2018-06-21 12:18:37date was

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  • Beit El Sura: Photography Haven Opens in Maadi


    Nestled in a quiet street in the heart of Maadi is a new photography haven that is bound to get pros and amateurs excited. Beit El Sura is located on the ground floor of a residential building and offers courses, workshops and exhibitions as well as off-site photography trips.

    The founders of Beit El Sura, professional photographer Ahmed Hayman and his fiancée, media designer Reem Ossama, wanted to create something that went beyond a simple photography centre; they wanted to make a functional and holistic space that enabled aspiring photographers to explore their creative talent and for professional photographers to share their wisdom with future generations of photographers.

    CG sat down with the founding duo to ask them why Beit El Sura is such a big deal to them and to Cairo.

    “We decided to open Beit El Sura because we always had this dream and vision of creating a home for photographers in Egypt where we could spread positivity and knowledge,” said Hayman. “Photography is knowledge, it’s not about having a very expensive camera, it’s about observing and learning how to translate what you see, how to frame it and how to use the light.”

    14876487_1775488052714992_6667541447474086245_oHayman (L) congratulates photographer Hossam Diab (R) at the Beit El Sura grand opening, which also doubled as Diab’s first exhibition since 1990 (Hasan Amin/Beit El Sura Facebook)

    As one of the most popular photographers on social media, Hayman has worked for eight years as a staff photographer at Al Masry Al Youm Newspaper, and obtained a visual storytelling diploma from the Danish School of Media and Journalism in 2011. His work has taken him across 20 countries around the world and, inside Egypt, his stunning photos have covered everything from desert festivals in Fayoum to sufi gatherings in Upper Egypt. Ossama works in photography, video art creation and music video production, and notably created a music video for Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi’s track Hodou’an.

    The duo said they chose Maadi because of its relative proximity to many areas and they hope their exhibition space will make photography just as alluring a commodity as artwork.

    14753929_1775493979381066_8051226923963482142_o(Tarek Wajeh Photography/Beit El Sura Facebook

    “We want to make people appreciate photography as much as they appreciate paintings and pay a lot of money for them,” Hayman said. “People think that a picture is just a matter of a click; they don’t understand the effort and planning behind it. That’s the stereotype we want to break: we want people to learn photography, to appreciate it and to support artists who wish to have their own exhibition and want everyone to see through their eyes.”

    Beit El Sura also has a co-working space for anyone looking to work and focus in peace, and they’re also functioning as a photography agency for brands, corporates and non-profits.

    “Photography is a popular activity because it allows people to feel good all the time, to be a part of a positive community,” he said. “It allows you to see from a different perspective and to become the best version of yourself. And this is the best part about it.”

    Hayman says that it’s hard for aspiring photographers in Egypt to get the mentoring and feedback they need, instead they learn by practice. Another problem is the lack of accessible archives of iconic Egyptian photographers.

    “Whenever you Google for photos from Egypt from the 40s to the 90s, all photos on the web are of foreign photographers despite there having been incredibly strong work from Egyptian photographers; but this was never archived or shared on the web. We will be working hard to retrieve this history back and show it to everyone.”

    As for why so many Egyptians continue to get into photography and even pursue it professionally, Hayman says it’s because a fresh market where people get easily engaged.

    “All the world is improving and more photo stories are coming out,” he said. “And I believe Egypt has a lot to tell.”

    By Samar El Shams