MAISA AL HOOTI: "A PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS"
Can you tell us about your beginnings with the camera?
As far as I remember, I guess I always found myself, and still do, being fascinated by many things around me, so it be pictures, painting, colors, nature and so on. Somehow, it is very hard for me not to see beauty in everything God gifted us as human beings.
May be it also has a lot do with the fact that I came from an artistic family who love and welcome new ideas and always trying to create an atmosphere of creativities; here, I am talking specifically about my mother who design both cloths and jewelries and is a renowned name in Oman. Me taking photography as a profession is to do with the fact that I have always been close to the camera since my childhood.
What did you do to develop your talent? Did you study photography arts?
Since taking pictures and capturing special moments especially within my families as far as I remember; I always knew that one day I would pursue photography as a career; and after I finished my high-school studies, I had enrolled myself in the photography program at the college as a major. That was a three year program then. I am grateful to my teachers who contributed to my development as a photographer with a more scientific approach that widened my horizon as well as taught me new techniques.
I am also following new developments in profession by attending seminars and lectures apart from surfing the Internet for new gadgets or new ideas.
Did you find difficulties in working in the photography profession?
I will not say it is difficult; but surely as in any career there are challenges and may be some obstacles here and there from time to time. The major challenge for me is coming up with idea hoping to be the first of its kind or no one thought about it before me.
As you know pictures mirror ourselves including our minds and feelings.
What are the subjects that you love to photograph and work on?
Few years ago, I decided to explore Marine life photography. It is a natural curiosity for someone living in the capital of my country Oman, Muscat. Oman as you know endowed with natural beauty including marvelous beaches.
Therefore, I took diving lessons and underwater photography classes and started to capture with my camera the hidden beauty of the sea inside and outside Oman. This has developed to be the passion of my life and really I can’t describe it enough in words.
You participated in photography competitions inside and outside Oman, what did you gain from these experiences?
Competitions always bring the better insights of us and it is healthy as long as not an ego achievement. It provides me with great opportunities to share my work with others. By me being participating in competitions inside or outside my country, I got to know my colleagues in the field of photography and helped me to expand my social and professional network. Moreover, it renews my challenges to myself for being a better photographer tomorrow.
How did you choose to photograph Omani women’s before? How was the experience?
They say “a picture worth a thousand words”. In general each person is a book by herself. I wanted people of the world to know more about the Omani Women. I wanted to capture their daily life and reflect it through my pictures so it be the cloths they wear or the smile on their faces or languages of their eyes. It was a thrilling experience and brought me closer to my Omani sister.
How did you choose the themes for the calendar photos?
My focus was on Omani women who were talented in producing traditional handicrafts of the Country and striving to tell stories with their works. And wanted to tell them that their works and their efforts will be known inside and hopefully, outside Oman.
You also participated in the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Underwater Photography. Tell us about the experience?
It was a very proud moment for me, and even more proud being the first and the only underwater Omani female. It was a clear recognition of the quality of my work and the uniqueness of my pictures.
The Award had motivated me to continue doing what I love and to improve and work hard for what I would like to achieve more.
What difference did you find between filming underwater and on land, and what were the difficulties that you found as an Omani girl?
Filming underwater has more challenges since I was going into a world of many unknown to me and the sea can possess unpredictable situation at a time. In addition, the sea is more fragile as far underwater environment is concerned. So we have to give great respect and handle things with extra care and precaution.
Being an Omani woman, I did not encounter any resistance; and on the contrary, my Omani male colleagues treated me with respect and encouraged to continue being an underwater photographer. I hope other Omani female will take advantage of our country’s underwater beautiful Marine life and develop themselves as underwater photographers.
How can your photographs reflect to the world the Arab culture in general and Omani culture in particular?
As a mentioned earlier, “a picture worth a thousand words” : I strongly believe each one who has talent in the Arab world should tell the rest of the world about us and about our lives and culture. The more we communicate as human-beings the better and more colorful our world will become. Photographers playing this role for a long time and will continue to do so. I am proud of doing my small part when it comes sharing our country and its people via my pictures.
Is there an intention to hold a special exhibition for your works during the coming period?
Yes, definitely, I want to really display my work and share my work in general as well sharing the beautiful underwater treasures we have here in Oman.