Interview: Dalia Daud

In this, the first interview on my blog, I bring you Dalia Daud, a street photographer based in Malaysia. Dalia has developed a strong eye for candid street photography, her work managing to tell stories though clever composition and framing, light and shadow and those moments that might easily be missed. When I first viewed her work, I knew I would be hooked and continue to be impressed with every image she shares. Dalia describes herself as “An amateur who can’t wait to see where photography will lead her”. 

Thank you Dalia for taking part and sharing with this community some of what drives you as a photographer!

Please take a moment and check out her photography at the link below:

Website: Dalia Daud Photography

All images ©2014 Dalia Daud

Photos: Travel Partner

Mike Pratt Photography: When did you first become interested in photography and street photography? How did you start?

Dalia Daud: I started as a wedding photographer actually! Bought my first camera and just asked one of my best friends who were getting married at that time if I could be her second photographer. After a few weddings I soon realized that particular business might not be for me, although I still loved capturing that perfect moment. Even before that I would borrow my sisters’s or friend’s camera and play around with it. For me, Street Photography just happened. I didn’t plan on it; somehow I began to capture more and more street shots and loving it!

MPP: You have a distinct style, with light and shadow playing an important role in your images.Was this something you discovered over time or did you always set out wanting to use these elements in your photos?

DD: It developed over time. At first I thought I could capture every aspect of street photography, but my shots were going nowhere. I decided to focus on what I’m naturally drawn to, which is light and shadow.

Photos: Shrouded | Cornered


MPP: When you head out the door, do you have a specific shot in mind or do you wait to see what the moment brings?

DD: Although I do hunt for light and shadows, most of the time I follow my instinct and react to what’s around me.

MPP: Would you like to share any advice for those who might be interested in street photography, but are unsure where to begin?

DD: Just follow your instinct and shoot!

MPP: We hear many different opinions and definitions about what street photography is. What does it mean to you?

DD: It’s about me and you; it’s about Life.

MPP: With all of the different cameras available, why did you choose a mobile phone?

DD: I needed something that I can and would bring with me everywhere. Some of my favourite photos were shot during commute, lunch break, and even on my way to the ladies!

Photos: Surrounded by Her Thoughts | Walking in the Rain


MPP: Photography is constantly evolving. How have mobile phones, in your opinion, changed photography, namely street photography? What do you say to critics who claim phones have
no place in true photography?

DD: When I first started using a mobile phone as my main camera, I thought all I can capture was still life and food! This would be great for certain photographers, but I just need that human element in my shots. So it came as a surprise  that the phone is a wonderful tool for street photography It’s very stealthy and even if people realized that you were taking their pictures they won’t feel intimidated and you would get a more natural feel in your shots.

To the critics; it’s ok, you do your thing and I’ll do mine!

MPP: We all get dry spells and need a break from time to time. How do you get back on track and overcome moments when the creativity just isn’t flowing?

DD: In my opinion, it’s OK and sometimes necessary to have ‘dry spells’. So, take a break and live your life, spend time with your loved ones and gain as much life experience as you can. How can we capture life if we know nothing about it?

MPP: Do you have any favourite images that you’ve taken? Do they have any particular meaning?

DD: Let There Be light: This picture represents hope for me. She’s surrounded by darkness, but there’s light guiding her way.

In Between Darkness and Light: I think most people are in this state, sometimes it’s unfair to categorize someone as bad or good, just faced with difficult choices.

Photos: Let There be Light | In Between Darkness and Light


MPP: Street photographers often take on a variety of projects. Are you embarking on any new projects?

DD: Right now I’m going to continue with my ‘Let There Be Light’ series. I’ve been thinking about other projects as well, maybe on the topic of ‘conformity’ and maybe some street portraits, inspired by you!

MPP: You recently had a frightening experience while shooting on the streets, when you were mugged. How did you overcome your fear and get back out taking photos? Has this experience created any new challenges?

DD: I started at a pace that I’m comfortable with and in a controlled environment. I started indoors and gradually moved from there. If I’m being honest, I haven’t fully overcome that fear, but it’s getting better the more I’m out on the street.

Challenges, yes definitely.When I don’t feel safe, rather than see the world as a photographer, I will become someone that expects danger. That would mean missing possible shots as I would always be looking over my shoulder.

Photo: Still HopingStill Hoping

MPP: Do you ever ask permission before taking a photo and what is your opinion on the candid vs. permission asked debate?

DD: Yes, but most of the time my shots are candid. Personally I prefer candid; the moment would have already passed if I were to ask for permission. However, like I mentioned before, I do want to try taking portrait shots when interactions with the subject would be needed.

MPP: What do you think of laws being passed in some countries preventing street photographers from capturing people in candid moments?

DD: In this day and age, I understand the concern; I came across an article about ‘stranger shaming’, where some people will take and post picture of people in social media to insult or embarrass them. If they were to pass that law, would it also apply to photojournalists? If not, how do you recognize a photographer who is doing his job/making an art or just someone with bad intentions?

MPP: If you could choose anywhere in the world to take pictures where would you go?

DD: It doesn’t really matter; I think each place has its own unique story to tell. My main concern right now is safety so if I have to answer, it might be Japan. I was there last year on a solo trip and the only time I felt afraid was when a couple of cats spooked me! That’s another story to tell!

Photo: March of the Working Men

Photo: Cigarette Break