In today's age of social media, people can whizz through lives lived by others by the touch of a hashtag. So, a physical exhibition of photographs that document one man's journey through Pakistan may not fascinate people as it may have in the past. But documentary photographer Danial Shah's exhibition 'The Other Side', which concludes at Karachi's T2F today, proves why exhibitions are worth the visit.

Danial's first solo exhibition, 'The Other Side' more than just served as a reminder of the country's scenic beauty. His emphasis was on sharing the stories of the people he met in his journey. At the opening, Danial narrated his experiences as a photographer who loves landforms, especially dangerous mountains.

Danial Shah narrates his experiences as a travel photographer. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada
Danial Shah narrates his experiences as a travel photographer. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada

Trekking though glaciers or stepping into chilly streams is not always rainbows and sunshine, Danial told the visitors. He recounted the time he had to sleep on hard rock to capture the mighty peaks – which was not the most comfortable night.

A visitor looks at Danial's work. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada
A visitor looks at Danial's work. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada

Danial's photography is dinstinguished by the presence of humans in every single frame. From the Deosai plains to the gigantic K2, a human figure or a group of individuals was present, perhaps to connote the relationship between man and nature.

A minuscule figure of a man can be seen in this photo of a mighty Karakoram. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada
A minuscule figure of a man can be seen in this photo of a mighty Karakoram. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada

"Without people, there would be a space. Human interaction defines the aspect of behaviour in different places. For instance in the city, we have to stop at traffic signals and we are constantly tense, this varies with the areas in accordance with the demographics," says Danial.

Speaking about his inspiration, he shared that although he studied business, his passion for travel and nature photography eventually got the better of him. Reading magazines like National Geographic in his youth, Danial often wondered about those who stepped out of their comfort zones.

"I also felt that I am very uneducated because there is so much to discover in this world and this urge to know more drives me."

Trekking installation

Visitors weren't only looking at his photos; some huddled around an installation that portrayed Chilinji Glacier in Gilgit-Baltistan as trekkers went through it. Divided into two paths with one leading to glacier and other leading to a treacherous mountain, the journey amounted to four hours for the former and 10 hours for the latter one. Danial chose the second one, owing to his love for mountains and took the photo atop.

Attendees look at the floor installation of Danial's photo. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada
Attendees look at the floor installation of Danial's photo. — Photo by Ibtisam Khanzada

Marvi Mazhar of T2F explained why that particular picture chosen: "Since the picture was taken from a height and the human scale is defined by its color juxtoposition with the majestic glaciers and terrain. I thought it will be interesting to lay a large scale of print on the floor and let people walk and feel a presence of art work in another dimension. So from his work emerged an installation. Last night we noticed, either people were walking without noticing, some were bending and pointing at details, some were lying and observing. It was fun to watch the reaction and relation to Danial's lens."

Will this exhibition help parents, who worry about safety, come to terms with their children's wanderlust? Danial had a perfect response for this: "I have been mugged thrice in my life and it happened to be in Karachi," he quipped.

The exhibition goes on for two weeks at T2F. It is open for viewing from 12pm to 10pm.

Email