When Khawla Aljodar, a San Francisco-based Emirati, received a digital camera as a gift from her husband, she had no idea the role the gadget would play in her life.
Fast forward just two years later and the 36-year-old is now an award-winning photographer. At the annual Photoshop World Conference held in Las Vegas earlier this month, Aljodar came out on top of the Photoshop World Guru Awards.
The winning photograph Aljodar submitted was taken at Half Moon Bay beach in California, of a little boy, his face covered with sand.
"I just loved the expression he had on his face and had to capture it," says Aljodar. "I think it won because of the natural and unique expression the boy had on his face. There was no posing involved."
The award, she says, is her "gift to the UAE".
"As an Emirati I represent my country and when I win, I feel like the UAE has won. Whenever I'm asked about my nationality in the US, I'd say I'm an Emirati and the Americans would normally wonder and ask: 'What country is that?' I want the world to hear more about us, our talent and achievements - not just in the UAE where we get all the support from our government, but internationally where we earn it."
Aljodar currently works as a freelance photographer and aims to establish an international photography business.
"I mostly admire women photographers who have made it successfully through this male-dominated craft of photography," says Aljodar.
Having been inspired by fellow women photographers she met at the conference, Aljodar hopes she too will inspire others to work towards their dreams. She says it was only after challenging herself to step out of her comfort zone that she was able to introduce her work and talent to the world.
"There's no better time for us to show what Arab women are capable of," says Aljodar.
To see Aljodar's work, visit www.khkhphotography.com