By Minju Kim
Growing up, photographer Shuaib Jenhar was exceptionally interested in visual details in his surroundings. When watching a movie, he was more interested in camera angles and lighting rather than the plot. He was always the one to volunteer when taking family pictures, or even when casually snapping photos with his friends. In 2016, he finally decided to invest in a camera and take his interest in photography to the next level.
“Photography in itself is a process of storytelling.”
With a focus on street and travel photography, the 22-year-old Jenhar says that he is most interested in the power of storytelling inherent to the medium. He believes that every snapshot of people’s lives tells a unique story about them. That story is also what connects Jenhar to his subjects. “When you take a picture of someone, you might not ever see that person again. Even then, the human connection you had with them is kept alive in that moment by the photograph.”
At our first meeting at a coffee shop in downtown Minneapolis, Jenhar beams with warm energy and a passion that is contagious to those around him. “I am Somali, but I grew up in Saudi Arabia, speaking Arabic,” he says. “I’m always thinking about different places I can visit and learn from. I am dying to visit your country [South Korea] some day!” We soon set out to start filming at his favorite downtown Minneapolis. While shooting, he never forgets to greet people with a smile and to bid them goodbye with a thumbs up. The process of his work revolves so much more around the people than the photos he captures.
In his ongoing photo-series “Capturing the Beauty of Our People,” Jenhar photographs the celebration on Somali Independence Day (July 1st) on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Here, he explores the question of “Soomaalinimo,” which translates to “Being Somali.” He asks: “What does it mean for these kids, who were born and grew up in Minnesota, to be Somali? What connects them to their parents and their homeland? What does being Somali mean for all of us?”
When he is not out and about taking pictures on the streets, Jenhar is a full-time student at the University of Minnesota, studying healthcare management and leadership. He believes that adequate and affordable health care is necessary for everyone, and hopes to make an impact on patient care when he is older. He also loves to study languages and learn different cultures through them. As a trilingual (Arabic, Somali, English), he is now learning to become fluent in Spanish and is excited to visit the Spanish-speaking countries in the near future.
If you are inspired by the beauty and warmth of Jenhar’s photographs, check out the gallery below to see more of his work. You can also visit his Instagram page, where he regularly shares his most recent photography journey online.