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Zooming in on Gouna’s Pure Aesthetics with Photographer Farida Bustani

Bringing Gouna’s minimalist aesthetics to light through a series of colourful images, local photographer Farida Bustani celebrates her hometown through her camera.

As a light breeze carried the ambient sound of the red sea through the arched corridor at La Maison Bleue Hotel in El Gouna, Farida Bustani - a photographer based in the Hurghadian oasis - captured her friend gracefully standing in a fair, yellow sundress that contrasted with the serene shade of blue covering the walls and vaulted ceiling. “It was like walking on water, or in an aquarium,” she tells #SceneHome. “I like to take in those fleeting moments and enjoy the little things in life.”

Bustani, aged 24, started her photography when she was 16 years old, when the shapes and colours of her hometown ignited her passion for buildings. “Gouna is wonderful when it comes to minimal photography,” Bustani says. “Not only do you find symmetry in shapes and a variety of textures, but also the neatness needed for a photograph to look smooth and clean.”

Her first take at capturing Gouna was of a sandwashed building made up of multiple volumes, with a visually satisfying array of varied openings. “It looked like a LEGO to me, I had to have my friend pop out to show the scale of the architecture,” she says, recalling the shenanigans behind the image. In wanting to make it as symmetrical as possible, she got on top of her 4x4 to take the picture, which received a lot of love. “People started sharing it and everything just blew up from that point,” Bustani continues. “I then realised that I can play around in my city, and scout new aesthetics and architecture around town once a week.”

While on a walk past the multicoloured West Golf residences, Bustani took note of the vibrant staircases. “I had just one thought: Oh my! They look like gigantic oranges and bananas,” Bustani says. The photographer immediately grabbed her camera and photographed the shadow of tree branches on one of the staircases, capturing a moment that marked her propensity to linking shadows with architecture. “Shadow adds a lot of personality to these buildings, especially minimal ones.”

When playing with the shadows wasn’t enough, Bustani opted for natural elements like fruits. “I immediately went to the market and got fruits that matched them,” Bustani says, referring to a photograph that featured a pomegranate, orange and pineapple resting on different staircases. Not only are images like this a reflection of the photographer’s fun character, but they also lend themselves to the warm colours that cover El Gouna’s architecture.

Bustani sometimes - admittedly - likes to be unpredictable with her approach, like how she did with the openings and arches at New Marina. “They just looked like beautiful simple things that we pass by each day and make us wonder and stare,” Bustani says. This approach presents itself again in the image of a ladder. “It gave me a feeling that it led nowhere,” Bustani explains. “There was so much going on under it, cars, garbage bins, workers. But with my zoomed lens, I could capture a small fraction of the bigger picture.”

Emphasising her propensity for unexpected perspectives, Bustani describes her mindset behind her photograph of the vaults in the Gouna Conference and Cultural Center, saying, “It looked to me like a macro camera zoomed in on muscles, like, actual anatomy of muscles.” If you let your mind loose, even the hall that hosts the biggest events and celebrities can look like the inside of a human calf muscle.

Not every photograph needs a story behind them. Some are captured simply because the architecture and colours are pleasing to the eye. Many seek grasping the bigger picture and often miss the little things which usually host the most beautiful of details. Bustani’s personality is reflected in her photography. “I believe I am a minimal person,” Bustani says. “Active and chaotic, like I really never sit down or relax. But when it comes to my mindset, less is more.”