Apr 28, 2014

At Last, the Website.

www.natheerhalawani.com
I never would have imagined the day I called the owners of Al Baba Sweets offering them a free photosession a couple years ago that, one day coming really soon, I would be congratulated by friends and family for my own website, the website that held my name. I ask myself sometimes where is this path taking me to, what am I doing here. I am fully aware this is my sense of insecurity due to the absence of somebody to drag me and guide me somewhere – as it’s always been – that is talking at the moment. I wholeheartedly listened to my close friends’ advice and rode the wave, and boy I must say it took me somewhere unbelievable.

I’m officially a photographer now, I built a career identity that is available for the public and I can simply throw in my website to anybody wanting to see my work. I used to prepare collages and work for hours picking my photos and eliminating others, only to be able to send a sample or two of my work to a potential client. The website is there now to represent me digitally, to be the complement of all my social media accounts to finally crown them all with a mother venue that tells it all.



It all started a while ago, when people wanting to work with me would ask to see the shots I used to take, my answer would be intuitively to check my facebook account. Cheesy as it sounds, these people actually went there and I would get those freaky friend requests every now and then ever since. Some highlights of that would be that day I was selling my mom’s old polaroid camera to a total stranger photographer on Charles El Helou bus station where she mentioned having a Facebook page and the need for every good photographer to own/run one. Giving her my then-usual answer of “no, it’s still too early”, she used an angry tone to push me into creating something that would give me identity overall and show my work. Another highlight would be that famous facebook post several months ago, where I dared to ask my facebook friends to pick for me. Seemed eventually that a website and a facebook page were both welcome, as soon as possible, with a huge amount of cheering and encouragement.

The website cost me around 25$ to launch and almost 4 rough months to finally settle down on a platform to build my site on, pick my winning shots, prepare the texts, the logo, the covers, the concept, etc.. It was one darn huge errand and it wouldn’t have happened without the last-minute intervention of my dear old Najd, my graphic-design-specialist brother. It was him who created the facebook cover and helped me shape up the visuals of the site. It’s crucial to mention at the same time that my welcome page photo was taken right in front of my bathroom door by my flatmate Jaakko, I literally had to crop out the black holes stuck on the white paint right there.


Here we go peeps, a little tour around the website:
  1. Landing page: it’s the page you see right after clicking “work”. The page has no specific theme, in fact it’s a collection of the shots that were the most famous on social media, including the famous shot of SahawHana iftar, Father Sarouj of Al Saeh library, etc..
  2. Portfolio: that’s nothing but a label, where if clicked would drop down a menu with access to the four basic categories for the moment. Other categories will be added with time.
    1. On Stage: concerts and artists taking the stage. Featuring names such as Nightwish, Mashrou Leila, Ahmad Qaabour, Scorpions, Lana Del Ray, Cirque De Soleil, Wanton Bishops, Majida Roumi, Magic Malik, Mazen El Sayed, Mike Massy, etc..
    2. Gourmet: Another name for food photography, most of the shots were taken at private celebrations and during shoots for clients. List includes Al Baba Sweets, L’Hote Libanais, etc..
    3. Soulful Portraits: I remember one of my photographer friends pointing out the unnecessity of describing my portraits with Soulful, this is – she said – to be decided by my viewers. Portraits and faces are the main reason I got into photography. Growing up, and probably till this moment now, I always had this urge to look at people’s faces with them noticing it. This is exactly how I work now, especially when a group of people is involved “please ignore me” I say. Portraits speak, and that’s what I love about them.
    4. Photojournalism: I don’t consider myself a photojournalist, it’s just the fact that I had the chance to be in several occasions where security was an issue, a protest was rising up or a news was being made. The fact that I got used to publishing my pictures in a flash put me on the journalism track really fast, without even noticing it. As a result, many of my shots were used in national and international newspapers, especially when the Al Saeh Library was burnt down and when the Salam and Taqwa car bomb incident took place, all with the help of dear friends and journalists such as none else but my friend Souhaib Ayoub, who gave me a huge push in that matter.
  3. Extras: Everything that is not photography and pictures all over.
    1. Tear Sheets: source of my pride. As the title says, it’s tear sheets and screenshots of some/most of the websites and papers that published my photos. Featuring CNN, Annahar, Assafir, Montreal Gazette, MTV Iggy, The Huffington Post, etc..
    2. Blog – The Dusty Wyndow: a simple link to my mighty old blog, the Dusty Wyndow :)
  4. Info:
    1. About: a little bio about me. I so believe this is going to reshape a lot before being complete.
    2. Contact: Throwing in a quote here and there has become a habit of mine: “One day, there will be happiness and there will be sunshine.” Your messages will be more than welcome :)
  5. Share:
    1. Social Media Buttons: Each and every button is connected to my account at each service respectively. These buttons are not for sharing the website, they're only for checking my social media accounts.
    2. Share: the key to sharing the website :)
The website has huge plans for the future and will host many other categories and extraordinary sections as promised on my home page. It is quite important also to write about the amount of support I got from friends and distant ones too, it was as if it were their own work and their newborn baby. I saw everybody congratulating me for the website at least, some were thoughtful enough to get a bit more into details and suggested a couple fixes, a handful more were courteous enough to point out a grammar mistake here or there. Blah! The energy was, and still is fantastic.

It triggers me the fact that I have to still be looking for an *engineering* job, to have interviews and to manage my way into getting a job offer. The website has done a great effort ever since its launch, getting in only two days half the views this blog has accumulated over last year, and my blog has some decent exposure. I must say I'm humbled by these people's heed to help me lift that website to a higher level by fetching out grammatical mistakes to fix and giving in their opinion of what could be altered in the design: Maja, Jost, Nina, Muslema, Souha, Mutaz, Foutoun, Fatima, Krystelle, Patrick, Rana, Randa, Mahmoud and pretty much everybody who threw in a word of advice.


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