Haitham Almaan, a 38-year-old Kuwaiti-born creative director and photographer now living in Bali, shared his day with The Bali Times.
I think the curtains of the island have not yet been opened.
I wake up early, usually around 5am, because my son, who is very young, often wants to take a walk on the beach. I get back home at 8am, turn my computer on and process pictures, which means editing, fixing light and enhancing.
I have to stop working after about an hour, because when I’m working I disconnect from everything else and become sort of a zombie. I have to step away from the computer often and do it bit by bit.
Later in the day I work on clients’ projects: they can be advertising, fashion photos or wedding pictures. I think there are three kinds of photographers in the world; the first are the “happy snappers,” who are amateurs; the second are “the middle,” which means photography is nothing more than their occupation; and the last ones are the “full-on” ones. I consider myself as a part of the “full-on” because photography is my life, not my work. For me, taking pictures is rewarding; it makes me forget time and I am in a land of my own. So when it happens it’s quite dangerous. It’s a kind of obsession, something excessive. Some people drink to forget; I frame to forget.
I work with clients for about two2 hours, helping them with their marketing projects, advertising issues and art directions. My job needs creativity, but also a lot of organization. I always feel you can learn how to organize yourself, but creativity is a gift, not something you can pretend to have. I consider myself a marketing and branding problem-solver, but I don’t claim to know everything. I still have a lot to learn.
Some people ask me why I moved to Bali; they are surprised because they don’t think there are a lot of opportunities here for someone in my line of work. But Bali has a lot to offer. I feel I’m always learning here, and I think the curtains of the island have not yet been opened.
Usually if I have been working with clients on marketing issues during the day, I don’t make an appointment for a shoot. But if I don’t work in the morning, I may be shooting in the afternoon.
Shooting is not only taking pictures. It means defining the philosophy of the brand, creating a team and looking for talent and models. When we have all those elements, we go for a “reccie,” which means going out scouting for interesting locations to take pictures. It can be anything: huts in a ricefield, alleyways in a big city or a house in the desert. Deserts are my favorite because they are perfectly clean, and also because they are the landscape of my childhood, as I was born in Kuwait.
When I look for locations, I usually go with my son or a stylist, because stylists can really see the places and they are great to bounce ideas off. I also work a lot with my wife. She is my makeup artist and stylist, and she has a really sharp eye.
When everything is ready, we shoot, and shoots are usually crazy. You have to make sure everything fits, make sure the model is okay; you have to be super-organized, or you will pay for you messiness in the end result. Even with the best organization, no day goes smoothly, but every day ends up being happy. A shooting day is always a true experience, which is funny, because you never realize all the work it involves when you look at pictures.
After the shoot I attend to my other wife, my camera. I make sure I clean it for about 45 minutes and check all the equipment to make sure it is dust-free. I like it when things are clean, clear and in order.
After cleaning I prepare dinner for my family or help out around the house. I attend to the children, and come back to family life for a few hours until kids are in bed.
My wife and I usually sit down, have tea and discuss how things went, and sometimes go to bed, but most nights I stay up on the computer. I always find things to do.
I used to go to bed around 12 or 1am, but in Bali I have enough time to get things done during the day, so I can go to bed earlier and take more time to have a real family life without being stressed all the time. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why, when my day is over, I realize how good it is to be alive. My energy is all in the future, but I live for today.Filed under: One Day