As you all remember, a month ago we run the yearly edition of our popular Travel Photography Competition in which you had a chance to win Zenfolio‘s professional photography portfolio worth 100€ and the interview with Hitch-Hikers’ Handbook.
The photo which got the biggest amount of votes came all the way from Egypt and was taken by a very talented young photographer Mohamed El Khatib. Who is Mohamed, how did his passion for photography start and what does it take to become a competition-winning photographer? Read on…
1. Mohamed, first tell our readers something about yourself, please.
My name is Mohamed El Khatib , 29 years old, and I am a photographer based in Egypt with great passion for photography, travelling and the arts, and my dream is to one day have the chance to travel the world and take as many photos as I can.
2. Tell us something about the winning picture. It was taken during the Festival of Colours in Giza, Egypt, right? What kind of festival is it?
The festival is called (Holi) which is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus as a festival of colours. In 2011 the festival came to Egypt to be celebrated not as a religious festival but as a carnival were all ages & religions could enjoy spraying colours and having a fun day. I remember at the end of that day me and my camera were covered with so many different colours that it took me 3 days to clean the camera!
3. How did you take this picture? There must have been hundreds of people and lots of paint everywhere.
It was a very special moment actually, the organizers of the event decided that there will be a moment were every attendee will splash the colours they have at the same time, so at that special moment there were about 600 – 800 people throwing colours in to the air and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to take this photo which I consider one of the best shots I have ever taken.
4. When did you first become interested in photography?
As long as I can remember I have always loved photography, I started in 2007 with a small point & shot camera which I learned the basics of shooting on, up until 2011 when I decided that it was time to go to the next level, so I got my first DSLR camera and started shooting on a more professional level, and I was lucky enough to start on the same exact day I took the winning photo of the colours festival :)
5. What’s the main focus of your photos, what do you like photographing the most?
I feel most at home when shooting nature & animal shots, although I have good shots taken in weddings and events, nature shots have always been my aim in photography.
6. Have you ever missed a really great shot because you didn’t have you camera with you?
So many times actually! there are so many shoots missed because either I didn’t have my camera or I wasn’t allowed to carry one! I remember this one time my camera batteries died while I was shooting in a forest in Kuala Lumpur-Malaysia so I had to continue shooting with my phone camera ! But I learned a great lesson that day, which is to always carry spare batteries and memory cards as you will never know when a good shot will come.
7. Do you find any photographers / photos inspiring?
A well shot photo is always an inspiration for me, yet I really enjoy the work of – Jay Maisel – who is a famous modern photographer. His photos are simple, and he doesn’t use complex lighting or fancy cameras. He often only takes one lens on photo outings, and he enjoys taking photos of shapes and lights that he finds interesting, which is very close to my style of shooting.
8. What do you most love about being a photographer?
In life, we seek our own way; we are all in pursuit of happiness. We want to find something that’s going to make us different from the others, make our life special. We want to find a sense of life and we are testing different things just to find something that will be the most important for us. For me I found my passion in photography, I’ve realized that photography can be more than just a passion and a dream; it can become my profession with skills for life.
9. Is there anything you don’t like as a photographer?
Although I love everything about being a photographer, yet the only thing I hate is not being able to be in the picture I take :)
10. Do you travel?
What’s your favourite place in the world? Yes, indeed I travelled several times during the past couple of years, including trips to Asia & Europe, and in every place I have travelled I enjoyed the place, and although I haven’t visited them yet but my favourite place has to be the cities of Madrid-Spain & Paris-France where I have heard about and seen so many great pictures taken there, that I hope I will be able to visit them in the near future.
11. What advice would you give to those who want to start taking better pictures? What’s the key of becoming a world-renown, competition-winning photographer like yourself?
Take shots because you love doing it, give it all you got, shoot things you really care about, things that really interest you, respect and work within photography’s limitations, and you will go much further. And always remember what David Alan Harvey once said “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like”
Thank you for the interview and all the beautiful pictures you sent us!
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