Known for her self portraiture, Nadirah Zakariya bears the hallmarks of great artistry: unfettered candor to one’s inner-most thoughts; the ability to comfortably straddle complexity and vagueness; and a talent to share a relatable story with her varied audience.
We speak to Nadirah Zakariya to find out more:
WHAT’S NEW FOR YOU IN 2021?
Keep an eye out for Exposure+ Photo 2021, planned for September 2021 in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate visual story-telling. We’ve curated several Malaysia-based and international photographers to share their photography projects. It’s the latest iteration of KL20x20 that happened in 2020, and founded by myself and Steven Lee, sharing a similar format of multi-venue exhibitions, workshops and presentations over a three-week period in the city centre.
DID THE MCO AFFECT YOUR STYLISTIC EYE IN ANY SENSE?
I regarded MCO #1 as akin to an artist residency. I kept busy with photography projects at home, focusing on still-life works. It was a time to be alone and get to know myself as a fine photography artist. I’ve been wanting to experiment with shooting objects like sculptures, and experimenting with different textures for more tactility. For example, I started working with agar-agar, and I’m super excited about the translucent texture it creates. Photographically I’m thinking of putting objects in the jello and see how they might appear. Plus, with agar-agar there’s a short lifespan before they decay. Everyday they morph into something else. I find that impermanence really interesting.
I’ve always communicated better in photos than words. And I just have a need to do something with my hands. That and my primal need to communicate visually, it’s a feeling that’s bigger than me. Some people run, and some write poetry, but for me, I need to create.
WHAT DOES THE CREATION PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
First I need to disconnect from the distractions around me and be who I am by following my instincts. Having the time and focus to hone your craft is very valuable. Personally, I’ve been forced to take things slower, and learned not to be too hard on myself. Part of knowing yourself is understanding your limits too. But the whole MCO has taught me to just be open to the uncertainty of things. It’s good to have a plan, but just because things to fall into place doesn’t mean it’ll be worse. You might even have it better!
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHANGES IN THE PAST YEAR?
In the last couple of years, I’ve transitioned from photographer into video director. It’s something I’m still learning. From my video work, I’ve learned to be a better event organiser, which helps my own work as a photographer. Plus, I’ve come to see that there’s power in working from the comfort of your home as well.
HOW CAN PEOPLE MAKE A CAREER OUT PHOTOGRAPHY?
First, you have to shoot all the time; and be open to making mistakes. Your primary objective should be to know and develop your own voice because then you’ll have something to contribute to the photography community which is pretty saturated. See, you can be the most technically skilled photographer but if your images can’t move people, they aren’t not good enough. Secondly, your work ethics go a long way. Be nice and kind to everyone around you because a good attitude is what people remember. People will want to work with you again if they like you and appreciate your work ethics.