Manoeuvring her lens all around Egypt, Farida Al Bustani’s photography holds a visual integrity that will consistently take your breath away with her satisfyingly minimalistic approach, yet striking manipulation of her lens.
The 22-year-old Egyptian’s pictures never fail to instil utmost tranquility in you whilst making you question how and why you are attracted to a peach or a pomegranate.
Her clean-cut viewfinder paves the way for unique forms and colours; from beachy blues to sandy hues to transport you to the time and place the photograph was taken.
Bustani’s drive to capture beautiful things was all thanks to a cabinet in her house that had an untouched DSLR in it, that was patiently waiting for Farida to come and pick it up.
“I remember, it was a Saturday morning, and I was free, so why not just take it out. I was curious. So, I called a friend and asked them to model for me. I just remember the feeling I got when I saw the results. Did I really do that? From there I knew I found my passion and I haven’t stopped since.”
Born and raised in Gouna, Farida’s style was heavily influenced by her surroundings growing up. Her strong visual identity was an amalgamation of her love for photojournalist Steve McCurry, and National Geographic photographer, John Stanmeyer, as well as Gouna’s scenic architectural silhouettes.
“Living in Gouna helped me find my style. In Gouna you’ll find a very specific kind of architecture, and colours. I saw the same architecture all around this small town, and eventually I found this visual identity that I really did not search for, but just developed through where I lived and what I see everyday.
“What my eyes got used to, you know. My criteria would be pastel colours, architecture, minimalism. My brain would automatically create art that revolves around what I know.”
Through her ongoing adventurous excursions around Egypt, her lens capture hidden gems and images that will leave Farida with a frequently asked question when it comes to the reality of her images: is this real?
As she continues to explore the endless possibilities of what a camera can do, Farida wishes to always provide the viewer with a new perspective, she wants to show you that beauty belongs everywhere, you just have to look close enough.
So, her response to that question is: “When people ask me if my photos are real, I just take them there and say: here you go. This is the building I took a picture of. You may see a huge building but I see a window, I see the stairs on the roof.
“People often see the bigger picture, but if you look closely and zoom in, that’s what I’m here for. To show you these little things that make you wonder, look closely and you’ll find something that’s so beautiful that could possibly change your day for the better. Once you focus on the little things, you’ll start to feel more grateful and that’s what I’m trying to get people to see.”
In 2021, Farida showcased her work in a dream-like solo exhibition in Gouna. The exhibition titled Khayal (which translates as Imagination), puts you in a meditative state, telling you to “sit back, relax, and dream”, says Farida.
“Dreams are very close to my heart. They are more real than the reality itself. After this really hard year, I just wanted people to take a break from a harsh world and make them feel like they’re walking on clouds,” she said.
“Being a photographer makes me really proud. I’m just so excited to show (my art to) my kids, and my grandkids. You take a photograph and you keep it safe, and you’ll have it for the rest of your life, that’s what’s so beautiful about what I do,” Farida passionately explains.
Her photographic pursuits are derived from a place filled with an immense love for everything around her. Farida Al Bustani’s artistic intention goes beyond her aesthetically pleasing images, she wants to remind you to adjust your viewfinder and focus on the beauty surrounding you.
Nonetheless, here’s a thank you to the deserted cabinet that withheld a DSLR that ignited Farida’s photographic journey.
All images by Farida Al Bustani via Instagram.
Edited by Atiyyah Ntiamoah-Addo and Wiktor Karkocha.