I believe in my eyes, I believe in my camera, with which I tell the truth.
I like taking photos, but today I am going to tell you about the photos which I didn’t take.
I was supposed to go to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the year for one of my business trips. I was excited throughout the process during my Saudi visa application. I had dreamed thousands of times about getting off the plane and the hot wind blowing towards me. The sunshine, the dessert, the Arabic music and people’s white robes, the cities, the traffic, the Arabic businessmen, are combined together. Soon after I realized that had become my own A Thousand and One Nights! I checked my camera, lens, batteries and memory cards all the time. I was always worried about if the lens was well-cleaned, worried about how to protect them from sands, and worried about if the batteries and memories were enough to take the photos I wanted. What if I am being considered as a rude foreigner when I take photos of the Saudi women on the street? What if my boss would think I am taking too many photos instead of working hard? What if…?
These worry and preparation soon ended up in a rejection of my visa. It wasn’t called a real rejection because I had seen my visa approved but a temporary status of preventing foreigners from getting into the country kept me out of the door.
Oh, my Saudi, Oh, my dream.
After a few months I quit my job and came to America to study. But I do not think that was the end of my pursuit of that mysterious kingdom. Nevertheless, I am so sure that I am going to go back to Saudi Arabia as I had been there a thousand of times. There would be always at least one chance for me to go there and other wonderful countries and taking amazing photos of their beauties. Although I am not Muslim, I have my own Mecca now, places I am going to keep searching and finally kneel in front of them to show my belief in my own religion with my camera.
My elder female cousin passed away in June. She was 3 years older than me. She fell down from a motorcycle in a traffic accident and during that time I was together with my friends and we were talking about cameras and photography. When I had received my mom’s call, I hurried to the hospital. I saw all the families gathering in the ward quietly. I saw my cousin lying on the bed and could never talk. I saw a busy picture of the city outside the window and I heard people whisper and weep.
Before I stepped out of my friend’s place, I left the camera in his home. I could never raise my hand and press the shutter to record that moment although I have taken photos of other people’s misfortune and their sorrow several times. But still the body, the relative’s breaking-heart and the happy times we had in our childhood are just like photos relentlessly going throughout my mind. Then I realized I never had chance to take pictures of her.
I observe people’s lives through my camera, record their happiness and sadness. But I can’t always be the photographer. When I sometimes think of these photos which I did not take, I realize that I didn’t take them because I am in those pictures, which are relevant to my dreams, my experiences, my happiness or my families and friends. It is exactly my own stories and exactly my own life. They are the most important pictures that I have not taken with my camera but with my mind.
I believe in my eyes, I believe in my camera, and I believe in the pictures I did not take.