The Photographer Capturing Saudi Underground Youth Culture
Urbfitter captures freedom and diversity in Saudi
Sarah Ben Romdane
25 year-old Riyadh-based photographer, Hayat Osama, first became interested in photography through her love of fashion. She bought her first DSLR camera as a teenager as a way of documenting her outfits, which she would then post on her Instagram account. “I learned how to take pictures on YouTube”, she says.
Over time, the self-taught photographer—who has accumulated over 10,000 followers—has become synonymous with capturing the rawness of Saudi Arabian youth culture.
MILLE caught up with Osama to get some intel on the local creative scene and what it’s like to be a female photographer in the conservative country.
Why did you choose to shoot the environment and people surrounding you?
I love capturing freedom, and I am particularly inspired by the spirit of the youth and how they express themselves, in such a real and carefree manner.
What topics do you want to explore through your photography?
I want to show rawness, diversity and androgyny.
What are some of your favourite places to shoot?
I’ve never left Saudi Arabia actually, so I’ve only been shooting in Riyadh and Jeddah. I like to go to isolated and abandoned spots; it will usually take me an hour or two by car to find the perfect place to shoot. Historical locations like Albalad in Jeddah are always a good option.
As a young, ground-breaking female photographer in Saudi Arabia, do you consider your art political?
I haven’t noticed any difference (in comparison to men) when it comes to shooting to be honest. I sometimes face issues when I want to shoot women in public, but that’s an obstacle anyone would experience. I don’t think I’m doing anything political, I’m just expressing myself and my pictures speak to my generation.
Who are some Saudi creatives you think we should keep an eye on?
There are a lot of interesting creative minds in Saudi, but some struggle to find the right platform and community. That’s why I’m creating Recent Mag, a platform supporting local artists. @ttaaha is my favourite photographer!