Oman-based photographer Najed Mohmmed first caught our attention on Instagram (@Najed.ph) for her surreal portraits. At 19-years-old, this self-taught photographer is also pursuing a Law degree at Sohar University. The conceptual portraits she captures all have an air of mystery behind them that immediately draws the viewers in. Most images depict humans whose faces are covered with other images or even a plastic bag, causing one to be curious and recoil at the same time.
A photographer to keep an eye out for, we sat down with Najed to talk about her inspiration, future aspirations, and the challenges of being a young creative in Oman.
Saira Malik (S.M.): How did you begin your journey in photography?
Najed Mohammed (N.A.): I started in 2016, I would say boredom and free time is what prompted me to carry my camera and explore the world of photography.
(S.M.): You are also a Law student, does this mean this is just a side hobby or it is something you are pursuing professionally along with Law?
(N.A.): Yes, I am trying to develop my photography skills along with my passion for law and I am currently trying to rely on my photography skill as a source of income until I graduate from university, and maybe even after graduation as well.
(S.M.): What is it like being a creative in Oman?
(N.A.): You'll likely be drawn to its heritage and details, such as palm trees, clothing ornaments, pieces of jewelry, alleys of old souks and more, and you'll want to make a story out of it all.
(S.M.): How has the local Omani culture influenced your work? Does it reflect in the style and subject of your work?
(N.A.): It’s normal for the environment to affect an artist's work, and it may be influenced by other environments as well. For me, I like to mix cultures sometimes, and incorporate fabrics with traditional Omani patterns in some of my work.
(S.M.): What emotion or message do you want to convey through your photos?
(N.A.): Reality has boundaries that must be broken sometimes to see new dimensions of creativity.
(S.M.): Who is the one photographer that inspires you and why?
(N.A.): My uncle, may God have mercy on him, used to take pictures and videos and save them on tapes, through which I subconsciously learned that there were scenes worthy of memorialization.
(S.M.): What are your personal views on the creative scene in Oman in terms of what sets it apart and what you think is lacking there?
(N.A.): The creative scene as I see it is a distinct one in terms of rare ideas and artistic techniques. What is lacking is holding art exhibitions and providing opportunities for the emerging creatives.
(S.M.): What is the latest project you are working on?
(N.A.): A while ago I tried photographing horses, which was a new experience for me, and I produced works and presented them on my Instagram page, and I can say that it was a rare and special experience.
(S.M.): What future goals do you have?
(N.A.): Participating in international and local exhibitions and competitions. I also want to be one of the prominent names in the surrealist school.
(S.M.): What words of advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
(N.A.): Being persistent is the best an artist can do.
– Saira Malik
Images courtesy of Najed Mohammed