Sharaf Naghiyeva is a portrait photographer based in Baku, Azerbaijan. The main theme of her photography is the Individual, self-expressed through portrait, fashion or nude photography. With Emin Mathers, she has founded f3.7 – a photographers’ union – to share exciting reviews, online exhibitions and other photography related news. She is working on photography stories for Chaikhana Media platform and has recently participated in International Conceptual Art Festival “Maiden Tower.”
Want to get to know someone well? Take their photograph. Sharaf says her creative energy flows in two directions. It runs towards the model in the viewfinder just to make a u-turn and hit back with the dreams, fears, and aspirations of her subjects. In the same vein, this creative process becomes a confessional of sorts for the photographer as well, bringing forth unintended or unrealized thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. It is a dialogue of an extremely private nature that removes all boundaries. But for Sharaf, it is the best form of communication and discovery.
Sharaf had started with a simple film camera. It was a diversion of sorts. The enticing magical rituals in the darkroom resulted in disarmingly candid images. She has expanded her praxis to a digital sensor since. According to Sharaf, in photography, experience is only secondary to passion and ambition. In the beginning of her journey, she shot on film all day, every day, using her friends and acquaintances as study subjects. The distinct individual signature transpired a little later, once she rediscovered herself in the process. This personal epiphany led her to seek knowledge and mastery in the art of photography. Anything and everything can serve as a teaching material if there is enough resiliency and drive: ebooks, courses, masterclasses and webinars – the possibilities are limitless. What matters is how one consumes the information. Ideally, it should be a gradual process, revolving around one’s needs and potential to absorb the sources, assimilating all into their art and not the other way around.
For Sharaf, portraiture is a dialogue with life. A detail, a gesture, a glimpse is enough to bring about the rest of the vision. There seems to be hardly any breath of life in carefully premeditated and executed shots. Which is why Sharaf chooses to trust providence and her gut feeling in order to capture the right depth and angle in the viewfinder. After all, photography is a way of story-telling; tales of the important, of the forgotten, and of the dreamt.
Written by Halila Bayramova
PhD candidate in English Literature & Digital Humanities