Two years is a long time to be hooked to the idea of a time-lapse: the fervid ambition to capture the essence of a place — Doha, in this case, the man hours, the obstacles, the frustration, the patience — all testing the endurance of one’s passion. Fortunately, Sami Qazi proved equal to the task. The result is a labour of love most of us can be proud to own. The release of This Is Where I live (Qatar) time-lapse (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKleoxww8IU&feature=youtu.be) has coincided with the spurt of love, loyalty and patriotism for Qatar at home what with the ongoing Gulf crisis. It lifts the spirit of all those who live here; citizens and expat residents alike. No wonder, it is making waves on the social media.
Community sat down recently with the 30-something Pakistani, who has made such a splash with the time-lapse to know more about him and the work. Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us briefly about yourself …
I am a self-taught photographer and videographer. My father came to Qatar in the Seventies; since then, we have been living in Qatar. I was born and bred in Doha. I passed secondary school here from the Pakistan Education Centre and did my graduation from Pakistan before returning to Qatar. Currently, am associated with the Al-Kass Sports Channel — my office for the past 10 years.
When and how did you conceive This Is Where I live (Qatar) video/time lapse?
I am passionate about photography and videography — specifically time-lapse videos. I intend to post a time-lapse video once a year at least. I began shooting for This Is Where I live in mid-2015, while shooting for Mega Qatar.
I decided to name it about four months ago when finalising the shots.
I am a part of this time-lapse community (a group of different time lapsers around the world), and I wanted to share with them the beautiful country where I am born and where I live. I made this video to proudly show to the world what my birthplace looks like.
Was there a specific video/time-lapse that motivated you?
Years ago, I watched a time-lapse video for the first time on YouTube; it was Norway or Denmark, I’m not really sure now. It inspired me so much that, since then, I began toying with cameras and self-practising for time-lapses (I remember taking GoPro from a friend just to test timelapse features on it). For the past few years, I have been making at least one time-lapse video a year and posting it on my social media platforms.
Was it a collaboration? Who provided the musical score? What equipment did you use? How long did it take to turn in the product?
Like with my previous videos, it is a solo concept and effort. I’m very thankful to the people who helped me in accessing locations and shooting approvals, I always credit them all in my videos, especially my friends Aamir MD Naeem, Nabeel Baig and Shams Qtr.
The music for This Is Where I Live is by Songwriter and Producer Ivan Torrent. I chased him for long by emails to get his approval to use his masterpiece in my video. Finally, one lucky day, after five months, he consented to it happily.
For shooting this video I have used two Canon cameras, 550D and 6D, and several lenses. It took me almost two years to complete the project.
Who is it dedicated to, if at all?
It is dedicated to Doha, Qatar, and every person living here.
Tell us about your other projects…
I have already started working on my next project that has slo-mo shots and some really cool visuals. I hope people will enjoy it, too.
Who and what themes inspire you the most, and why?
I fancy landscapes and sky scrapers. Often while listening to soothing and soulful music, various concepts and ideas pop up in my mind.
How do you manage to juggle work and your passion?
Ahh... I must say it’s really tough, especially for a guy who works in shifts but I guess your passion, love and enthusiasm for something motivates you to spare time out of a robotic life to feel yourself come alive!
What is that you particularly like about Qatar?
Peace of mind and safety. I must say it is the most secure and safest place on earth, Alhamdulillah. May Allah make this glorious country more prosperous — Amen.
What is your life’s goal and desire?
My utmost goal and desire is to work in the field of my passion as a Visual Director. (I hope my HR department is reading this!).
What sport do you follow?
Football, table tennis and MMA (mixed martial arts).
You’re also an avid photographer. What is closer to your heart — videography or still photography?
I believe learning is fun so I like to try both depending on mood. But one has got to always focus on one’s work with the core of one’s heart to get the best out of it.
What is your mantra in photography?
I consider it an expression of my fantasy, opinion and perspective.
How do you define a good photo?
I personally believe it is a perfect frame. Though people have their own opinions and approach, I concentrate more on frames.
What is the genre of photography that appeals to you?
I am more into landscapes, but I love portraits, too. I have worked less on portraits, but you will find a few of them on my social media profile.
What, in your considered view, is the best image you have ever taken, and why?
Honestly, I feel I need to learn more to reach that level of contentment where I can tell myself…“Yes, this is a masterpiece”.
Who is the single greatest influence on your life and why?
This might sound funny, but in my adolescence, I was very fond of action and super fiction films and music videos with super cool camera work and CGI animation.
I remember, back in those days, my favourite music videos were Between Angels & Insects by Papa Roach; Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day; The Pretender by Foo Fighters and Waiting For the End by Linkin Park; Mahi by Hadiqa Kiyani; Anjani by Strings; and Matrix (film-wise). Such visuals have always inspired me to do something similar, but I haven’t done anything nearer to these graphics yet, but who knows! Someday, In Sha Allah.
Personally speaking, I credit my father for highlighting this hidden talent in me. It was he, who recognised my photography skills at an early age when I didn’t know anything about cameras. But the way I used to capture a frame, that’s what my father got attracted to. And so I became the official family photographer! My father’s confidence in me catapulted my interest in photography and videography.
What single life lesson would you advise people wanting to succeed in photography as a career?
Be humble and patient with your talent. Keep learning. Turn a deaf ear to negative voices and a blind eye to the naysayers, but do heed genuine and sincere people. Believe in — and rely on — yourself only. Focus on your work and don’t expect help or favours from anyone. And, if someday, you become someone, then, tread lightly.
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