Ali Khurshid: Pakistani Flickr-er Featured by TIME

Posted on December 19, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, About ATP, Art & Literature, People
Total Views: 37017


Adil Najam

By nor our readers would know that TIME magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2006 is ‘You.’

For those who may not yet have actually seen the issue or not checked their email recently, the exciting news is that YOU-The Pakistani are represented on this by a 22-year old Pakistani photography hound, Ali Khurshid. We at ATP congratulate him for this deserved honor and happy to say that we ‘featured’ and honored him (in June) even before TIME did.

The ‘Person of the Year,’ really, is this thing called Web 2.0 which harnesses the untold energies of ordinary people to create a collectivity through blogs, Wikipedia, MySpace, FaceBook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. that is taking – and sometimes beating – big ‘organized’ media. As the TIME cover story says:

…for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

In the cover story write-up, TIME features fifteen ordinary individuals who exemplify the ‘You’ in Web 2.0. Ordinary individuals, mostly young, who have harnessed the power of things like YouTube, MySpace, blogs, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.

Representing the power of is Ali Khurshid, who is one of the many many immensely talented Pakistani photographers whose works you will find at Flickr. According to the TIME write-up on him:

Khurshid, now 22, is an artist in a country that’s known mostly, in the West at least, for its politics. He takes pictures “to make sure Pakistan’s real beauty was put through,” he says. “Not just the Pakistan that is shown in the media, always the center of attention for all the wrong reasons” … Last year Khurshid began uploading his pictures to Flickr, a website where anyone can post his photos, view another’s and swap comments and critiques. In all, there are more than 320 million photos on Flickr right now, about 200 of which are Khurshid’s. He’s a shy, polite man, but Khurshid is more than willing to wax romantic about the unifying, globalizing greatness of the Flickr community. “I love the world coming together in one place and just sharing all that’s in it,” he says. “I feel like I get to see the world like it really, truly is. Not by stereotyping a people or a country.”

Wonderful thought, wonderfully expressed. Nearly as wonderful as his photographs. Very well done, Ali Khurshid, Thank You.

I have admired Ali Khurshid’s work ever since I first stumbled onto early this year. Early in the life of this blog I did a post on one of his picture, Levitating Lyari-boy. And I visit his space on Flickr often to see his latest work. Indeed, there is a whole wonder-world of Pakistaniat that Pakistani photographers have created on the Internet, on Flickr and elsewhere. We have featured the works of a few here – Razak Vance, Jawad Zakariya, Umair Ghani, to name a few; but, really, there are so many more who are contributing terrifically.

I think TIME is certainly onto something. I know this blog could not possibly be what it is without Flickr and YouTube.

I came to those two well before I even knew there was a thing called a ‘blog.’ I had made a little video for myself and friends and someone suggested that I should put it on and YouTube. I have never even heard of either. I did, and lo and behold literally hundreds of people started pouring in daily to watch and comment on my little handiwork. My second encounter with Web 2.0 was through Flickr. I was looking for an appropriate photograph for the cover of my new book on Pakistanis in America. A Google search took me to Flickr and, I still remember, the first time I got there I was there for about 3 hours just jumping from one picture to the other. I discovered the world of blogs a little later (around May, 2006, I think). By June I had this blog going and now you know why it has the heavy visual and video identity that it does.

Luckily, TIME is also quick to recognize (as we are in moderating this modest blog), the limitations of Web 2.0:

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

But that’s what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There’s no road map for how an organism that’s not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.

So, yes, in some ways I think TIME is right in name YOU/US as the Persons of the Year. But one more word of caution: one other thing I have learnt from ATP is that, yes, Web 2.0 has a LOT of us, but it does not have ALL of us; not even close, and probably never. And therein lies the real threat.

23 Comments on “Ali Khurshid: Pakistani Flickr-er Featured by TIME”

  1. khalid says:
    December 19th, 2006 1:32 pm

    Congratulation to Ali Khurshid ,, His photographs are great.

  2. Samdani says:
    December 19th, 2006 1:41 pm

    My congratulations too. I am also amazed at the breadth of Pakistani talent on teh internet as a whole and both Flickr and YouTube (with songs and film clips) are doing a great service in preserving information and images of Pakistan on the world wide web.

  3. Asma says:
    December 19th, 2006 2:07 pm

    So for ATP, this year really was all about YOU … :)

    And yup Ali Khurshid’s work is brilliant … for last 5-6 months i’ve become quite addicted to flickr too … and his work is sure delightful … only thru this article I came to knew that he’s 22 … if at this tender age he’s producing all this … I wonder where he’d be in few years … !!!!

  4. December 19th, 2006 2:35 pm

    Its wonderful to hear that a young Pakistani is being recognized for his efforts. Ali is a talented young man and very modest…A well deserved accolade and hopefully the first of many…

  5. Sufi says:
    December 19th, 2006 3:50 pm

    What a lovely surprise. TM’s post on KMB about Ali lead me to Pakistaniat. I congratulate him with all my heart. The moment I saw his pictures, I was mesmerized, truly awesome work by the kid. He has some of the best silhouettes on Flickr.

