It doesn’t take one a long time to realize the young woman, holding her camera and getting busy searching for good angles, is a talented one. Born in 1983, Mais Shourbaji is one of Syria’s self-taught photographers; ready to snap a picture with great ingenuity and passion as long as she is in love with the experience.
Her regular office working hours – as executive assistant in a multi-national company – take up most of her day, but after 5pm every evening she is ready to change into casual dress and join her friends at concerts, Jazz festivals and the theatre. That’s where she fulfills her heart’s passion and spends many evenings taking snapshots of Syria’s buzzing cultural life.
Mais is popular, very active and has a lot to say about women in her country. She advocates freedom and adventure, two aspects that define her photography. Recently, she has taken part in a documentary to be released in the near future about the changing face of the Syrian society, the contradictions young women of today are facing, and the ambitions someone like Mais has.
I met Mais last year, on one of
Music Matbakh‘s stops in the region. She was the photographer assigned to take photos of us while we performed at Qasr el Azem. I had the pleasure of meeting Mais again when I relocated into Damascus and joined Forward Magazine as its associate editor-in-chief.
The young woman with a lot of zest believes “success is to love what you do, to persist and never give up no matter what obstacles you face, and to keep on developing your skills in order to excel.”
That’s indeed an indication of a very driven person. But where did Mais get her inspirations from?
“My father is one of the most influential people in my life; he’s an artist, a cultivated and quiet man. He’s my friend… he hears me out and supports me in everything I do, at the same time he is a harsh critic who wants to see me stand out. My dad has a great role in shaping my personality; he helped me liberate myself from one-track mindedness and taught me to look at life from different angles with open mindedness.”
Mais photos on Flickr can be found here.
Writer: Ruba Saqr (associate editor-in-chief, Forward Magazine. Damascus, Syria)