Photography classes

Mohamed Somji of Gulf Photo Plus is in Doha this month to teach a digital camera course for beginners. Here’s why you should get involved

Photography classes
Photography classes Image #2

How long have you been teaching photography?
I’ve taught beginner and intermediate workshops for just over two years now, and have been an avid photographer since 2005. I don’t teach full time, but definitely enjoy imparting my knowledge and skills.

What is Gulf Photo Plus, and is this the first time you’ve brought it to Doha?
Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) is an Dubai-based organisation dedicated to promoting and nurturing photography in the region through workshops and training programmes. GPP also organises photography-related events, from festivals to smaller, community driven slidefests, where local photographers exhibit their work. GPP has held several workshops in Doha in the past.

What are you looking to teach in this class, and who is it aimed at?
This course aims to welcome the beginner to the world of professional photography. D-SLR cameras are becoming more and more accessible, but quite often people buy a fantastic camera and continue to take pictures in auto mode. Their D-SLR becomes a very expensive point-and-shoot camera! This class walks you through every button and setting in a typical D-SLR that is crucial for capturing great images. We’ll also introduce some conceptual elements about composition that allow you to improve your shots further. Participants will leave this class armed with the skills that take advantage of their D-SLR camera options, and capture images the way they intend them to be seen.

Why should people enrol in a course to achieve this?
When you take shots in auto mode, you leave everything up to the camera. Advances in current technology are amazing, and the camera can do a lot for you, but not everything. The camera, for example, does not know which child is yours on the soccer field, or that you will be happy if most of your campfire picture is dark. Learning about aperture can help you focus on the actual subject, blurring out the surroundings – metering will help you with special light situations. Without learning how to adjust for particular subjects, you might end up with an OK photo, but you could have captured something amazing.

Are the techniques covered only applicable to D-SLR cameras, or can they be applied to a point-and-shoot model?
This particular course is aimed at D-SLR users, and while we do not discourage point-and-shoot cameras, we believe that the versatility of the D-SLRs allow a photographer to achieve much better results and cover a wider range of photo opportunities.

What was it that made you so interested in photography?
I’ve always been interested in photography as a hobby, but it was the 9/11 event that was the catalyst to a career change from the corporate world. I became very curious about world affairs and politics. I discovered documentary photography and found it to be a very powerful and compelling way to tell stories and raise awareness of social issues. Documentary photography is where my passion lies, but in order to support myself I do a lot of commercial projects as well.

What makes an interesting photo in the Middle East?
I find there are a lot of opportunities in fish and vegetable markets, and of course the beaches and deserts. I would imagine the corniche in Doha would make for great skyline photographs at dusk or night-time.

Is photography expensive?
It doesn’t have to be. I find that a lot of enthusiasts can get carried away with buying the latest camera body or lenses, but I always advise people to work on the creative side and keep shooting. It’s important to become comfortable with the camera, so you can worry about capturing what’s out there rather than fiddling with the settings. Really, the only things to invest in are a good tripod – essential for low light or night photography – and an inexpensive fixed lens, for example a 50mm F1.8 lens. This produces some beautiful shots and also improves composition.

Will Gulf Photo Plus plan more events and activities in Doha?
I think that there are some talented photographers in Doha, so we hope to come back again for sure.

Digital Photography: Level 1 by Gulf Photo Plus will be held from February 5-6, 10am-3pm. Cost is US$235 (approx QR863). Book online at Location will be announced on the website.

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