Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ahmed Hayman: Photojournalism, the Neo-Egyptian Way.

This article was published in Detour Magazine, May 2013.

Ahmed Hayman, the social media star and the multi-talented photojournalist sat with us in an afternoon to reveal more about his career, passions and personality. 

A renowned wanderlust, Hayman traveled the world, from Africa to Europe to the U.S. in order to capture a split second of breathtaking portraits of life and beauty. 

He talked to us about cultural misconceptions around photojournalism in Egypt, “people still think that I will be manipulating their pictures through Photoshop,” he said. Adding that the same old “conspiracy theory” fear is still running, “I thought things will change after the revolution, but then people started accusing photojournalists, especially foreign ones of being spies.”

Hayman thinks that journalistic ethics should be applied on all workers of the field equally, “as a photojournalist, you have to have to put aside all your affiliations and to be as much neutral as possible.” 

Hayman explained that photojournalists are often underpaid, debunking a misconception about the “Dollars” that people think they receive per month. He also added that photojournalists operate in difficult work conditions, “now if you’re covering a demonstration, clashes can erupt at any moment and photojournalists are always targeted; either they want to break your camera or hurt you physically.”

Ahmed Hayman referred to a protest by Egyptian photojournalists on March 19th in reaction to the increasing violence against them. “This protest got international media attention and that’s what we needed, for our voice to be heard,” Hayman said. 

Hayman continues to collaborate with Al-Masry Al-youm, a leading independent newspaper in Egypt, he said that under the new regime, his newspaper is now perceived differently, after being praised for defending the Muslim Brotherhood under Mubarak’s regime, it is now being accused of misleading the public.

Hayman explained that photojournalism differs from any other type of photography as you don’t control the setting where you work.” You go out in the street, you meet people you don’t know and you have to take the picture no matter what event this is,” he said, “expect the unexpected, be prepared to shoot a court case, a demonstration or even a sports event.”

Hayman spoke about the most interesting event he has covered, which is a Nubian wedding, “I loved everything about it, the food, the music and the culture.” He added,” traditional Hinnah remained on my hands for four months; it left red marks on my nails.” 

“I generally love attending both weddings and funerals, they represent the contrast of life and death.”
Despite being a passionate traveler, Hayman insists on not leaving Egypt permanently, “I want to be able to be based in Egypt and travel abroad from time to time.”

He is also known for keeping high hopes and a positive spirit, “I listen to Bob Marley while driving, and it helps a lot with the horrific Cairo traffic.” To keep this spirit, Hayman works on a charity project called “A colorful future” where he helps getting water supplies to homes in rural areas of Egypt. So far water the project has provided water to 70 families, “I do it mainly to see the smile on people’s faces.”

Hayman called people to take on social responsibility to do whatever they can to help improve their community and not wait for the government to do something, because obviously it has a lot of unsolved problems already. 

Ahmed Hayman, an Egyptian photojournalist. Photo Credit by Noha Hamdy.

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