is what I think made my photograph different.
KV: How did you come to know about this photo competition?
Saqib Majeed: I actually sent this photograph to a photo agency based in London, where from The Guardian picked up my photograph and published it. Then what happened was a foreigner contacted me and told me about this photo competition, earlier, I was reluctant, but then I submitted my work to them. I was supposed to submit three photographs, but I submitted one, because I thought it was different and was all I had got.
KV: You are not a photographer by profession, we heard that you are actually a civil engineer, tell us something about this engineering and photography connection?
Saqib Majeed: Yes, I am an engineer, but at the same time I would like to call myself a passionate photographer. From last eight years I have been working actively in the field as a freelancer. Apart from that I run an engineering consultancy firm, where I, and my partner work on civil engineering projects like architectural designs and engineering surveys.
My friends usually say that after watching 3 Idiots movie, I became a photographer, but it is not true, I have been always passionate about photography, and used to click photographs with my mobile phone. The passion was already there, however, I continued with engineering and didn’t let this passion of photography die an unknown death. I always had this dream to represent Kashmir, somehow all around the world and then, when I saw that photography is my thing, I thought why not to work hard in this direction and pursue my dream.
KV: Has your family been supportive in this endeavour?
Saqib Majeed: My family has always been supportive in this regard, but my father didn’t allow me to pursue photography as my career. He told me that you adopt photography as a hobby, but engineering should be your profession. He never wanted me to become a photographer.
KV: How did you start to work as you had no contacts and didn’t know how to approach your assignments? How actually did you proceed in the beginning?
Saqib Majeed: I went on, and started clicking. I did not stop clicking. I use to send my photographs to different agencies and newspapers and for almost one and a half year my work couldn’t find any space anywhere. Then in year 2011 my first photograph was published in an online web portal, and that was something remarkable for me. Until 2013, I kept on working like that, my photos used to find place in various local web portals and it was going well. Then in late 2013, I sent some of my photographs to a New York based publication, The Global Magazine, and luckily they published my work. That was the first international publication I had. After that, in 2015, I participated in a photo exhibition held in California. There my photographs were put on display at Art Deluse Gallery—that too was encouraging for me—thus, pushed me more towards my goal.
KV: How has been social media helpful to you?
Saqib Majeed: It was been very helpful to me, but at the same time I would say that like many others I never worked to post my work on social networking sites. I always worked for myself. What happens is that social media, while encouraging you, discourages you as well. There you will find people criticizing your work, and there are those as well who encourage you. It has been helpful that I was able to post my work and get in contact with various persons who proved to be helpful. What I did was that I took all the criticism in a positive sense and always tried to do better.
KV: These days we find youngsters more inclined toward photography, what would be your message to those enthusiasts?
Saqib Majeed: Though, I am not an expert, but I will tell with the help of whatever experience I had: It is good to be passionate, but there is dire need of persistence. Steadfastness and determination is what I see, is missing. The freshers get disheartened by all the criticism they receive, or may receive. What I would like to tell them is that, if you are passionate about photography, never stop clicking. Work hard, and have courage to do pursue your passion. Trust your hard work, have faith in it and see how opportunities will come up out of nowhere. And one last thing is that be open to change, especially the technological ones.