    Adil, my experience with Flickr wasn’t much different from yours. I have been taking pictures in karachi since 2003 and been posting online and was always looking for more fellow photographers.
    We had a small group on Orkut “Pakistani Photographers” and later after the success of Flickr, it was the obvious choice for uploading & displaying my art and also looking & learning from other peoples experiences. Now, Alhumdulillah we have about 10,000 Pictures of Karachi on Flickr (and this only includes pictures which are TAGGED Karachi) & growing..

    I totally agree with the choice of Times person of the year. The power of Web 2.0 is amazing. And it has the potential to remove the stereo typical image that we have as Pakistanis. I asked my fellow bloggers to click more & post online to show that not all of us are fanatics and war loving.

    Once again, a heartfelt congratulations to Ali. Hopefully this award will encourage a lot of new people to come out of their hideouts and share their artwork with the world.

  6. December 19th, 2006 4:02 pm

    I was just alerted about this via a comment on Metroblog Karachi.

    If you go to the main page of Wikipedia the feature article today is about Allama Mohammad Iqbal.

    Reminds me that I have been thinking of doing some posts on him…. soon, I hope.

  7. Daktar says:
    December 19th, 2006 4:04 pm

    I appreciate his pictures, but also the views he expressed to TIME. Very nicely said.

  8. Adnan Ahmad says:
    December 19th, 2006 4:10 pm

    I find it neat that that he has taken these shots with a very basic point and shoot digital camera. From flickr I gathered it was a nikon D5600 with a little bit of optical zoom. People I know who are into photography are more into equipment than their own eye. And as many know sky is the limit when it comes to the prices of high end cameras and lenses. I guess it all goes to waste in most cases.

  9. falcon says:
    December 19th, 2006 7:06 pm

    I remember Razak Vance and Umair Ghani from (years before flickr). Not only did they have beautiful photographs, they often left notes of encouragement for any other photographer with a Pakistani name (non-Pakistani names as well) :)

  10. Pakpics says:
    December 20th, 2006 1:33 am

    Ali’s work is brilliant & congrats to him

  11. December 20th, 2006 4:25 am

    I read about Ali Khurshid in Time Magazine and immediately wrote an email to congratulate him, to my surprise he replied me back so friendly. I wish him all the best as he is not only a good photographer but also a nice person :-)!

  12. Daktar says:
    December 20th, 2006 10:14 am

    The You Tube has been even more amazing for Pakistanis than Flickr. But teh quality of comments there , as the Time article says, is really deplorable and pathetic. I look at that and thank you for keeping this blog moderated.

  13. Ghalib says:
    December 20th, 2006 8:55 pm

    hats off man! nice to see our youth contributing positively an gettin appreciated!

  14. zamanov says:
    December 20th, 2006 10:06 pm

    Ali Khurshid’s work is amazing and glad to see him being noticed by Time magazine. His views mentioned in the write up show that along with a keen eye he possesses a refined mind as well. All power to him and Pakistanis like him.

  15. Umar Shah says:
    December 21st, 2006 1:33 am

    I believe good photographers like Ali Khurshid make the best use of both the camera and software like Photoshop CS2, which he seems to have used. People like that are not just photographers but artists. Congratulations to him.

  16. December 22nd, 2006 10:05 am

    I don’t know where to put this image’s link. I was looking at the photos in Flickr and saw this one. I never saw people playing western instruments on streets of Pakistan to earn some money.

  17. Asif Raza says:
    December 22nd, 2006 3:20 pm

    hey nice work mans , hats off for you ;)

  18. Eidee Man says:
    December 23rd, 2006 2:11 pm

    I saw this story some time back and only yesterday got the chance to look at this guy’s pictures. I realized that I had already set 3-4 of his pictures as my desktop wallpaper…and had shown it off at work!

    Anyway, maybe ATP can ask people like him to do a guest post or something?

  19. Sohaib says:
    December 24th, 2006 12:35 pm

    This is simply fabulous stuff. Exactly the kind of thing we need to show the world our till-now-hidden talents.

  20. Aafza says:
    December 25th, 2006 2:09 am

    COngratualtions to Ali and thank you to you for highlighting this. I had never been to and have been exploring it now and amazed at great pictures on Pakistan there.

  21. Umair Ghani says:
    January 20th, 2007 1:00 am

    comendable! yes, Ali did it so beautifully well that it made me feel proud about young Pakistani photographers. since the day i learned about Ali Khurshid & saw some of his stunning shots on display at Nairang Art Gallery, Lahore. i had a feeling that this guy’s creative eye & artistic vision will yeild promising results. there’s plenty of time for him to develope artistic vision & develope/ polish photographic esthetics through experiment & learning. so far he’s done a great job. a great future lies ahead. all the best, Ali!!!

  22. eran arden says:
    March 14th, 2007 4:55 pm

    Hi my name is Eran Arden, I live in Israel, I am a big believer in people and peace, I would like to organize an expedition of Ali’s pictures in Israel. can anybody give me his Email, My email is

  23. February 28th, 2010 9:27 am

    Nice beach shots!

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