Danial Shah and His Quest of Discovering Pakistan

Pakistan is a country of immense beauty and diversity of all forms at all levels. But we Pakistanis are not very knowledgeable, because it is not highlighted as it should be. However one patriotic individual wanted to find out, and so he set out on his mission with a camera in hand and initially headed towards the North of Pakistan.

Danial Shah: A Passion for Travelling

Daniel Shah is a freelance documentary and travel photographer, who has been sharing the wonderful stories about Pakistan through his lens as well as through his words. He has been successful in not only projecting a positive image of the country but has also given our own people an opportunity to be proud of what belongs to us.

In 2010, he developed www.iexplorepakistan.com, Pakistan’s first travel blog which showcases photographs of people, their everyday lives and stories from all over the country, to give us and the rest of the world a glimpse into the many different cultures that exist here. He wanted to remove the misconceptions we ourselves and other people have about us due to what the media is reflecting.

He has also ventured out of Pakistan and visited Sweden, Italy, France, Thailand, Denmark, UAE, USA, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Nepal until now.

Publications of Danial Shah

Since 2012 his work is being published in Dawn, The Express Tribune, The News, Newsline Magazine, Herald, Trek & Mountain Magazine, UK; Himal SouthAsian, Nepal; Global Times, China and The New York Times.

His Stories

These include some fascinating stories about the historical and natural heritage that we own. For instance he writes about ‘Manshera Municipal Library’ which was actually a Sikh Gudwara, and houses some 10,000 books. Or about the floating village i.e. Manchar Lake’, one of our largest freshwater lakes, where fishermen having been living on wooden boathouses for many hundred years. Or his exploration of the ‘Khojak Tunnel’, which had great significance in the political history of the subcontinent. This tunnel was shown on our 5 rupees currency note (that was in circulation from 1976-2005).

You can read all his articles here: http://www.danialshah.com/p/publications

TEDx Talks

He has done two TEDx Talks, one organized by NUST in December 2011, entitled ‘Pakistan through my lens’. The second one was organized by SZABIST in February 2017 called ‘Missing Narratives: Re-imagining Pakistan from a Photographer’s lens’.

He also did a feature for this year’s Pakistan Day entitled ‘The Many Faces of Life in Pakistan’ where he showcases 9 very unique photographs which he has taken over the past nine years and a brief description about each. For example, the Umerkot District in Sindh, is home to many villages whose main means of earning is harvesting chilies. Two varieties are grown, and the one shown in the picture is the stem-less longi dandi kat. The chilies are kept in the sun to dry for 4-5 days, and then sold whole or crushed. Pakistan’s Mirch Mandi is the biggest of the continent, with buyers from all over Asia. A woman spreading out chilies for drying is shown here:

                   chili

You can read the complete feature here: http://ideas.ted.com/gallery-the-many-faces-of-life-in-pakistan/

Awards Received by Danial Shah

He received third prize in photography at the Sindh Youth Festival in 2009, and the first prize in photography at the Festival’s 2010 edition. Then he was awarded Travel Blogger of the Year in 2011 by Pakistan Blog Awards. He also won the Nishan-e-Azm (Symbol of Resolve) Award in the same year (Azme Alishan is a social movement that was launched in 2010, supported by some of our leading media groups. And this award was given to those Pakistani individuals who have made great efforts of promoting Pakistan in and around the world).

Emerging Leader 2014

He was also among the 15 leaders selected for the Emerging Leaders Pakistan Fellowship Program in 2014. (These are youngsters who are committed towards solving many of the problems faced by the people of Pakistan at the moment). He visited Detroit, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

Young Connector of the Future 2015

He was selected for the Young Connector of the Future program 2015-16. This is a four week intercultural leadership program in which around 25 youngsters from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and India can participate. It has been initiated by the Swedish Institute, Stockholm which aims at equipping young leaders with skill sets and methods that could help them bring about a greater social change.

Exhibitions of Danial Shah

His photographs have also made their way to exhibitions in Pakistan, Turkey and the USA:

  • In 2008, group photography exhibit entitled Other Side of Pakistan’ at the 37th Annual Conference on South Asia, held in USA.
  • In 2009, group photography exhibit entitled The Myriad Dimensions of Pakistan’ at T2F Gallery, Karachi.
  • In 2010, group photography exhibit entitled ‘Photo Travelogue of Pakistan Exhibition’ at Expo Center, Karachi.
  • In 2015, ‘The Other Side’ at T2F Gallery, Karachi.
  • In 2016, ‘Social and Traditional life of Pakistan’ at the Islamic countries’ Photographers meeting in Turkey.

Education & Teaching Experiences of Danial Shah

He has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Advertising and Branding and a Master’s degree in Media Management, both from IoBM, Karachi. He also has certificate in Documentary Film from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Since May 2014 he has been teaching ‘photography and photojournalism’ courses at the Institute of Business Management, Karachi. And since August 2015 he has been teaching basic and advanced photography courses at the University of Karachi. He has also conducted a number of workshops. Furthermore he teaches on a voluntary basis in underprivileged communities in Karachi as well as other parts of Pakistan, instructing people how to use the camera and the importance of documenting everyday events or those of significance.

He is also part of a project initiated by a consortium of Karachi called ‘Badal Do’. The objective is to train primary school teachers from nearly 100 schools in photography skills, and his job is to teach them how to create travelogues, and to become more conscious of their surroundings.

Recent and Upcoming Works by Danial Shah

He completed a road trip of over 1200 km, along the Indus River from Karachi to Peshawar, and wrote a very interesting and unique account entitled ‘A people’s history of Pakistan’ which has been published in the March issue of The Herald magazine.

His next piece would be based on his experiences of trekking on the Mount Everest. He is also working on a documentary which will feature stories of separated families due to the border between Pakistan and India; this will be completed in the next six to eight months.

Perceptions can be Changed!!

Pakistan is our beloved country, so it would be very motivating to see more individuals brimming with the same enthusiasm as Danial Shah and work to change perceptions about it. You can follow him on www.instagram.com/danialshah_

He gives the following message on the occasion of Pakistan’s 70th Independence today:

I have seen a lot of this country and yet so little. The diversity of this country that i have explored and photographed is what i want people to accept and celebrate. I dream of a day when people would become more tolerant towards each other and celebrate diversity as a citizen of Pakistan. When all languages, religion and ethnicities are respected. I dream of a day when comfort is not for the one who can afford, but for all who are part of this country

Comments

comments

Hajra Saeed

Hajra Saeed has been writing for the past 20 years. During her career she has contributed to various leading newspapers and magazines, but currently writes for the special supplements of ‘The Nation’. She has written on a wide array of topics; however areas of interest are social issues, religion, philosophy and presenting a positive image of Pakistan. Has experience in copy writing, content writing, technical writing, screenwriting and teaching. Likes to read, do online courses as well as social work.