Ahmed Najm is a big name in international photography. Ahmed is the name behind the Humans of Kurdistan photo series, is one of the founders of the community-focused Vim foundation, and occupies a managing director’s role in the Metrography Agency – the first-ever photography agency in Iraq. If there was ever a photographer that knows good business sense, it was him.
We tracked down the elusive photographer while he was in town being interviewed by World Press Photo, where he will be featured throughout 2021. We had only one question on our minds… How? How do you go from growing up in regime Iraq without any former artistic schooling to being one of the most internationally successful photojournalists from your region of the world?
In the spirit of continuing a long line of photographers by inspiring others to follow in his footsteps, Ahmed had the following things to say… Take heed and learn from the master if you want to get somewhere with a photography career.
Top Business Tips for the Aspiring Photographer
If you are trying to start or maintain a photography business, Ahmed Najm has these three important things to tell you.
1. Choose your Path.
There are many different types of photography. Choosing which type you are most comfortable with gives a clear purpose to your work. Ahmed had the opportunity to photograph conflicts and action because of where he grew up in the world. However, if you grow up in San Francisco, you are unlikely to be able to photograph wars in your younger years. Sticking to urban photography would be a far more sensible choice.
2. Never give up.
We may hear this advice so often that we have forgotten what it means – but the premise still stands. If you want to run your own photography business, you have to do it, not just talk about doing it. Set it up and run it in the background while you work a day job doing whatever it takes to pay the bills.
If you don’t’ give up, you will be a professional photographer one day, and you will look back on those days as your formative years.
3. Inspire Others!
No matter what path you take in photography and photojournalism, it is your moral responsibility to pave the way for those that come after. Ahmed believes that it is the youth that holds the key to our futures. We have to make photography an easier-to-access career opportunity for them. Through education and inspiration, we can create a platform for those that come after us.
Growing up in Iraq, Ahmed Najm didn’t have the opportunities in education that we have nowadays. He has made it a purpose of his life to providing this education, to help those that follow in his footsteps. The purpose of our lives is to progress society, as much as it is to feed and clothe ourselves.
On this note, we will leave you with his words of encouragement.
“What we need… is to support the youth that is eager to start their small businesses and find new ways for economic growth.”
Only through inspiration and education can we continue to see those that come after us thrive.