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 36 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, the delicate stone inlays of the Taj Mahal, the bas-reliefs of the Temple of Horus, and remnants of the Berlin Wall. I have slept in a haveli, houseboat, ryokan, cave hotel, and tiny house built on lava. I have woken up to the sound of bombs. I have shed tears inside Yad Vashem, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, and 9/11 Memorial Museum. 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 soaked in a hammam, an onsen, and the Playboy Mansion jacuzzi. I have floated in the Dead Sea and swum in the Blue Lagoon. I have bathed an elephant and been a few feet away from a pride feasting on a buffalo. I have camped out on the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US and under the stars of the Great Indian Desert. I have hiked one of the most active volcanoes and summited the tallest free-standing mountain on earth. I have run the San Diego Marathon and tried surfing in Mexico, snorkeling in Hawaii, scuba diving in Florida, horseback riding in Colorado, snowboarding in Utah, ziplining in Guatemala, ultralight flying in Costa Rica, skydiving in California, and paragliding in Lebanon. I have sprained my knee in Florence, 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. 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. 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.
I have displayed my work at a few group exhibitions in Los Angeles:
– Garden of Lost Dreams (Mi Alma Echo Gardens) ~ July 2011
– LA Downtown Art Walk (620 S. Main St) ~ Oct 2011
– Brite People (Echoes Under Sunset) ~ Aug 2012
– Mirrors of the Mind: The Psychotherapist as Artist (Art Share LA) ~ Nov 2013, 14, 16, 17
– Immersive Future (Touchon & Co Gallery) ~ June 2019