What makes for impactful visual engagement online? Possessing strong visual communication skills like photography, videography, and editorial vision are surely, a plus.
Kuwait boasts a flourishing photography scene, and we could even say that there is a surplus of fantastically talented local photographers, as their work speaks for itself. However, it’s what you do with your skills and talents that sets you apart from the rest. For one Abdulaziz AlSorayia, this premise cannot be more true.
A quick browse through his Instagram account yields an impressive visual showcase of striking client work with the best telecoms in town, vibrant tech companies, lifestyle brands, local coffee and food concepts and even international clients. His visuals are expertly mapped out, and his Instastory and IGTV features present daily tips and tricks in photography and videography.
Moreover, Abdulaziz currently heads up the creative department at the Ministry of Youth, and in his spare time offers regular workshops to his peers. And while everything looks so picture-perfect, the journey behind Abdulaziz’s rise has been quite rife with challenges that honed his skills along the way to lead him to where he is today. “And I’m still learning,” he chuckles, gesturing to his latest reading material on the coffee table. “I don’t just read about photography, I read about everything. It opens up your mind in the most amazing ways.”
Back in 2009 and while Abdulaziz was studying mechanical engineering, all he wanted was to buy a camera—a decision his family firmly opposed, thinking it might distract him from an already challenging field of study. Abdulaziz never loved mechanical engineering, and even one of his university professors took note of this lack of desire and advised him to switch fields.
“I was faced with a tough choice,” he recounts, “I was struggling to get by with my studies, I wanted to please my family, but I saved money to buy my first camera. I took pictures of anything and everything. I didn’t have a clear direction, I wasn’t professionally trained. I never imagined that I could ever make a career out of this camera. The entire time, I was worried about university.” It’s 2011 and Abdulaziz was already three years into one degree where he wasn’t doing well at all, with one to go, and he was faced with the decision to leave. He couldn’t quit university, he just needed a degree. Being naturally politically inclined, he switched majors to complete his studies in political science with a minor in media.
During that time, Twitter and Facebook were prevalent, especially with the rise of the Arab Spring. This was when Aziz took his passion to Twitter. Armed with a new camera lens that he purchased from his cousin, he set about taking candid shots at university, especially during election seasons. He says, “I edited my own photos, and shared them on Twitter with simple mentions with friends and various people I captured. Three weeks later, my timeline was flooded with replies and retweets.”
People began asking him to take pictures for money, “and this was something I honestly had no clue about. I didn’t know how to handle clients, but I knew that I already had strong communication skills.” Not only was Abdulaziz practicing his passion, he was also studying a specialty that he actually deeply enjoyed. He continues, “I was able to do both. How things fall into place always amazes me.”
After graduating with honors, Abdulaziz had already developed a budding client list. By then, he had gained early market experience on the ground level working with agencies and freelance clients alike, and entered several photography competitions. When he won the Viva Passion Photography award (an astounding AUDI R8 was the prize), he actually helped his family by funding their dream of completing the build on their home.
He says, “I knew it was meant to happen, and I was so pleased to help. This drove me to better understand why I chose photography as a field.” He went from one environment which he was willing to stick out, to one that helped hone his personality and taught him critical problem solving skills that he still employs to this day. “I don’t like ever telling a client no,” Abdulaziz says, “I don’t like refusing any phone call, whatever the circumstance. I will do my best to solve the situation, and even if I couldn’t do the job myself, I’d recommend other photographers if need be.”
With the rise of social media in Kuwait, an already highly lucrative demographic that was set to embrace these platforms to change the very way we do business today, many others took note of Abdulaziz’s work with clients like Zain, and various restaurants and cafes in Kuwait. When Abdulaziz’s cousin, Abdulrazzaq AlSorayia, moved back from the States after completing his studies, he told him that it was his journey that inspired him to buy a camera and take up videography. From there, a natural partnership was born. And with Instagram’s gradual addition of 15-second videos, people, specifically clients, began taking more note of their collaborative work. They completed photography, video projects and coverage work for clients like Zain, and they were also a standout at one particular Nuqat conference. They worked effortlessly, capturing photo and video footage and sharing it to audiences.
