He is interested in history, culture, the environment and social issues. His work has been published in National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Afar, Monocle, as well as SilverKris, among other publications.
What does the photograph capture?
Lut Desert in Iran. It is the hottest place on earth during summertime.
What do you love about this particular image?
It’s so much more than just a shot of a destination or place. It reflects the feeling I experienced at that time, looking out at a lonely desert landscape through a car window. [Lut Desert] is an amazing place but in this image, the place itself is less important. To me, this image is a reflection of one’s inner journey. I’m not sure if everyone will agree with my interpretation, and interpreting your own photograph can ruin somebody else’s experience of seeing it, but this is my take on the image.
What did you have to do to get this specific shot?
The challenge wasn’t so much technical as it was logistical. The driver of a rental car brought me here after a long drive from Kerman, the nearest big city. I was almost falling asleep when we arrived. He told me we would spend the rest of the day driving around the desert. I was about to alight from the car when I noticed the shot and quickly took a few frames.
What was the assignment?
Back in 2017, Iran was on the travel destination hotlist and I was assigned by a travel magazine to cover the exciting prospects the country was anticipating in light of the nuclear deal. I took the opportunity to take a personal trip as well, as I’ve always wanted to return to this beautiful country after first visiting in 2012.
What was the most memorable moment of the assignment?
After walking into Iran from the Azerbaijan border, I was greeted by a taxi driver who offered to drive me to Baku, about 300km away, for less than US$20 in a fairly new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Azerbaijan’s currency had recently been devalued, so everything was suddenly so cheap.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
There were simply too many places that I wanted to visit but had no time to. It was my second time there, and I barely scratched its surface.
What’s your one piece of advice for budding photographers?
Be open to possibilities and be respectful whenever you photograph people. During my travels, I’ve seen many photographers be disrespectful to people when shooting images. It’s important to be a human first and then a photographer.
What’s your favourite place to photograph in the world and why?
Iran and the Balkans. For me, it’s because I’ve read a lot about the recent history of both places: the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
What’s been your most memorable travel experience for work or pleasure?
Hiking the Himalayas with my wife and our little daughter. It was a really rewarding experience for us as a family to spend quality time together in such beautiful surroundings.
Where would you love to photograph that you haven’t yet?
I would like to go to the northern part of Pakistan.
What are your three travel essentials?
A camera, a spare phone and comfortable shoes.
Where do you dream of travelling to next?
I’m planning to go back to Iran, and will take my family along this time. They have to see it for themselves.
See more of Muhammad Fadli’s photography here.