Hailing from the humble city of Kota Bharu, Nabil Rosman or more commonly known as Nabil, is a third-year law student from the Faculty of Law, National University of Malaysia. At the age of 20, Nabil is not your ordinary student like the lots of us. Having won the title of the “Hasselblad Master” organized by the renowned camera brand, Hasselblad in 2018, Nabil made a name for himself within the international photography scene at the tender age of 18.
There were a whopping 31,500 entries from across the world in the 2018 Hasselblad Master Competition, yet Nabil’s work still manged to stand out and win the heart of the juries. Never in his wildest dream that he imagined his work would be given due recognition. Thus, him winning an international photography competition was a bolt from the blue for Nabil. The joy of being crowned the “Hasselblad Master” still lingers till today but that did not make Nabil rests on his laurels.
Nabil started off his photography journey during secondary school when he stumbled upon Pete Souza’s documentary on the former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Young Nabil was deeply enthralled by the still images of Barack Obama in the documentary as he somehow felt the raw emotion relayed by the stills. It was at that profound moment, Nabil realised the art of figurative is not limited to words only, but through pictures people will understand it as a universal language.
Not long thereafter, Nabil began his voyage as an aspiring photographer. Nabil’s father soon noticed Nabil’s interest in photography and bought Nabil his very first camera. Despite it being just a conventional digital camera, it was through which Nabil honed his photography skills and learned his cameras’ theories. At the age of 15, Nabil got his first job—shooting at a friend’s event, and he never looked back since.
When asked about what photography means to him, Nabil elucidated the power of visuals. For Nabil, words are insufficient to convey the full gamut of human emotions and thus making it difficult for us to wrap our head around the stories of collective sufferings. It is only through visuals that we can feel the joy, pain, anger and sadness of others, and by which elicits our empathy and love.
As such, Nabil wishes to express his views on peace, harmony and environment through his lens. His ambition is to one day become a war photojournalist and to shine light on the stories of war victims and refugees who are suffering on the other end of the globe. Not everyone is willing to risk their lives for a story but Nabil seeks to capture the fragility of human lives in the face of war and translate them into a lasting reminder to everyone of the need to spread peace and love each other.
Living in the social media era, people by and large do not bother about the message behind an image. We are so complacent with our comfortable life that the only thing we care about is our #ootd and #potd. We admired the glossy influencer lifestyle where everything is bubbly and ebullient. Youths today are especially entrenched in this influencer wannabe culture that we often neglect the societal issues around us. Climate emergency, refugees’ crisis, hypercapitalism, feminism, just to name a few, are some of the pressing issues of our generation, yet they do not receive enough limelight from the general public.
Photography should never be diminished to mere likes and comments, it should always tell a story. As such, Nabil felt the need to return to the roots of photography and tells a story of our generation. For instance, the photos that conferred Nabil the “Hasselblad Master” title was his story about the struggle of a drug user. He sought to express the struggle of addiction by showcasing the conflicting emotions of a drug addict. And the end results were impeccable. His images were raw but at the same time eerily beautiful.
When asked if there is one advice he could give to his fellow juniors, Nabil said “If you love what you are doing, eventually you will get to it. Just focus on yourself and keep trying, don’t miss every opportunity out there.” It’s true, Nabil would not be where he is right now had he not mustered the courage and participated in the Hasselblad competition.
He did not yield when he was belittled by others looking down on his passion as having no future prospect and stands as secondary if to be compared with a professional career. Most importantly, he did not forego his dream to be a photojournalist albeit with no formal education on photography. Nabil’s story is not a bed of roses, but he never gives up.