OA: Tell me a little about what Lah’za Photography is all about. How did it begin, and how has it developed over time?
ZH: Lah’za Photography was born from a ‘brush of fate’ meeting. Ahmad and I first crossed paths at my inaugural solo art exhibition in Fitzroy, Melbourne in April 2011. Ahmad was asked to come and photograph my event by a friend of his. I saw him with his film camera and was quite taken – by the camera of course!
Over the next six months, the idea for Lah’za was thrown around as we discussed photography and got to know each other. A fateful portrait shoot that I asked Ahmad to do for me sealed the deal. We married in Dec 2011 and Lah’za – which means ‘moment’ in Arabic and incorporates both our names – was born. We have had a whirlwind year, with both of us (along with my 5 year old son) running the business, juggling work and study, and adjusting to a new life in Melbourne.
Our first year incorporated some milestone jobs and overseas trips. We travelled to Taupo, New Zealand to photograph the Seekers Retreat 2012, a very spiritual experience. We travelled to Gaza, Palestine to wrap up a documentary essay that Ahmad had been shooting of a little girl named Malak who was born without ears. To end the year, we shot a location wedding in Jakarta, Indonesia.
OA: How would you describe your photography?
ZH: Our photography is photo-journalistic, modern and candid. We try and capture the moments of a shoot in the most unobtrusive manner. Ahmad and I both have our own styles of shooting but operate with the same final aesthetic. Ahmad focuses on symmetry and light, and I focus on details and texture. We both love to capture moments that are important and precious in the most unique and creative of ways. We treat every shoot as a design challenge and utilise what we have on hand to tell the clients’ story through the lens, whether it’s a wedding, portrait shoot or at an event.
OA: What inspired you to become a photographer, and what continues to motivate you?
ZH: I have always felt like a photographer – from a very young age I could remember strong visual images. When I looked at something I could almost take a picture of it and store it away, and that’s how I would remember places, colours and objects. So when I discovered photography, I was immediately drawn to it. Primarily my focus was not technical but more about capturing emotion, colour and texture. Ahmad has a different approach to photography – his wealth of technical knowledge about cameras and photography made me appreciate it in such a different light. It made, and continues to make, me a better photographer.
My photography and artwork in general embodies a sense of celebration of this world. I love beauty and craftsmanship, and my work overlaps a number of disciplines: graphic design, photography, painting, mixed media and jewellery. I enjoy exploring all of these separately and together.
It is also one of our goals to educate people on the importance of the arts and its potential as a vehicle for good, especially in the Muslim community. We want to empower and enlighten and bring about better communication between people, and we feel that photography is a medium through which many people can find a voice. As the famous saying illustrates, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
OA: What was the most challenging part of starting out as a photographer?
ZH: I’d have to say the most challenging part is breaking into the world of photography and being taken seriously. Just about every person in the world has access to photography in some way, shape or form, so making people understand what goes into the ‘art’ of making a photograph can be quite difficult. That it encompasses much more than just clicking a shutter.
Another challenge is fulfilling your own creative vision whilst also managing the client’s needs at the same time.
OA: What are the main mediums through which you’ve sought to develop and market your brand?
ZH: It has helped a great deal that my background is in Graphic Design, so from the beginning Ahmad and I had a clear idea as to what we wanted for the branding. It is still a work in progress and it will evolve as we do, but we feel that the ethos behind why we do what we do is key. Currently, we are marketing through word of mouth and online, and want to build a solid reputation. Our website is the main portal where you can view our work, but Facebook has been a great marketing tool also.
OA: Your portfolio features many beautiful weddings, mashaAllah! What appeals to you about wedding photography? Is it your favourite type of photography?
ZH: Weddings are AWESOME! Weddings are beautiful and so pretty. There is so much emotion and laughter and love. What we cherish about weddings is knowing that the moments that we capture are ones that will be treasured for generations to come. It really makes us become part of the fabric of the couple’s history and it gives us warm and fuzzy feelings. It is also beautiful to know that our albums will be looked upon by children and grandchildren and great grandchildren for years to come.
OA: No doubt you and your husband and partner Ahmad bring different points of view to your photography. What are the benefits and drawbacks (if any) of incorporating multiple viewpoints into your work?
ZH: The beauty of the way that Ahmad and I work is that we compliment each other’s point of view and shooting style. We focus on different elements in a photo. In most shoots, Ahmad and I will shoot over one another and try different scenarios in unison. Ahmad composes the overall shots with lighting and geometry, and my shots are about the details. We love working together on shoots – if we end up working alone on a job, it feels quite different. Ahmad was recently nominated for the National Portrait Prize in Canberra; in his portrait of a Gazan orphan, he composed the shot and I lit the surroundings.
OA: What are Lah’za goals for 2013?
ZH: We are very excited about the upcoming year; we have quite a few workshops planned, and we are getting booked up for weddings and events. We may even have some overseas shoots!
Lah’za Photography covers wedding, portrait, commercial and corporate photography, and is available to shoot Australia-wide and internationally. They can be booked through www.lahza.com.au.