An Interview With Photographer Lina Alrababh

by John Palmer

Lina Alrababh is a Jordanian photographer who’s interested in street photography and is currently on a creative writing M.A course at Northumbria University. 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lina_alrababh/

Man tying his shoes in front of a mural.
Street market stall.

What inspired you to get into photography and how long have you been doing it for?

China was my inspiration, five years ago when I first moved to Beijing, I had the desire of recording everything around me because it all felt different to what I was used to seeing in my country. A year later I bought my first camera. Travelling to different places always triggered something inside of me, a normal street for a local person is a magical view in the eye of a visitor. This idea changed how I see my own country, Jordan, and my home city, Amman.

Do you look for anything in particular when taking photos?

Yes, people. They are the reason behind me holding up the camera and capturing what they do. It’s significant how people in each place I’ve been to have different lifestyles. Also, the mark that humans make on their surroundings; the graffiti on the walls, the musical instruments, what people do when praying, playing, or gathering somewhere. I look for the simple but unique daily life that others might take for granted.

Man walking his dog in China.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started?

The rules of composing a picture, I didn’t know much about that at the beginning and it affected the way my pictures turned out. So, now I look back at some lovely pictures, but the building is cropped, or someone’s feet aren’t in the frame or an essential detail is omitted. Unfortunately, most of these are in places where I, regrettably, may never return.

What makes a great photo stand out from the rest?

There are two aspects to this answer. Where it tells a story or captures a moment. Loving street photography so much makes me focus on people in their everyday lives such as shopping or chatting, giving a pictorial narrative like the lady selling handmade bags in one of the busiest Chinese markets, who was sitting alone with an empty chair next to her, she looked sad and didn’t even look up when I stood right in front of her and took several shots. Then again, some pictures are taken spontaneously, a moment of ‘now or never’ like the tourist who was standing on top of the hill in Amman and capturing its beauty, which incidentally is the one I chose for the title bar to my website. Some are a bit of both, such as the picture of the Town Mouse micropub where the man is talking to the three people seated before he enters. The eye is also drawn to the man in the shop above the pub who’s on the phone, what are their stories? Every time I look at these photos, I feel they bring magic and shine brighter than others.

Woman selling bags at a Chinese street market.

You have an exhibit coming up soon. What can you tell us about it?

It’s a place where I share what the world had to offer to me and make it visible to others too. I called it ‘a step closer’ as it takes the visitor one step closer to the daily life of many places like Jordan or China or even Russia, and not only the famous sites in them. It’s almost like seeing the backstage preparations of a play. I also wanted it to give the visitor a new way of viewing the world and cherishing what it offers every day.

Do you have any advice for other photographers trying to build a portfolio and showcase their work?

A printed picture offers much more than the one on the screen, print your favourite ones as a start. Be brave, do not let fear stop you from sharing your work with the world, have faith in

your pictures as much as you have faith in your hands when taking them. Don’t let people’s opinions make you love or hate any, but always take advice for future photos to constantly improve.

A man stood atop a hill in Amman.

Lina’s exhibition is at Whitley Bay Library, from the 17th to the 29th of January. Opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm, and 9am to 1pm Saturdays.

To find out more about the exhibition, visit her website, here.

Three men talking outside a pub.

To see more of Lina’s photography from around Newcastle, click here.

Exhibition poster.
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