LAHORE - When photographer Zaheer Chaudhry came to know there was no art gallery in scenic Gilgit-Baltistan, he decided to hold road shows with 44 pictures in small towns of the province.
Zaheer recently completed his tour of small towns of Gilgit-Baltistan where he showcased his pictures at a series of road shows. The road shows were meant to introduce the locals to people, cultures, landscapes and heritage of other provinces. He pursued his passion to interact with the locals and educate them about different cultures of Pakistan. “The locals are so generous. They continue to ask questions until they get a satisfactory answer,” says Zaheer.
He said, “I will never forget a question asked by a 10-year-old boy, a 6th grade student of the Government Middle School for Boys, Nagar. He asked, why answers of math questions are always the same, but students in a drawing class draw different sketches of the same view?”
“When you photograph people of rural areas, they always ask to see their photos and you have a crowd around your tiny camera screen. I love these moments,” Zaheer told The Nation during a telephone interview from Gilgit-Baltistan. His collection contains pictures of cultures and children of Quetta, Sibbi, Mastung.
Taking about the concept of road shows, Zaheer says one must understand the concept of formation of diamond from carbon. “Perfect chemistry of carbon is important to produce a perfect diamond. The process is a phenomenal journey of coal becoming diamond. People work in caves and mines and dig pieces of coal containing diamonds. And then experts carve these diamonds from undertones to exquisite and precious stones,” he said.
“This is exactly how parents, teachers and the social system carve a raw child into a gem, making him precious for the society and the world,” he said.
“I have been looking out for these stories and photographing children since I bought my first camera phone. I'm sharing these stories at different forums, exhibitions and award shows since then,” he said.
The local communities are so intelligent and “all we need is to sharpen them and utilise them. Some of these stories were nominated for National Geographic Hong Kong Award and also won Pakistan's 1st Photojournalism Award.
Zaheer said all this took him closer to rare stories of extraordinary students in remote areas across Pakistan. “I dedicated this roadside photography exhibition to people I photographed,” Zaheer said.
“Roadside photography exhibition are not a new idea, but in Pakistan we are always planning exhibitions and art shows on walls and we always have the most relevant audiences, kin and friends,” he said.
Zaheer said he had started his road shows from Gilgit where on October 24 he had organised an exhibition of his photographs at Gilgit College of Commerce.