Game Changers

Exclusive: Ishaq Madan provides a cinematic view of the Gulf region

Ishaq Madan's photography challenges our perspectives.

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By Manar Al Hinai

The small island country of Bahrain is bursting with young talents. Ishaq Madan is one of those talents; he is an emerging photographer and content creator. The 27-year-old’s affiliation with cameras goes back a long time, ever since the early 2000s, when he served as his family’s designated photographer on their trips abroad, and dabbled with point and shoot film cameras.

Though he only took photography seriously a mere 6 to 7 years ago when mobile photography picked up, he soon created his signature style. Ishaq’s photos provide a cinematic view of the Gulf Region. His photos seem like shots taken right out of a movie. Ishaq has photographed numerous well-known local and regional personalities, and Sekka has had the privilege to work with him on multiple occassions over the past two years.

Ishaq has participated in local and regional exhibitions such as the Fine Arts Biennial in Paris, ArtBAB in Bahrain, and Vantage Point Sharjah, and is now spending his time in isolation working on his first photo book and on launching his website.

Photos taken across Bahrain by Ishaq Madan. Images: Courtesy. Click on each image to enlarge it.

We speak to the young photographer about his journey and what he would like to achieve with his photography. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera  just the way you want it to appear?

Ishaq Madan: I usually envision a frame or have a narrative in mind. I aim to create visual stories with single frames, as such picturing them in my mind before they happen sets the tone and mood. It’s a technique called “fishing”, where you compose your frame based on your surroundings and wait for the ideal subject to stroll by. 

“I usually envision a frame or have a narrative in mind.” Featuerd is social media personality Saufeeya Goodson.Image: Courtesy.

Which photographers have influenced you? And how have they inspired you?

Ishaq Madan: Liam Wong, Reuben Wu, Peter Lindbergh, Fan Ho, Monaris, and Mustafa Al Bastaki are photographers who have influenced me throughout my career. They’ve shaped how I visually construct my narratives in frames, and how I see the world also. 

What is the message you would like to get across through your photographs?

Ishaq Madan: I aim to tell visual stories… perhaps short stories. The feelings of every frame may be different, however, the end goal is to have the viewer feel something within themselves, as if they are reading a line of a beautiful poem. Messages across my photos vary according to my mental state, and the environment around me. They change like seasons as the world evolves on a daily basis.

“Messages across my photos vary according to my mental state.” Image: Courtesy.

How has your career path been? And how did you end up to where you are today?

Ishaq Madan: It feels surreal to be where I am today. Alhmdilallah, I am quite content. However, there’s always room to grow. Michael Jordan’s quote “Make it happen” resonates with me the most and there have been countless of times where I have had to break out of my comfort zone to get to where I want to be.

What motivates you to continue taking photos, to present a cinematic view of Bahrain and places in the world, the way that you do?

Ishaq Madan: The best way to describe this feeling is like a child opening a Lego set for the first time. That feeling of curiosity and joy is like a drug that motives me to find new stories to visually capture.

Images taken across the Gulf States by Ishaq Madan. Images: Courtesy. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Your favorite location in Bahrain to take photographs…

Ishaq Madan: Karbabad beach. It’s filled with life and beautiful moments if you look carefully, especially during winter when the sun sets light up the sky like a dragon’s fiery breath. Plus, who doesn’t love the sound of ice cream trucks passing by?!

One of the most eye-opening projects you worked on…

Ishaq Madan: Honestly, I haven’t worked on anything that shifted my thought process dramatically. However, if there is one important thing projects have shown me is that the best thing you can do as a human being on this planet is to inspire people to learn, grow, and get out of their comfort zones.

Ishaq Madan’s photos challenge our perspectives. Featured in this image is Bahraini social media star Omar Farooq. Image: Courtesy.

A location/personality you’d like to photograph?

Ishaq Madan: Arsene Wenger. He is one of the greatest sports personalities out there and the former manager of Arsenal Football Club. He was more than a manager; the humbling stories I’ve read about him, the way he speaks, his mannerism, I could go on. He is simply a unique figure in the history of sports. 

Manar Al Hinai is the Storyteller-in-Chief of Sekka.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.