It’s #TravelTuesday again right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. Usually I, Dave Williams, take the opportunity to use this platform to share some pearls of wisdom with you all about photography, Photoshop, travel, or life. Well today I’m using this platform to do something altogether different and share some wisdom from somebody else.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce 20 year old Abdulazez Dukhan. I won’t introduce him further than that, I’ll simply share the transcript of our conversation with you here, alongside some of his photos.
I am from Homs, Syria, and now I live in Belgium. After three years of war in my home we left for Turkey. It was there that my story with art began. I started to watch videos online to learn about Adobe Photoshop. In the beginning it was hard but I wanted to learn it and develop my new skill so that I could express myself in images rather than through lots of words. I have watched many different courses and put in a lot of hours of practice to try and get better in cutting images, understand colour, and all the other knowledge that goes into retouching. Since I started to use Photoshop I became more interested in photography, but it was so hard to buy a camera as I never had enough money. In January 2016 we left Turkey and moved through to Greece. I found myself in a refugee camp along with thousands of other people, living without any knowing of what the next day had in store for us. There I decided to start with the photography that had been on my mind. In the beginning I took photos on my phone to document what was happening around me. I decided to start volunteering to improve my English. I met many volunteers in the refugee camps. One of them was an Italian named Annalisa. When she went back to Italy she insisted that she want to send me a gift to thank me for helping. I declined initially but eventually after she insisted I said, “a small trip camera would be really helpful as I can document the situation,” and so my story started with photography – I had my first small camera. I trusted myself that I can be a photographer and I started taking photos. I made a small album, put it online, and started to take more and more photos. A Spanish volunteer, Carles, saw my work online and wanted to support it. He very generously sent me a Nikon D3300 as a birthday gift. I had an upgrade and my photos started to get better as my understanding of light, composition, and the technical elements of creativity grew. This time my new camera had manual mode and it allowed me to start practicing more, and in a better way. I spent many hours every day practicing and trying to understand the difference between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. After almost a year in Greece I asked a German photographer friend named Geo about a lens I was interested in and I was surprised when he said “I want to buy a new camera and I want to send you mine.” I was amazed and through such generosity I now have my own professional camera. A Canon 60D. Where I lived and what I have seen has always inspired me, those who didn’t know me but believed what I believed, that I can be photographer, gave me a feeling of strength through adversity. Living in hard conditions taught me that there is no such word as ‘impossible.’ I’ve thought hard about it and I’ve decided on the name ‘AzYeux,’ which is a combination of my name and the French word for ‘eyes.’ Creating a website and brand today makes me very glad. I always wanted to have all of my work on one website. I would love to take my photography and art to a more professional level, and do commercial work, commissions, travel, and work on big projects. I would love to meet other photographers and artists who I can learn from.
I asked Abdulazez to briefly explain some photos of his that stood out to me. Here they are, along with his explanations: –
Sometimes falling down isn’t like our world. Sometimes falling down is going up, or falling up. It reminds me a lot of pain. At some points on my journey I really felt I was making the wrong choice, but then I was surprised that it was better than the others.
I have always heard about Superman but everyone knows he is just a superhero character from movies, so I wanted to show that it is not in a movie. There are many real supermen, not in the superpower or the clothes maybe, but the goals.
I wanted to make it very clear for many people why refugees leave their countries. I used art to cut the original photo and edit it.
I took this photo in Karamanlis refugee camp in Greece. The text wasn’t exactly that, it was “save me and my children it is very cold” but as it was with the kid it didn’t work so I asked permission and changed the text to message I wanted to reach to people.
Sometimes there are just scenes you see in your mind before you make a photo. While swiping photos of Syria, I saw it as something different in my mind so I took what I learned about compositing and I made it into what I was seeing.
Through photos I tried to focus on the situation, to try to reach to media and reach out to people. People have been stuck in camps for a long time and this was an idea just to try and say, “we are still here.” #IDeserveLife
Photos in the ‘I wish I could be’ series that I have taken and edited show that these kids deserve to live and have dreams just like any other kids in the world
Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little into Abdulazez’s story and taking a look at the photos he’s made through self-taught creative skills which were realised because of the opportunities he was given from the kindness of strangers. You can find him on Instagram
or on his website
if you’d like to see more. I’d like to thank Abdulazez
for letting me share this portion of his story and his journey, and a massive thanks to KelbyOne
for giving him access to their courses to further develop his skill, and to Platypod
for giving him an Ultra and a Sport Breathe strap to add to his collection of gear.