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Empowerment through images

Lahore gets its first stand-alone school of photography that is looking at serious students of the art

Empowerment through images
Outdoor shoot lessons. — Photo: LSP

Expertise is precisely what the Lahore School of Photography (LSP) intends to impart to people passionate about the art.

Established in 2011 and located in Shadman, Lahore, the school is the brainchild of fashion designer cum photographer Yahsir Saeed. It was after the launch of his Creative Agency, Black Box Concepts, in 2003 that Saeed ventured into the field of professional photography. His success at working behind the camera made him realise that a little experimentation, coupled with basic know-how, is all it takes to make a good photographer. His desire to help amateur photographers sharpen their photography skills led him to found Lahore’s first institute dedicated solely to photography.

Housed in an unassuming building, the LSP is still in its nascent stage. The walls surrounding the information desk are lined with photographs taken by the academy’s alumni and immediately affirm the LSP website’s claim to help novice photographers become pros ‘in a matter of weeks’.

Offering month-long courses, held every Saturday and Sunday, on photography and Adobe Photoshop, the school intends to teach the basics of photography theory besides providing guidance for its practical application. That is a tall order for any art-centred institute to fulfill in the short span of eight classes.

But the length of the courses has intentionally been kept brief by Saeed. His aim is to distill all the expertise he has gleaned from his years in the fashion industry and impart the knowledge to people who cannot dedicate a big chunk of time to learning photography.

To get a better understanding of how fashion campaigns come about, the students are taken to off-location commercial photo shoots being covered by LSP’s parent company, Black Box Concepts.

Having discovered the LSP mainly through its well-maintained website, the students enrolled at the LSP are a varied bunch. There are the young men attracted by the glamour of the fashion and entertainment industry and the shot at instant fame and fortune it offers; the amateur photographer passionate about capturing the best of nature; the ambitious entrepreneur hoping to cut advertising costs; the fresh graduate with time on her hands; and the DSLR-owner who doesn’t really know how to operate his/her new camera.

Even though the LSP is a small set-up, it has the resources to provide a variety of practice environments for budding photographers.

According to the Information manager, every batch is taken to parks in the surrounding areas to practise outdoor photography. To get a better understanding of how fashion campaigns come about, the students are taken to off-location commercial photo shoots being covered by LSP’s parent company, Black Box Concepts.

There is a small in-house studio as well where the instructors demonstrate how to work in a studio environment. Providing such a wide range of practical instruction in an institute is no mean feat. However, every student questioned about the standard of instruction was full of praise. Sana, a Master’s student, said she was surprised at the amount of knowledge she had gained about photography and image editing in such a short time. Another student, Usman, was so impressed by the method of teaching that he said he travels every week from Sialkot to Lahore just to attend the next course. But like with everything, there is a small cost to pay.

The tuition fee for each course is a bit high considering it is a not-yet established school which is also not affiliated with any arts college. But, as Saeed says, the fee ensures that the school only attracts the serious students interested in learning all the techniques required to translate his vision into images.

Asked if there is enough space for so many photographers out there, he replied in the affirmative: “Space is always there; it just depends upon how savvy the person is in carving a niche for himself.”

Saeed is of the opinion that “people need options so there will always be a demand for more photographers.”

The LSP seems to be serious about implementing its slogan of empowerment through photography. Students desirous of getting further hands-on experience are welcomed to intern with Black Box Concepts’ team of photographers and graphic designers.

Going a step further to aid talented individuals in taking up photography as a career, the company has hired a student from each batch of the school.

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