Did they have all the equipment that they needed? “Not even. We were happy to rent out expensive equipment that added to our costs if need be,” He explains, “We just cared about the quality of the work that we did. And aligning ourselves with clients like Zain, for instance, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
At Nuqat, they were producing and editing videos on the spot, and in doing so they created a brilliant, and ultimately new dynamic experience for attendees. One that was noticed by Sheikha Al Zain Al Sabah from Kuwait’ Ministry of Youth. She requested a meeting with Abdulaziz, and a casual conversation about media ended up with her requesting him to handle the ministry’s social media department to drive content creation.
To this day, Abdulaziz still spearheads the creative department at the ministry, where he exercises all of his experiences at this post. “I work with an incredible department, it’s more of a creative incubator that is alive with talented graphic designers, photographers and visual creatives” he says, “Sheikha Al Zain is always keen on new talent, and she empowers employees to grow as people.”
Abdulaziz and Abdulrazzaq still worked on their own personal projects, and they have gone on to collaborate with some of the greatest creative minds in the country and region. He considers his collaboration on Zain’s latest campaign for the National and Liberation Day holidays as one of the most important projects he had worked on yet.
“We were finally considered as DOPs (directors of photography), and i was the Secondary Director of Photography” he adds, “working with amazing people like Abdulaziz Al Jasmi from this campaign and Dr. Ziad Al Hussaini in the past emboldened us and gave us the confidence to do more and to promote our work. I personally consider working with these greats and many others as an education, in and of itself. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”
From banking (NBK and Boubyan Bank, amongst many others) and telecom clients (Zain, Viva) to niche local concepts, Abdulaziz and Abdulrazzaq keep on delivering fantastic work, with notable campaigns with Try Carriage (April Fool’s Day campaign) and CAF Café, the latter arriving as one of Abdulaziz’s favorite client case studies.
He says, “With CAF, I found the perfect challenge in branding, content creation and visual mapping. When I take on any account, I need to begin from scratch when it comes to content creation. I work with the client to set up the identity and to create content that fulfills this vision.” Not only is CAF successful, it has also been franchised to Riyadh with more expansion plans in the pipeline.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL QUESTIONNAIRE
What do you most value in your friends?
I truly value the time and endless support that they give me, through the good times and the bad.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being content with what I have and what I can accomplish. Also, peace of mind.
What is your greatest fear?
Being negligent, or careless, with anyone I deal with.
في هالاعلان بغيت ابين الرياضيين وبالاخص المدربين الي متعاملين مع الشركة تيونج لتوفير وجباتهم عشان يحافظون على نظامهم الصحي… دايما قابل الاشخاص الصجيين لان وقتها بتسمع كلام من قلب لين القلب راح يوصل للمشاهد دايركت بمجرد تسألهم سؤال عن تجربتهم . المهم تتوقعون منو الشخص الياي الي بسوي حقه نفس هالفيديو وتجربته مع تيونج ؟!
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Suppressing knowledge, envy and arrogance.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Help others and it will come back to you in unexpected ways.
What is it that you most dislike?
Hatred, ungratefulness, and negligence.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
A pilot, so I could travel to different countries and take pictures!
بذمتك / ج بعد هالفيديو ما خططتوا او سألتوا شنو حلو اليوم بعد الفطور …. في هذا الفيديو بغيت اشمل ٣ اشياء الموقع والمكان واهم ما يقدم بس مهم جدا تسأل الكلاينت شنو الاهم فيهم لان اهوا الشي الي راح اتبلش فيه وتاخذ المشاهد برحلة تقفلها بتجميع كل شي على بعضه وبعدها الويب سايت وبس والله … | المهم الي يطلب ويكثر مو يدعي علي بالنادي | * director cut * For @rococoakw
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m still searching for my greatest achievement.
Who or what do you treasure the most?
What is your most marked characteristic?
I couldn’t specifically speak about myself, but people always tell me that I’m really interactive, and I can’t say no to anyone who asks for my help or expertise.
Where would you most like to live?
Help others and it will come back to you in Dubai. unexpected ways.
What is it that you most dislike?
Hatred, ungratefulness, and negligence.
Which talent would you most like to have?
What are your favorite words to live by?
For more information, daily photography tips, and to register in upcoming workshops, follow Abdulaziz AlSorayia on Instagram @Alsry3.