I am a Lebanese American licensed psychologist and self-taught photographer. I am also a first-generation immigrant and the daughter of a Palestinian refugee. I was born in the middle of a civil war and moved to California from Beirut at age 22. I currently provide psychosocial rehabilitation services to people with severe mental illness at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. I greatly enjoy being behind and in front of the camera lens. I am driven by my desire to understand the realities of people living on the edges of society and document the cultural and psychological aspects of the human condition. I am fascinated by traditional communities and counterculture, identity and self-expression, stories of struggle and perseverance, cemeteries and abandoned places. I strive to create images that reveal our shared humanity, defy assumed stereotypes, and encourage individuality.
I have been to 37 countries and my bucket list is constantly growing. I travel to explore the tremendous beauty and cultural diversity of this planet. I travel to get lost in the adventure of discovery. I travel to challenge myself and put things back in perspective. I have been to the most important Christian, Judaic, and Hindu cities. I have seen the world’s largest religious monument. I have visited ancient Buddhist, Jain, Islamic, Roman, and Nabatean sites. I have interacted with the Maasai and Karen tribes. I have touched the intricate carvings of the Alhambra, delicate stone inlays of the Taj Mahal, bas-reliefs of the Temple of Horus, and remnants of the Berlin Wall. I have slept in a bomb shelter in Beirut, ryokan in Kyoto, cave hotel in Cappadocia, glass pod hanging off a cliff in the Sacred Valley, haveli in Rajasthan, kettuvallam in Kerala, and tiny house on a lava field in Hawaii. I have shed tears at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and a plant medicine ceremony in the Andes. I have walked through the biggest slum in Africa. I have smelled dead bodies burning on the banks of the Ganga. I have tasted delectable laal maas, fugu shirako, and alligator quiche. I have cruised the Kerala Backwaters and Nile River. I have floated in the Dead Sea and swum in the Blue Lagoon. I have soaked in a hammam and an onsen. I have bathed an elephant and watched a pride feasting on a buffalo. I have camped out on the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US and on the dunes of the Great Indian Desert. I have hiked the Inca Trail and one of the most active volcanoes. I have trekked in the Himalayas and summited the tallest free-standing mountain on earth. I have run a marathon, completed a century ride, and mastered the Ashtanga Primary Series. I have snowboarded in the Rockies and tried surfing in Mexico, scuba diving in Florida, horseback riding in Colorado, ziplining in Guatemala, ultralight flying in Costa Rica, skydiving in California, and paragliding in Lebanon. I have sprained my ankle at Burning Man, gotten bedbug bites in Siem Reap, and had my purse stolen in Paris. I have returned to my father’s birthplace, which was not possible when I lived 80 miles away, but only after I immigrated, obtained a PhD, and worked with the US Government.
I started taking pictures as a teenager and got my first film camera (Canon EOS Rebel G) in 1999 during my first trip to the US. I switched to a digital SLR (Nikon D90) in 2009 then to a full-frame (Nikon D610) in 2015. I mainly shoot with two lenses (35mm and wide angle) and use simple post-processing techniques to edit my images. It wasn’t until 2019 that I finally began shooting in Raw Format and learning Lightroom. My most recent shots have been taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Sony RX100 VII (my favorite pocket-sized mirrorless camera). Photography allows me to preserve beautiful memories indefinitely, look more closely at the world around me, and connect with people despite cultural/language barriers. I am guided by my curiosity and I use my camera not just as an extension of my eye, but also as an extension of my heart. I try to fully immerse myself in every environment and learn about different ways of life so I can report back the true essence of a place. I think a good photograph broadens the mind and has the power to undo our assumptions about the world.