An award-winning Emirati photographer says it is "her duty" to capture UAE culture through her lens.
A Decisive Moment for young photographer
DUBAI // Maitha bint Khalid waited patiently to capture the moment a hunter caught its prey.
The black and white image of a young falcon swooping to the ground to grab a pigeon in its talons - entitled The Decisive Moment - was judged best photo in the falconry section at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) this month.
The 23-year-old Emirati also won the title of Best Emirati Photographer this year at the Emirates Photography Competition and received a gold medal from the International Federation of Photographic Art for her series titled Transposition.
"Her work is special because she focuses on traditions of the UAE," said Saif Al Zari, the vice president of the Emirates Photography Society. "Many other photographers tend to focus on general subjects but, in her case, she focused on her culture as a subject and became creative in it."
Her subjects include falcons, camels, palm trees and oryx.
"Most of my pictures are in black and white because it's more challenging than the photos with colour," said Ms bint Khalid. "You have to show the subject in detail with just the shades of two colours.
"I always concentrate on the Emirati culture and not mimicking other cultures," she added. "I feel proud of our culture and I want people to see it from an Emirati perspective."
When she is not taking photographs, Ms bint Khalid takes classes in Emirati Studies at Zayed University in Dubai.
But her entry into the world of photography was never a sure thing. She comes from a prominent family and, at first, her father opposed the idea of her entering competitions.
"In the beginning, my father refused to let me participate in competitions," she said. "Then he told me I can compete under one condition: I give only my first two names."
To this day, Ms bint Khalid abides by that rule.
After she won her first prize in 2008, her father became more supportive. Not only did he buy her a new camera, he also bought a white falcon for her to photograph.
"I feel so proud that she represents our nation through her photography," said her mother, who gave Ms bint Khalid her first camera - a Polaroid - when she was a child. "I felt that she had artistic tendencies within her, so I liked to give her the chance to discover herself.
"One of the most important things is for parents to encourage their children to improve their skills in different fields," she said.
Her daughter now hopes more Emiratis will become active on the photography scene and reap the rewards of representing their culture.
"Many of them upload their work on the internet, but I don't know where these photographers disappear to during competitions," said Ms bint Khalid. "I think Emirati photographers lack the spirit of participation and they should develop it alongside a spirit of competitiveness," she said.