When the time came for us to find a cover photo for our 2018 Dining and Entertainment Guide, we extensively searched to find one that perfectly communicates why we keep producing this publication. Simply put, ever since the release of our very first annual guide thirteen years ago, Kuwait has witnessed incredible growth.
This growth pushes our team to work hard, year after year, to tell a story that is often overlooked in Kuwait, from the growth of opportunity, a flourishing dining scene to constantly evolving cultural experiences. Lucky for us, our search for this elusive photo proved fruitful when we came by the work of local, self-taught photographer Nader Marafi.
Through a small clearing of fauna at Shaheed Park, a moody, evocative portrayal of our city’s transforming skyline emerges. This is the city we choose to celebrate, as up to a few years ago, the park was still a plan many people merely anticipated. Today, we have incredible cultural centers, creative spaces, increasing parks, and an ever-changing cityscape, and it’s all beautiful—growing pains and all.
With his efforts to showcase Kuwait to the world and his followers, Nader’s pursuit of photography in Kuwait arrives as a creative outlet after completing his studies abroad and returning to Kuwait.
“I’m always inspired by the idea of making something ordinary look extraordinary. This always stayed with me, ever since I discovered my passion for photography as a university student.” Nader starts us off, “Being half Kuwaiti, I like to represent Kuwait, and to make sure that I represent it the best way I can.”
Graduating from Portland State University and armed with a Graphic Design degree, his path led him toward the corporate world. Still, his creative inclinations pushed him to buy his first DSLR camera in 2014 and start snapping photos. Looking to his immediate environment that is Kuwait, Nader is intrigued by the country’s constant state of evolution.
“I’m always trying to grow my skills, and look at new perspectives. Being in Kuwait, there is so much hidden beauty, you simply have to seek it out.”
A lover of architecture, graphic design and art, photography is a natural way for Nader to showcase all of these various interests.
“I feel that my photography style is a combination of all of these elements. From the design aspect, colors, and even the editing work I do to my photos, it feels natural to me, and the entire process satisfies me. When I snap a good photo, I can’t wait to get home and edit it!”
Nader plans out his photographs, and pays special attention to the timings of his shoots, the weather, especially when the probability of clouds is in question.
He continues, “I’m always looking for clouds, I love them! Whether shooting a sunset or sunrise, clouds makes a huge difference to the colors and final look of the photo. A clear blue sky is pretty, but one with clouds is way better.”
When it comes to Nader’s photos, both nature and architecture feature strongly. “Living abroad, and being half-British, I’ve always been fascinated by nature. I even recall owning a very simplistic camera when I was a university student, and the nature that surrounded me triggered me to start taking photos. When it comes to living in Kuwait, you are presented with different presets.”
While Kuwait is a small country, with limited access to certain locations, these challenges push Nader to find alternatives, and to find a unique a perspective to share with his followers. A typical sunrise by the beach becomes so much more than what people come to expect, for instance.
Noting photography as a meditative process, this solo photographer is also riveted by Kuwait’s burgeoning creative scene.
“While I do feel a sense of clarity and calm after I’ve taken a series of photos because it does take my mind off life’s daily challenges, I would love to collaborate with others in the future if that means I can showcase Kuwait at its best.” he says. “There are amazing photographers in Kuwait, and their work inspires me. They have a fresh, different perspective, that helps me be more creative as well.”
In looking to the future, Nader would love to represent Kuwait internationally, especially from a touristic perspective, he adds “I feel that a visual campaign showcasing Kuwait would be amazing. I would love to explore the idea of drone photography as well, I’ve always been amazed by this genre.”
But, why not travel the world and take pictures instead? “Well, that would be a plus,” he chuckles, “For me, taking pictures is simply what I love. I would love to explore more places on this amazing earth, see crazy landscapes, and take more pictures! There are so many other compelling cities to photograph, from Chicago, Dubai to Singapore, amongst many places.”