Reality show I am a Nat Geo Photographer returns to National Geographic Abu Dhabi tomorrow at 10pm, continuing its mission to nurture the talent of young photographers from across the Arab world.
The four-part mini-series shoots in different countries across the Middle East and North Africa, and features four amateur photographers who compete against one another in a series of challenges as they try to capture a photograph worthy of being featured in National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine.
I am a Nat Geo Photographer is presented by the Saudi social media star Tariq Edrees, founder of the online TV channel lifestyle-dubai.com, while the judging panel is headed by Egyptian photographer Marwa Abou Laila, founder of the Photopia studio and gallery. Guest judges are drawn from the professional photography community across the Arab world.
Each week, the show will pit contestants against each other with a different theme and challenge, with tomorrrow's season opener focusing on light. The winner, announced during the final show on April 10, will receive an all expenses-paid National Geographic expedition to Tanzania worth more than US$10,000 (Dh36,725), during which their skills will be further developed by the best experts at National Geographic, in addition to $7,500 worth of photography equipment courtesy of Nikon and their photo appearing in National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine.
Obaid Al Budooror, or Beedii as he is known to family and friends, is an Emirati artist who is an explorer by nature, passionate about travelling and the great outdoors. He took up photography eight years ago and has become an avid visual storyteller.
"To be a National Geographic photographer for me means being true to my work and having the ability to capture reality without exaggeration and showing people the beauty of the world and nature as well as capturing human behaviour. My strength as a photographer is that I don't give up easily. I think differently and outside the box. My weakness is my stubbornness, being stuck on an idea and not being open to other possibilities."
Hesham Al Humaid is a young Saudi health management technician from Dammam, who picked up the camera at a young age. Like Al Budooror, he is also a die-hard explorer, travelling to the furthest corners of the world every year in search of the perfect portrait and story.
"To be a National Geographic photographer is a huge thing. It is not easy to be a NatGeo photographer. A NatGeo photographer in my view has unique characteristics, he is a person who can handle tough circumstances and can adapt to any situation. To become a NatGeo photographer is a dream for me. My strength as a photographer is my love for adventure. I am courageous and this gives me the ability to always have unique images. My weakness is my shyness, which limits my abilities as a photographer."
Cynthia Ghousoub, a young Lebanese photographer and artist in Beirut, took up photography recently and uses it to complement her multimedia artistic creations through exploring many themes related to the self, memory and social identity.
"To be a National Geographic photographer is a dream I had since my childhood. It means a lot to me because it will give me the opportunity to travel the world and meet people of different cultures. My strength as a photographer is my compassion towards others and my ability to always feel with others and capture their emotions. My weakness as a photographer is not coping well outside my comfort zone and feeling unsettled in situations I am not familiar with."
Amina Sabry is a freelance Egyptian photographer in Cairo. She specialises in food, portraits and wildlife photography and hopes to make photography her full-time career.
"To be a National Geographic photographer is a dream I grew up with. As a child I used to always wait impatiently for the National Geographic magazines and today I am extremely happy to be here realising my dream.
"My strength as a photographer is my ability to put emotions in all that I do. I treat every element as if it were the most beautiful element on Earth. My weakness as a photographer is being too emotional with and towards my subjects – where I tend to compromise my photography to ensure my subjects are not affected."