Hussam Sleiby, a dentist who discovered his passion for photography

Dentist 1
Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)
Hussam Sleiby is a dentist and oral surgeon by profession, and as of the last few years,  a new photography enthusiast.

Sleiby embarked on his artistic journey early in life through drawing, painting, and sculpting, but he found his passion when he discovered photography as an art medium a few years ago. Since then he has been experimenting with photography using different subjects and techniques to develop his own style. اضافة اعلان

Hussam Sleiby is a dentist and oral surgeon who found his passion in photography. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

"The main part of dental medicine requires good artistic skills since a dentist is supposed to restore teeth by mimicking nature using his hands and eyes. Artistic skills are what differentiate a great dentist from a good one. On the other hand, I always loved photography. Still, I couldn’t find the courage to take it seriously until a few years ago, and my previous knowledge in creative elements and passion for art helped in advancing and honing my photography skills quickly," Sleiby told Jordan News.

Even though both fields are quite different, Sleiby can hold space for both dentistry and photography. He shares that he does not want to choose one over the other, but instead, he shares his love for them both.

"I love doing both. Dentistry is a stressful profession, but I love the fact that I can help people and relieve their pain. Then again, I love creating images with my camera; photography helps me relax and unwind. Through photography, I see the world rather than merely look at it,” he said.

Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

As a photographer, Sleiby believes that authentic photography always starts with an emotion. He sees the subject that he connects with, develops a specific feeling towards it, and works towards conveying it through a photograph.

"That is when you decide to capture that subject in a way that delivers the same feeling to the viewer." He said.

"With my images, I try to capture subjects, whether nature, insects, or still life, in a way that the viewer is not used to seeing. I do my best to convey a feeling and tell a story which the viewer can relate to," he added.

When it comes to delivering a message through photography, Sleiby believes that he is more concerned with creating aesthetically pleasing images that trigger a feeling of joy and wonder in the viewer to take their mind off the
stressful reality of daily life.

Before the dentist pursued photography professionally, his photography journey started as a hobby, without realizing that he would take it seriously one day.

"I always carried around a small camera whenever I went out or traveled, and I used to take photos of everything. But, I didn’t realize at the time that I would take it seriously," he said. 

"I was concerned with the high cost and large size of a professional camera, not to mention the fact that I did not know how to use one, so I kept the idea of buying a camera aside for a long time. Until one day, I came across a Facebook ad for a camera at a low price. I contacted the seller, but I realized that I still didn’t know anything about photography. That is when I decided to start researching cameras and learning photography and got my first entry-level camera. It has been a few years since then, but I still try to learn and increase my knowledge every day."

Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

When it comes to goals, Sleiby shares that he has many in terms of photography. "I want to do my own solo exhibition in one of Amman’s prestigious galleries, then hopefully Dubai, and then maybe somewhere in Europe. I have a passion for teaching, and I have a workshop coming soon, so doing that on a bigger scale would be great. I would love to reach a bigger audience of photography lovers and art collectors, increasing my print sales. Winning an international photography award is also a dream of mine,” he said.

The dentist and photographer strongly believes that we can always do what we love and what lifts up our spirit, but only if we manage to organize and prioritize our time.

Sleiby has been working as a dentist for more than 24 years and has been a family man for over 15 years.

He gave all his time to work and family. However, he eventually realized that it is crucial to create time for himself and do what he loves away from work and family to recharge and relieve the daily stress.

The Jordanian photographer thinks that we reached a point in Jordan where people have begun noticing the importance of photography but only to a certain extent.

"You see more and more galleries exhibiting photography artworks, and people are willing to pay money to collect images captured by talented photographers. I never knew how many talented photographers we have in Jordan until I became one myself.  The number is big, and many are recognized on an international level," he said.

Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

"There are a few institutes and training centers that teach photography, whether general photographic skills or specialized genres of photography. They also offer hands-on workshops and organize photographic trips around Jordan. They are not many, but I think the number is enough based on the market demand. Actually, I conduct a still life photography workshop with Fotografiajo. There is also Darat Al-Tasweer and Jordan Photographic Society. All led by professional high-end photographers."

On the other hand, he believes that governmental entities, in particular, do not support Jordanian photographers and even feels that those photographers feel neglected by the government.

"Although we have many brilliant award-winning Jordanian photographers who compete on international levels, special entities and ministries still resort to non-Jordanian photographers, whether Arab, European or American, to help create tourism campaigns for Jordan. Unfortunately, if Jordanian photographers are hired, they will either be underpaid or even asked to present their work for free. That is an unfortunate scenario."

Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

Sleiby said that through his photographic journey, to see the beauty in everything and everyone, he found that there is so much beauty in the world. Still, we are being programmed to only see the distorted aspects of our world through news and social media.

"Anything can be a beautiful subject for a photograph if you know how to capture it. Life is a set of fleeting moments, and capturing a few of those moments with my camera gives them an immortal quality and saves them for years to come. Patience is a quality I learned through photography. Nothing great in life happens instantly; we need to have enough patience to wait for great results, great achievements, and great connections," he explained.

Regarding the reason behind choosing still life to capture, Sleiby pointed out that "in the old days, when I used to paint, my main subject was still life. I love the idea of portraying commonplace objects in different and most dramatic ways. I love the way light and shadow interact with the elements in the scene."

The photographer added: "About a year and a half ago, my passion for still life art re-emerged, and I started developing a painterly photography style inspired by the artworks of old masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The result was fine art still-life images that tell a visual story. Some of the images I create tell a personal story, while others create a nostalgic mood transferring the viewer to a time when life was much simpler and less complex."

Hussam Sleiby aims for his photography to evoke feelings of joy. (Photo: Handout from Hussam Sleiby)

"The subjects of my images are all local products, some of which are grown at home, and vintage items used by Jordanian households decades ago. The flowers depicted in my photographs are all collected from house gardens and sidewalks of Amman streets, showing a great variety in the vegetation still present around the city. So basically, with still life photography, I managed to show glimpses of our history and tell beautiful stories about how life was," he said.

The photographer and dentist advised youth who have a dream they have not pursued yet not to wait until they are ready or have enough time on their hands, stating that they will probably never be ready.

"If you are not ready today, you will be even less ready tomorrow. Don’t allow yourself to think much about it. Follow your heart and just begin, and I believe you will find the time. You will see things effortlessly falling into place,” he advised.

Read more Entrepreneurship