Landmarks are a difficult capture. Maybe it’s a mental thing, we struggle with trying to find a unique angle or a different perspective for something photographed millions of times. Is the stress ultimately causing problems? My mentor used say this about photographing landmarks: “Find a detail to focus on, or frame the whole thing.” In other words, if you have a detail to focus on then do it, but don’t pretend that the landmark is the subject (the detail is the subject). Otherwise, surround the subject with context. The wisdom works easily if you’re working with the Liberty Bell. But what about the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa? I never would have thought it was possible to frame the world’s tallest building. Photographer Thamer Al-Hassan was clearly not intimidated by the building. He framed in – both contextually and literally – in his photograph, Arabian Identity to Burj Khalifa.
I’ve never been to Dubai, but any architecture fan follows the tall buildings. But as a photographer, such a building could be very intimidating. One would need to spend a lot of time scoping out the surroundings, trying to determine the best approach at such a shot. I suspect that Thamer spent a lot of time walking around this building, scoping it out at different distances and from different vantage points. Perhaps there are several dozen photos sitting in his recycling bin: Failed experiments, case studies and proofs of concepts. Such a study, and the finished product and this vantage point was worth every bit of effort. The frame is this massive arch, which in conjunction with the plaza, hints at the cultural roots of Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is a stark contrast and a testament to where Dubai’s identity rests in this modern era. By framing the building in the context of this arch, Thamer has made a very powerful statement. It is the very statement that the architect was trying to make with the building itself: The past is to be celebrated, but the future is high reaching.
Photos really do have power far stronger than words.
Thamer Al-Hassan is of course not shy of landmarks, nor is he a stranger to making statements with a camera. His portfolio is a testament to both. There are a number of ways you can find more of Thamer’s work. He is of course on Flickr, but you can also find Thamer and his work on 500px, DeviantArt, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and did I forget to mention his personal website? You’ll want to check that too. So really, there’s no excuse not to follow his work.