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Bahraini travel photographer Mustafa Abdulhadi speaks of his passion

By Raji Unnikrishnan

Every corner of the world holds a new way of life waiting to be discovered, believes Bahraini shutterbug Mustafa Abdulhadi. With an insatiable wanderlust, he captures the essence of diverse cultures and traditions, one frame at a time.

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“Travel fuels my lens further,” remarked Mustafa as he joined in a conversation with Bahrain This Week, emphasising his commitment to breaking into the realms of travel photography.

“By capturing everyday moments—a bustling marketplace, a traditional meal being prepared, or a group celebrating a festival—I hope to bridge cultural divides and foster understanding,” he said. 
“These photographs become windows into different worlds, sparking curiosity and appreciation for the richness of human experience.”

Mustafa has always been interested in photography, ever since he was a child. He loved the idea of being able to share his experiences with others through his photographs. Two things have always fuelled Mustafa’s passion for capturing customs, traditions, and daily life through photography: his childhood curiosity for different cultures and his desire to explore the world.

“For me, travel photography is more than just a hobby. It is a way of sharing my experiences with the world and connecting with others. It is a way of preserving memories and telling stories. It is a way of exploring the world and learning about different cultures.”

Mustafa believes that his passion is a powerful tool that can be used to educate, inspire, and connect people.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to share my work with others and hope that it will inspire them to explore the world and see it in a new way,” he said.

“My curiosity leads the way. I gravitate towards cultures with traditions or customs that particularly fascinate me, perhaps a unique food culture, a vibrant artistic tradition, or a specific religious practice. With a destination and subject in mind, I refine the story I want to tell. It is about the intricate details of a specific ritual or the daily lives of a particular community.”

Photography also plays a powerful and multifaceted role in promoting cross-cultural understanding and appreciation, according to Mustafa. 

“Images have a unique ability to transcend language and cultural differences. A powerful photograph can evoke emotions and tell a story that resonates with viewers from all walks of life. This can help bridge the gap between cultures and foster empathy. Photography allows us to see the world through another’s eyes. We can witness the daily lives of people from different cultures, their joys, struggles, and celebrations. This personalises cultural experiences and dismantles stereotypes.”

As a travel content creator, Mustafa strives to convey the essence and beauty of destinations through his work.

“Capturing the vibe, I aim to go beyond static images and evoke the atmosphere of a place. This might involve using slow shutter speeds to showcase the bustling energy of a market or wide-angle shots to capture the grandeur of a landscape. Details tell the story: Intricate details like a weathered doorway, a hand-painted sign, or a local dish being prepared can speak volumes about a place’s history and traditions,” he explained.

Growing up in Bahrain has undeniably shaped his approach to photography, especially when capturing his home country’s beauty and unique culture, said Mustafa.  

“The beauty of Bahrain lies in its unique culture, customs, traditions, and ancient events,” he said.
“As a Bahraini photographer, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to document and showcase these precious aspects of my heritage to the world. Through my photography, I hope to inspire a greater understanding and appreciation for Bahrain’s unique culture and heritage.” 

Mustafa’s captures have been featured in prestigious publications like National Geographic Travel and Smithsonian Magazine, which he regards as an honour. Focus on creating a cohesive body of work that showcases your unique style and storytelling ability, he tells photography enthusiasts, along with some tips. 

“Don’t just aim for quantity; prioritise impactful photographs that resonate with viewers,” he said.
“A well-organised and visually appealing portfolio website or online platform is crucial. Make it easy for editors to browse your work and understand your vision. And attend photography conferences or workshops where you can network with travel editors and photo editors. Build relationships and let them know about your work.” 

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