Sheraz Mushtaq
Sheraz Mushtaq

He remembers the excitement and thrill of working with 35mm film camera during the early 90s when he got his first photography equipment, a manual SLR with basic set of lenses.

A promising photographer, Sheraz Mushtaq, was born and raised in Shamnagar, Lahore. His first exposure to the visual arts was freehand sketching, which his father would do regularly. Inspired by these drawings, he started scribbling at a tender age. His passion to create visuals transformed from drawing to computer graphics and photography with the passage of time.

“Initially it was not more than a hobby, exposing the portraits, group photos of friends and family and the street scenes. Having hard copy prints of your works in hand used to be a fascinating experience.

“With limited options of exposure at hand and manually focusing on images, one needs a lot of patience and thinking before every click. The process helped me train my eyes to find beauty out of ordinary subjects and a temperament to wait for the right moment to capture,” he relates.

The works of his mentor, senior photographer Nadeem Khawar, encouraged and inspired him to venture into professional photography. He started as a fashion photographer but got fed up with the monotony of fashion world very soon.

“For a newcomer, it was challenging and thrilling to focus on glamorous models on the ramp, but I always felt unsatisfied after exposing that cosmetic and commercial world,” he adds.

“Mundane life with its simplicity and natural expression always attracted me. I would go to slum-dwellers, farmers, labourers and rural festivals to find people and images I can relate to,” he says.

For the last five years, he is a frequenter of Kalash tribes, various festivals in Lahore, and remote districts of Punjab, where traditional farming practices still exist. He came up with stunningly beautiful photographs from Mela Charaghan, shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir , festival of Chanan Pir and Kanwaanwali Sarkar.

Exhibiting his works regularly, he is known for his portraits of nomadic life, Kalash tribe, gypsy children and labourers doing tough jobs. His works were acknowledged with a couple of prestigious awards during the last few years.

“To me, the best reward is the interaction with people. Most of my subjects treat me like someone from their own community. Once I portrayed a worker of corn-roasting kiln.

He asked me for a print so that he can show it to his family, just to make them realise how much hard work he is doing to earn a living,” he shares with the writer.

“Through my works, I want people to realise and respect the dignity of hard-working people, living a tough life which we can’t understand while working in air-conditioned offices,” he says.

Working as a banker, Sheraz loves spending his free hours and weekends in the gypsy slums around the Ravi and keeps on visiting small industrial units to capture his all-time favourite subject, the people doing tough laborious jobs.

His skills with photo editing software helped him develop the raw visuals and create animations out of still images.

He chooses the subjects with a strong visual impact and keeps on experimenting with a variety of compositions.These continuously evolving works could be termed an innovative documentary photography with a visible influence of contemporary photo journalism.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2017

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