Abass Salman always had a passion for photography. His intense interest in photography eventually inspired him to pursue photojournalism. Photography was always more than a hobby for Abass Salman, it satisfied an innate, unidentifiable desire and yearning. He studied the fundamental principles of photography while working at Al Safir newspaper. This desire for self development and improvement positively impacted his abilities and career as a photojournalist.
Abass Salman was greatly influenced by a photojournalist during an air battle between Israel and Syria in 1973. A bomb was dropped in Abass’ region and the photographer Abed Al Razak Al Sayed was documenting the event. Abass Salman craved to be just like Abed Al Razak Al Sayed. At this time Abass was working for Al Anwar newspaper. After the passage of several years he saw the same photographer at a student protest in Shams Al Tar. Witnessing Abed Al Razak Al Sayed in action proved to be the source that energized Abass’ passion and commitment to photography. Abass Salman endured many incidences of hardship and danger during every war. The most risky days were during the Harb Al Ilghe , Hazb Al Amal and Hazb Allah, Israeli invasions of Lebanon . Currently, he gives private lessons in photography.
In Abass’ opinion, photography was formerly a difficult career because all photographs were created from negatives. Abass Salman states, “I studied intensively with George Semerdjian. He was an extremely accomplished and confident artist and demonstrated a unique perspective in his photographs. His tutelage was invaluable. Intellect and reason are indispensable when shooting photographs. A photographer must know why he is photographing an incident; the photograph needs to reflect these thoughts. The photograph must encompass and exemplify a specific meaning.”
Abass Salman declares, “The camera is my friend for life. During times of war capturing photos outweighs assisting someone in danger. I perform my job first and then assist others. One night when the Israeli’s were bombarding Aaramoun Street an Israeli soldier was injured and I took him to the hospital. I assist victims regardless of their affiliations. My role as a photographer is to record and document events for the benefit of all members of humanity. If I drop my camera and lend a hand to injured people then I will no longer be a photographer.”
Despite his opinions and beliefs he takes photos of situations that oppose his moral values. Abass Salman does not superimpose his beliefs into his photographs. He captures photos of every incidence that takes place including politicians, victims of violence, people in distress and the suffering resulting from poverty and ex-communication.
Abass Salman is not intimidated by emotional or physical obstacles or barriers. His family adamantly tries to prevent him from photographing during times of was. However, he just as adamantly refuses to comply. He states, “I have been on the edge of death innumerable times, yet I have survived. My experience has taught me how to act.”
Abass Salman’s aim is to expose the dreadful circumstances in which poor and underprivileged people are living. He asserts, “Some of these victims of poverty are photographers who have been neglected and not given their proper due and recognition.”
Abass Salman has a simple yet profoundly momentous message to the Lebanese, “Do not run after politics or political issues.”
• Name and Surname: Abass Salman
• Place of birth: Shams Al Tar, Lebanon
• Date of birth: 1957
• Agency that employs him: “Al Safir” newspaper (President, Photography Section)
• Length of Career: 1974 to present (35 years)
By Sevana Semerdjian