35mm Fun: Saleem Ahmed

Fin Murphy
Image Courtesy of Saleem Ahmed

Today we meet U.S. photographer Saleem Ahmed. When not teaching at Philadelphia’s Temple University, Saleem pursues photography in a variety of formats but began shooting in 35mm when travelling the world as a child. This wanderlust hasn’t left him; the shots he’s presenting here depict Bolivia from the last couple of weeks. Saleem gives us an impression of not only bucolic calm—animals at rest against the backdrop of mountains—but also the everyday moments of urban living, whether passing a van in repair or riding the bus. However, his palette of sun-faded and light drenched colours make for an engaging shot. We got in touch with him to discuss his early shooting, variety of cameras and if there’s an easy answer to if there's ‘perfect shot’.

Image Courtesy of Saleem Ahmed

Where are you from, where are you based and what do you do outside of photography?
I was born in Detroit, but I grew up in Brookfield, Connecticut. I currently live in Philadelphia where I teach as an adjunct professor at Temple University. 

How do you think your style is affected by shooting internationally?
My interest in photography is strongly tied to travelling internationally during my childhood. My family and I would travel somewhere almost every year, and I remember anxiously waiting for the 35mm rolls to get developed after we returned. I studied photojournalism in college and continued to travel as often as I could, which led to a documentarian approach to photographing my surroundings.


Image Courtesy of Saleem Ahmed

What do you shoot on?
I have used all sorts of cameras: digital, film, 35mm, medium format, and large format. My first 35mm camera was an Olympus OM-10 that my dad gave me. In all honesty, it was an awful camera, but I did learn a lot from it. Since then I have used a handful of Nikons, Canons, Olympus’, and other brands. Currently my 35mm camera of choice is a Canon Snappy LXii. It is so simple, but also has a giant viewfinder, which I love. I got it for free and fell in love with it during my most recent trip to Bolivia. 

Over what span of time were these photos taken? What make them stand out from your other shots?
These photos that I selected were from my Snappy LXii during my three weeks in Bolivia from June 24 until July 16. I chose these images because they are fresh and also reflect my current style when it comes to 35mm. This Snappy LXii allows me to shoot much quicker than my fully manual medium format camera, which is a nice change of pace for me. 


Image Courtesy of Saleem Ahmed
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    How do you think your work is affected by sharing it online?
    I have always wrestled with the idea of sharing my work online. On one hand, I don’t want to just dump images, but on the other hand, I don’t want my images to hide on my hard drive forever. Tumblr has been a great outlet for me, as it is a simple and fast way to share my work. Sharing online has allowed me to connect with many different publishers and photographers, which in turn helps me develop a network to help promote my own projects. 

    What, if any, would you consider to be the perfect shot?
    That is a very difficult question to answer, and I don’t think I have an answer. 

    Lastly, anyone you’d like to shout out?
    My shout out goes to my friend Chris.


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