Ismail Sirdah is a Miami-based photographer who owns his own studio that specializes in wedding, travel, as well as retail photography. Unlike most businessmen, he started his endeavor at the age of 20 and worked his way up to become one of the most prominent experts in this market. Having started with nothing more than an SLR camera, Ismail Sirdah had to improvise angles, lighting, effects, and countless other aspects of photography to make his work stand out. Given the success that he was able to achieve, he recently diversified his entrepreneurial career and opened a school of photography for younger people.
What is your hobby?
As you can probably imagine, photography. I always traveled armed with at least one of my smaller cameras as the professional ones can be bulky and impractical to carry on-the-go. Thus, regardless of what I might be doing, I will always make a quick stop to capture a photo that I believe can be astonishing. So, photography could be classified as my job and my hobby.
How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?
Years ago, one of my friends was given a high-end camera as a gift. Although they liked it a lot, I became amazed by everything that this device could do and the type of photos that I was able to take were amazing. Although it took me a while to understand that it was not just the camera doing the work by itself, it only took a few weeks for me to realize that this might be something I could do for the rest of my life!
Tell us what you love about it.
The never-ending list of perspectives that something can be captured from. Think of it this way, if I capture a black and white photo of a landscape, it immediately implies an oldish and somewhat sadder nature. If I do it with a full brightness and intensified colors, on the other hand, it becomes an inviting scenery that is very different from the previous one. Not to even mention everything that you can do once you start playing with the angles and effects.
Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?
Most of the events that I attend are related to the school of photography that I recently established. I used to be a member of many organizations related to this industry but, as I got more involved with my projects, I had to prioritize things.
Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.
I bought quite a few different cameras. As with every photographer, those tend to be the main source of unexpected expenses. Also, since I have my own studio, I had to invest in the actual rental space that needed to be equipped with some furniture and decorative tools.
Where do you buy most of your supplies?
It just depends. A lot of the things that I buy are straight from the internet. That enables me to save time by not having to pick any of the items in person. Sometimes, however, I enjoy spending some time browsing the things that I want to purchase. Thus, seeing me at a store like Best Buy would not be surprising!
Are there any good books for beginners?
There are quite a few that people can use. I never used many books as most of the things that I know were self-taught. Nonetheless, those interested should look into “Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera” by Bryan Peterson as well as “The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos” by Michael Freeman. Of course, there are many other books that might work better depending on the specific type of photos that you might be trying to take.
How has this changed your life?
The biggest impact it had is in the way that I look at the world. Nowadays, everything that I come in contact with is analyzed. I seek subtle signs that something could make a beautiful photo. Although this can be quite distracting at times, it helps me see things in a positive ways.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
Do not be afraid to experiment. If you are planning on becoming a world-renowned photographer, taking ordinary photos will not get you there. You need to learn what types of photos are easy for you to take, what do people react to positively, as well as what type of surroundings you enjoy. For example, if you are a natural talent at wedding photography, it would make no sense to spend time doing nothing but nature shots. Similarly, if you enjoy taking one type of photos yet people around you do not express much interest in them, you may need to question your work. Although you could be doing everything right, the fact that your work might be “ordinary” is very detrimental to your career. Thus, be creative and try new things!
Are there any other hobbies you have?
I do have other hobbies that come alongside my photography. For instance, since I have a business to run, one of my hobbies is reading entrepreneurship-related books from professionals who built their organizations from