Javeed Shah, In Unison with God

 
A Kashmiri Muslim raises his arms as he looks at the relic of Prophet Mohammad at the Hazratbal shrine. Photograph/Javeed Shah

A Kashmiri Muslim raises his arms as he looks at the relic of Prophet Mohammad at the Hazratbal shrine. Photograph/Javeed Shah

"When you get behind the lens, stories begin taking shape."— Javeed Shah

“When you get behind the lens, stories begin taking shape.”— Javeed Shah

Javeed Shah documents the bond between man and God in the valley, where living another day is the matter of most uncertainty.

This story was originally published in May 2009.

Everything starts with the hunt for a good picture. But when you get behind the lens, stories begin taking shape. I shot this series during the annual ‘urs’ for the Prophet’s birthday, when thousands of Kashmiri Muslims gather at the Hazratbal Dargah in Srinagar, Kashmir. It houses a relic that is believed to be a strand of hair from the Prophet Mohammed’s beard.

During the troubled times that the valley has seen, it has been the faith in God that has kept the war torn Kashmiris going. As life becomes more difficult and the very existence of man becomes uncertain, the bond between man and God seems to grow stronger. And that is the essence of these pictures—the relation between hope and harmony and the union between man and God.

A woman touches the brass holy chain at the Sufi shrine Shah-ehamadan in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

A woman touches the brass holy chain at the Sufi shrine Shah-ehamadan in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

When Shooting Large Gatherings

  • Shoot many pictures—you will begin to see what works and what does not. Then shoot the same scene differently
  • Do not repeat a composition or an idea too often.
  • The camera sees differently from the human eye and sometimes it can capture a scene more beautifully. So, first compose the photographs in your mind and then use the camera.
  • When you begin selecting images, choose ones that were a real test of your creativity and style. They should have soul, substance, and depth.
  • Understand your subject and the environment
Devotees offer Friday prayers at the Sufi shrine Shah-e-hamadan in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

Devotees offer Friday prayers at the Sufi shrine Shah-e-hamadan in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

A Kashmiri Muslim woman offering Eid Nimaz (special prayers) inside the Jamia Mosque in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

A Kashmiri Muslim woman offering Eid Nimaz (special prayers) inside the Jamia Mosque in Srinagar. Photograph/ Javeed Shah

About Javeed Shah
Kashmir-based Javeed  has been freelancing with various national and international publications and has been doing photography since the last 20 years. His work has been features in noteworthy publications such as Time Asia, the Guardian Weekend and The Wall Street Journal.

Thousands of devotees gather at the Hazratbal Shrine. Photograph/Javeed Shah

Thousands of devotees gather at the Hazratbal Shrine. Photograph/Javeed Shah

Tags: Conflict zone, Hazratbal Dargah, Javeed Shah, Kashmir, May 2009, Photo feature, photojournalist, Prophet Mohammed, Srinagar, Urs