This Asharq Alawsat human interest piece is worth reading. It tells the story of a Saudi woman, Susan Baaqil, who developed her interest in photography from a hobby, to a career as a portraitist, to a photojournalist for Reuters. Even within the social confines of Saudi culture, she has been able to progress in her skills and talent both in content for journalistic purposes and in style for artistic purposes. The story also shows that there are Saudi women who are able to circumvent the social barriers that keep many of their sisters under-developed.
First Saudi Female Photographer to Join â€˜Reutersâ€™
Omaima al Ferdan
Asharq Al-Awsat, Jeddah – Joining the ranks of photographers affiliated to a prestigious establishment such as â€˜Reutersâ€™ was the payoff after a long journey that spanned over 25 years in which Saudi photographer, Susan Baaqil, seldom put down her camera.
As an amateur, Baaqil used to collect photographs and cut others out of newspapers and magazines, which was one of the first indicators of her fascination and attachment to photography. This paved way for her to hone her skills taking wedding pictures in various cities around Saudi Arabia. The reserved nature of the community was among the reasons she was able to achieve acclaim among the ladiesâ€™ circles, thus attaining fast renown among her female subjects.
Baaqilâ€™s first collection of photographs was titled â€˜The Shadow of a Palm Treeâ€™, which she created using her Canon camera and which chartered the beginning of her exploration of light and shadow. Although superficially they were images of palm trees, Baaqilâ€™s eye was able to translate the beauty of the photographed subject whilst conveying the subtle nuances of the language of black and white photography. The subject of her photographs may have been conventional; however the innovation of the eye behind the lens was clear from the start. This original approach led her to set up a photography studio in 1983 in which she only photographed female subjects.
The ambitious photographerâ€™s transformation from amateur to professional came through an academic gateway when she went to the US to study photography. â€œMy relationship with the camera surpasses the moment of the click of the button. This is what prompted me to study the fine art of photography with all its diverse approaches, methods and principles,â€ she said.