At 5’ 1”, Noor ul Ain Ali’s slight frame hides behind the giant camera lense as she navigates herself through rowdy celebratory crowds at weddings almost every night in Karachi. Noor may be tiny, but her pictures pack a punch of emotion. Which is why Lighthouse Photography, a studio she runs with her husband Ali, is one of the most popular in the country.
The 26 – year – old photographer fell in love with the camera as a teenager in England, and consequently found her entire life revolving around her passion. It was as an active image uploader on Flikr, a photo-sharing platform, she met Ali. They connected by appreciating each other’s work, and sharing tips and tricks. Finally when she moved back to Pakistan, they met and eventually found themselves running a studio together.
The couple has now branched out to include fashion and celebrity portraits to their portfolio and have also been working for charitable organizations, including Aman Foundation and Jhpiego.
Today Noor ul Ain answers some questions about her experience as a photographer and her style choices.
Why do you take pictures?
I bought my first camera when I was 14 to help me with my art. I was an art student then and my drawings and paintings took a long time to complete. But after buying the camera, I fell in love with photography and the instant results. This was really exciting for me.
What do you love photographing?
Old cities! Also, any time I see really good light, regardless of the place or subject.
One picture that you keep turning back to?
It’s such a perfect image. When I shot it, I had no idea the colours would be so beautiful. I love the fact that there are boats just under the bridge. This image, for me, is timeless. Nothing in it tells you whether it was shot in 2015 or 1950.
One picture that you are immensely proud of?
There’s this photograph I took of a horse in Iceland. was quietly grazing away from the herd against a perfect backdrop, at the time I only had a wide-angle lens with me so I had to go really close to the horse in order to get the right composition and I was afraid I would disturb him and he would look up but he didn’t and I got the shot.
I titled it “Lone Palomino.”
What do you dream of photographing?
How can a picture become an authentic form of self-expression?
It should tell a story
Three Photographers you love to follow?
3. Alice Gao
4. Ruairidh McGlynn (Sorry that’s four)
How does the camera empower you?
When I was shooting for various aid agencies in interior Sindh I felt that being a woman really helped me get good pictures. In our part of the world women open up more in front of other women which in turn leads to more real photographs that tell a story.
It’s empowering to be able to make other women feel comfortable in front of the camera.
What do you wear while you’re behind the camera?
Well fitted trousers and a nice cotton shirt.
And what’s your style preference in general?
Mostly block colours or stripes. Minimal cuts but those that are well tailored.
I’ve developed an aversion to elaborate prints due to an abundance of lawn everywhere.
What would you wear every day if you could?
All white or all black.