In pictures: Capturing the beauty of empty landscapes
May 14, 2018 | 9:17 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Meet Ahmed Al Hosni, better known as Ahmed the Empty Quarter Photographer. From a young age, Al Hosni, who is now 31, had a passion for photography.

“I started taking pictures when I was in school, my friends and I used to rent film cameras,” Al Hosni said. “I stopped for a while and started taking pictures again when I got a mobile phone. A few years later, I was able to buy my first digital camera,” he added.

“Social media has played a very important role in developing me as a photographer. In the beginning when I started posting my photos on Facebook, the reactions I received from viewers made me challenge myself,” said Al Hosni.

The Photographic Society of Oman (PSO), which plays a significant role in fostering and educating future photographers in the Sultanate through lectures, workshops, and competitions, influenced Al Hosni too.

“When I was just starting my journey, I saw an advertisement by the PSO, regarding a lecture on the basics of photography. I consider that to be my turning point. I was exposed to other photographers and I was able to see the level of work that others provide,” said Al Hosni.

“The knowledge I received from participating in exhibitions, competitions and from meeting other photographers, helped me become a better photographer. The PSO works as a support system for the artiste,” he added.

Al Hosni’s relationship with the Empty Quarter started even before he began taking pictures of it. He had access, because of his job, to areas that other photographers would find difficult to reach.

“When I began taking photos of the Empty Quarter in 2013, people used to be amazed that such locations exist in Oman,” said Al Hosni said. “I used to go to places that could not be accessed by any vehicles and so we would have to walk for two hours, sometimes.”

Since his photos were taken from a high angle, it could be concluded that they were captured using a drone. On the contrary, Al Hosni would walk up mountain peaks to get such a view.

“It was very difficult for me to capture those photos, I would have to walk in the sand, then climb up the mountain sometimes for 30 to 45 minutes to get to a high peak point. I had very simple equipment, which did not cost more than OMR160,” said Al Hosni.

What distinguished Al Hosni from other photographers who took photos of the Empty Quarter is that he used the theme of people walking in the sand; his pioneering work earned him the title “Ahmed the empty quarter photographer”.

“At the time, no one else used such a theme in their photographs of the empty quarter. I believe that this theme helped me win seven competitions locally and internationally. There was always documentation of the empty quarter but never an artistic documentation,” said Al Hosni. He managed to find beauty in the emptiness.

Al Hosni has established Sawarah Oman, which is a children’s photography club, at the Child Care Centre in Al Khoudh. His students at Sawarah have won local and international awards.

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