Big & Bright Photographers Part 4: Muhd Hidayatullah

In this four-part series of Big & Bright Photographers, four shutter masters reveal the exact ways they evoke emotion in just one shot.

Introducing Muhd Hidayatullah, Photographer and Filmmaker. 

Follow his photo journey on instagram @muhdhidayatullah.

Image: Muhd Hidayatullah

What was the turning point that made you take photography seriously? 

It all started when I browsed through my family old photo album. It brought up old memories that even I couldn’t recall clearly. Despite the fact that some of the photos were not well captured, the preciousness of the moments made me realise that it’s a feeling I want to bring to my photography now. I always open up this old photo album when I am in need of inspiration. To me, the people closest to you are your biggest source of inspiration.

Can you give us an insight on your creative process? 

I must say, it wasn’t that easy to get the portraits. I always wander around the streets, sometimes very far from where I stay, just to find interesting people in that place. What I’m trying to find are faces with characters or personalities — why does he dress up like that, is he or she is important there? Those unique characteristics from the people attract me to get closer to them. The best part is how the people react to me with my camera. Most of the time people will smile at me and laugh while looking their pictures and it’s definitely a good feeling for me. I do believe to get all these portraits I can’t be a photographer — I need to be the listener to their stories. Taking portraits of the people that I have met really open up myself to new adventures.

Describe your relationship with India. How has the country become such a vital thread of your identity? 

Coming to India wasn’t on my list 4 years ago. It happened suddenly when my friend told me about it — how beautiful it was and I will definitely fell in love with India. I didn’t believe it at first, but somehow it changed the way I see things. I would say it is the beginning of my career as a photographer. Looking back at it, I should’ve gone there earlier.

India offers me a great culture to seek for my own experience. All these add up to become the perfect place to do my kind of photography. I can experience the colors, moods and even the architecture anywhere in India.

What lessons from your architectural studies have you translated into your photography career? 

Architecture has taught me the basic principles –axis, scale and proportion, the golden ration, hierarchy, balance, symmetry and space. To an extend, even human behavior and body language. My interest in film-making and photography came out of experimenting with different genres, and I chose to work in a way that was more personal, which for me is doing portrait photography. I travel to certain parts of the world to find the best stories and capture portraits of people whom I’ve met during my travels.

Do you think the standards of being considered a “knowledgeable” photographer has lowered since the advent of social media platforms such as Instagram which has encouraged a new wave of “professional photographers”? 

I don’t think so. A good photographer will always be a good photographer. Social media platforms such as Instagram encourages creative people to be better in what they do. I would say it is like creating a branding for yourself because that is how people will know you. I see a lot of new and emerging photographers who don’t have any basic knowledge of being a photographer — they only have better taste in what they want to show to the world. I don’t blame them for being self-taught because we live in a very fast and full-of-knowledge world. Everybody can be somebody if they’re willing to put an effort into themselves.

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