Biography

Since 1988, Farah Mahbub has been exhibiting as a photographer in Pakistan and abroad. Equally adept in analogue printing as she is in the digital darkroom, her work traverses from documentary to digital photo-montage techniques, incorporating layers of light, shade, textures, architecture, natural objects, animals, landscapes and calligraphic text. Her visual-scapes, often unpopulated, are as dense as the multiple meanings they extend to, inspired by philosophical discourse on Sufism; insights garnered from traveling and reflections on nature in the respite of her studio. Over the years, her art has assembled equal praise and critique, as the local art industry has moved towards accepting photography as a fine art medium while abandoning notions of analogue purism.

For Farah Mahbub, photography allows her to reconcile the rift between mindfulness and expression. Only when ideas and intuitions connect with imagery, can thought and execution become one. From this unity of value, a visual language emerges that speaks from imagination and familiarity; it speaks back to the audience, to the news, to foresight, to philosophy, to awe. As a highly personal form of communication, the image offers an open point of engagement: both the maker and the consumer seek out a confirmation of themselves through the layers of meaning that allow the image to transcend its two-dimensional limitations. Thus, the silence of the photograph cries out; but you are quiet, and so am I.

Background:

A brief association with an advertising agency photographer, right out of college, led me to photography which had me captivated, and there has been no looking back since. Working at the agency for a year, I collected enough money to buy my first camera and photo equipment in 1988. Taking up various freelance projects over a span of ten years I finally started teaching photography at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi in 1997 where I continue to teach presently. Being largely self-taught I exhausted my resources to educate myself with the science and technique of the camera and the darkroom. The main advantage of being self-taught, I discovered, is that one’s ideas can develop more originally independent of any influence; however, it did take longer because there was no teacher, and institutions offering photography in Pakistan in those days. I eventually started having exhibitions in order to share my work, doing commercial projects for self-support and fine art photography for personal pleasure.

Philosophy:

Photography is a path, a sequence of events to be lived and experienced that helps you discover yourself and the people and places in your near and distant environments. It is not a fixed state of mind or being but an evolving medium, to take the edge off the weight some of us can feel in conveying our feelings, beliefs and desires.  In short, not all of us are verbal enough in putting into words any intense visual rush witnessed.

Technique & Style:

I work with medium format or 35mm cameras, analog or digital. The images are usually printed on photo rag archival paper Canson and Hahnemühle. For the fine art work images produced are shot in raw and processed using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop software. Depending on the nature of the photographic image,  they go through standard or intense post processing work. Photographic style includes Architecture, Landscapes, Still Life and Environmental Portraits.