There’s a huge difference between seeing a photo-op through a lens, and seeing life through a lens. In the case of self-taught Kuwaiti urban photographer Faisal Al Fouzan, we get a sneak peak into life through his lens. With a keen eye for the marginalized, Faisal’s images always make a statement on the urban and social landscapes of Kuwait and beyond. Considering the camera as an extension of his arm, he finds his reality within the viewfinder. We get a glimpse of what it’s like, and live vicariously through his series – hashtagged accordingly. His fascination with the world stands out in his photography and draws you into it.
Originally uninterested in photography, Faisal’s curiosity piqued when he got his very first ‘like’ on Instagram in 2011. It then snowballed into a series of posts drawing the viewer further and further into his world. “I began posting pictures of everyday life scenes through my phone and really got hooked on this medium,” he stated. With time, his camera became his exploration tool – learning and experiencing different things with every click of the shutter. The trigger-happy sensation didn’t wear off and his photos kept getting better with time. His curiosity led the way and his desire to view the world from different angles grew, Faisal now has a keen eye for photo-ops.
Honing his talent, Faisal has shifted from his phone’s camera to pursuing a more technical approach. Introducing an array of cameras for his day-to-day snapshots, Faisal uses Canon, Sony, Fuji, and Leica to capture his world through a lens. But his weapon of choice is none other than “the beast” – the Canon 5D M iii. “It’s versatile and I use it a lot – so I know it very well,” he smiled, “handling it is second nature to me.” Viewing the “world as a wonderland,” Faisal’s fascination for photography and preserving a moment in eternity, refuses to falter. Architectural constructions both modern and abandoned, mixed in with the diversity of humanity and life according to everyone else, can be seen through his photos. Perfectly capturing a mirror image to reality as he sees it, forever portraying the multiplicity of life – Faisal’s work is bringing forward the art of the forgotten, marginalized, and decayed.
Separating his series through hashtags, each one tells its own story. Some themes are planned and organized, others are found and created. When there’s a project in mind, Faisal knows exactly what the correlating hashtag will be, e.g. #BabSeries – literally a series of intriguing doors. Still, there are times where he finds a photo-op, only to find the theme and series in the details – hashtags soon fall into place. The ones that intrigued us at the office the most, are the #Faisal[insert country] series. Taken across his travels, Faisal has managed to bring the world closer to home with this series. Meeting interesting people and more interesting locations along the way, everything can be turned into a photo-op. Inspired by not only beauty, but by the art of everything around us, Faisal’s gift of pictures is priceless.
A believer that the subject chooses the person – Faisal doesn’t seek out or force a project. Instead, he waits and observes, and soon enough, something speaks to him and presents itself as a subject. Driven by the sheer force of what he’s shooting, his interest in the subject grows and a new collection of photo series begins. The streets, architecture, still life, people and even the ruins of something that once was, all act as instigators for the shutter to snap. Beauty and art are all around and Faisal knows how to procure them from amidst the rubble. His eye for detail is captivating. Paintings, film and graphic design – no matter the medium – the imaginative form behind any creation inspires him. “The aesthetic components and design elements, like color, light, mood and composition, influence my photography greatly,” he added.
Living life through a lens and seeing what the untrained eye would normally miss, Faisal’s technique is enthralling. Documenting what he sees is – to him – a way of preserving and reflecting our time artistically. Lastly, when asked what photography is to him, his answer was absolutely poetic. It is “a document of our immediate history and a witness to the age we live in.”