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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ahmad Sabra

We were in Gaza shooting a documentary and we had heard about the orphanages and wanted to visit and document some of the children who had lost parents during the wars in Gaza.

Untitled #1, 2012 by Ahmad Sabra
Untitled #1, 2012 by Ahmad Sabra

How do you define your practice?
Portrait photographer

Do you have a website or are you represented on a website?
My personal website issabraimagery.com.au and lahza.com.au

How would you describe your relationship to the subject/s?
I would describe myself as an observer or visitor. Growing up in the Middle East I remember the Palestinian refugee camps and I'm sympathetic to their hardship.

Was the photograph a result of a constructed, fabricated or candid encounter? Please describe.
We were in Gaza shooting a documentary and we had heard about the orphanages and wanted to visit and document some of the children who had lost parents during the wars in Gaza. Nearly all orphanages in the Gaza strip rely on foreign donors and we wanted to try and raise some awareness or money. We were taken on a tour of the orphanage and introduced to a few of the children. We were shown their room and given background stories of some of the boys. Each room contained four beds and the window caught my eye and I'm OCD about lines in symmetry. I asked Mohammed to stand at the foot of his bed and took his photo.

What are the ideas or themes underpinning your portrait?
Mohammed is a son of a martyr (shaheed). His father died fighting for his country. The word shaheed gives me goose bumps when I hear it. We're brought up believing that one of the most honourable ways to die is to die as a shaheed. In general the family of the shaheed will get congratulated for the martyrs sacrifice and conceal their grief and only show pride. 'Think not of those who are slain in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive finding their sustenance from their Lord.' (Quran 3:169)

Please describe the technical aspects of your photograph?
I used a Rolleiflex SL66 medium format camera for this portrait. I used some natural light and an LED light panel to light up Mohammed.

How was the final print made? Is this print one of an edition?
Silver gelatin print on Ilford FB warm tone paper. I have only made two prints.

Describe your consideration of scale, mounting and framing in the presentation of your portrait?
I usually like to print 10 inch by 10 inch prints but for this portrait I wanted the viewer to see the details in Mohammed's face so I chose to make the print larger.

Who would you nominate as your influences?
Larry Fink

Do you have any advice for young photographers (eg. students)?
Shoot film, shoot lots and stress less about your gear.

Related information

Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low
Yhonnie and Indiana, 2012 by Janelle Low

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2013

Previous exhibition, 2013

The National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition is selected from a national field of entries that reflect the distinctive vision of Australia's aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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