In the heart of Balochistan, where rugged terrain meets the vibrant spirit of its people, a photographer has emerged to reveal the hidden gems of this captivating, underdeveloped, and war-torn region. Balochistan, a land marked by both physical beauty and cultural richness, has been the muse of Kamanchar Baloch for over a decade. Through his lens, he encapsulates the essence of Balochistan’s landscapes and the daily realities of its inhabitants, creating a visual narrative that intertwines beauty and struggle. Now, facing his own battle with health issues, Kamanchar embarks on a new journey, showcasing his art to the world while seeking support for his urgent medical treatment.
A Visionary Photographer
Born in Tehsil Mand of Balochistan’s Kech district on November 25, 1998, Kamanchar Baloch discovered his passion for photography amidst a backdrop of unexplored beauty and untold stories. Initially capturing moments on his humble mobile phone, Kamanchar’s thirst for highlighting the soul of Balochistan urged him to transition into professional photography in 2015. Speaking to The Balochistan Post (TBP), he expressed his unwavering determination to showcase the beauty and struggles of his homeland, even in the face of limited interest in photography within the region.
Regarding his interest in photography, Kamanchar told TBP that fifteen years ago he used to have a mobile phone, and from that time, he had this interest. At that time, his desire was to record something from somewhere and convey it to people. During that time, he had been to many places and had captured many stories and fascinating sights. The hobby is still growing rather than diminishing, he said. “Now this hobby has reached this place, where I consider it a responsibility niow,” he added.
When asked if it is easy to practice art in Balochistan, Kamanchar responded: “There are many artists in Balochistan, and as many problems they face. The biggest problem of Baloch artists is poverty because our people, including the government, are unfamiliar with artists. On the other hand, our society still lacks an understanding of the importance of its artists and doesn’t encourage or support them. An artist in Balochistan cannot make a living from their art because our people are still unfamiliar with art. I have heard from many people that “”it is nothing but a waste of time.”” They still don’t know how much a photographer has to struggle for a picture, how far he goes for a picture, and then the journey to find a view ends. If we want our society to have a golden tomorrow, we need to recognize the importance of our artists.“
Kamanchar’s artistic vision extends far beyond the breathtaking landscapes that adorn Balochistan’s horizons. His lens seeks out the poets, writers, and distinguished figures who shape the cultural fabric of the region.
Balochistan’s Cultural Heritage on Display
Kamanchar’s lens has traversed the length and breadth of Balochistan, capturing its landscapes: from the snowy mountains of Quetta to the beaches of Gwadar, and Makuran’s “princess of hope”; the culture: Nomadic lifestyle of Balochs, the detailed and significant embroidery by Baloch women, the Sawas and Balochi Chawat made by the Men, and the living conditions with touching accuracy. With an impressive coverage of 95% of Balochistan’s territories, he brings forth the vibrant colors, the resilience of its people, and the stark realities they face. Through his photographs, he unveils the harsh beauty that Balochistan embodies—a land scarred by war and strife yet brimming with untamed spirit and cultural diversity.
Balochistan is a land rich in natural resources but finds itself on the list of most underdeveloped regions in the world, marred by years of conflict and socio-economic challenges. Kamanchar’s photographs reflect the strength and determination of the people as they navigate the complexities of daily life amidst adversity.
TBP asked the photographer, being from a backward region like Balochistan, what difficulties he faced in becoming an artist.
He responded: I started photography in 2008 when I was young. I started photography in my native Mand, which I think is one of the most backward areas of Balochistan. Only an artist knows very well how an artist from a most backward area faces difficulties. I used to face many difficulties with photography, and I still don’t have the facilities I need for it. Photographers need facilities for photography, and they also need expenses during travel. I have thought many times about taking classes from a good institute so that I be more familiar with photography and take my work forward, but it is out of my reach as I have no sponsors. My father passed away in 2003, and I am a student now, my work is photography, and in this society, photography cannot support you financially.
Through his artistic vision, Kamanchar sheds light on the struggles and hardships faced by the residents of Balochistan. Poverty, displacement, and a lack of basic amenities become stark realities depicted in his photographs. Yet, amidst these difficulties, there is an undeniable spirit of hope and pride that permeates the frames. Where Kamanchar captures the torn huts of nomadic people of Balochistan, who live the most minimalistic life, he also sheds light on the poor children of Balochistan who hold great love for education and books. Through his lens, he shows the attachment of the people to music. By taking the most natural photos of the Balochi folk musicians playing Suroz (one of the traditional Baloch musical instruments), he tells us how these people make their own instruments and learn to play where there are no proper musical institutions in the entire region.
Kamanchar told TBP that he has not studied photography at any institution; he has always learned from his mistakes and is learning a lot with time in practice. “Photography is a great art, and I am still not good at it. My desire is to record something from somewhere and pass it on to my people. In photography, I am still an unqualified student,” he said.
The Balochistan Post asked Kamanchar where he gets his inspiration to create. He said, “In photography, every photographer is on a journey, each taking their work forward in their own way. Everyone has their own style, and in the same way, I see Balochistan from my perspective and capture its essence in pictures. Here, every artist has his own perspective, how he sees things, and how he finds a story in them.”
In your view, what is the importance of art like photography in society? TBP asked the artist.
He replied that photography covers all aspects of our society, capturing what is happening in our society and preserving it for the future. Society is like that, but images contain everything that is recorded. When responding to the question about the place of art in Baloch society, Kamanchar said in Baloch society, artists are not given the special importance they should be given. “Unless artists are given importance, art cannot give a bright future to this stifled society,” he added.
TBP asked Kamanchar why most of his work revolves around identity politics and Balochistan. He said, “I am a Baloch! I want all my pictures and videos to have the smell of Balochistan, and this smell to spread all over the world.”
Inspiring a New Generation
Kamanchar’s remarkable work has ignited a spark of inspiration among the youth of Balochistan, beckoning them to explore the world through the lens. His unique perspectives and unwavering dedication have set a precedent, encouraging aspiring photographers from all corners of Balochistan to capture their own stories. Through his generosity, Kamanchar shared his art freely on social media platforms, allowing others to download and use his images without restrictions. This act of openness has fostered a community of budding photographers, each armed with their own vision to unveil the hidden beauty and struggles of Balochistan.
The Urgent Battle for Health
Behind Kamanchar’s creative prowess lies a personal battle against a myriad of health issues that demand immediate attention. Stomach ailments, vision problems, diabetes, and physical weakness have cast a shadow over his artistic journey. Forced to confront these challenges, Kamanchar made the difficult decision to exhibit and sell his photographs to raise funds for his medical treatment. Though initially hesitant, he firmly believes that showcasing and selling his work will not only provide him with the necessary financial support but also pave the way for cultural appreciation and understanding of Balochistan.
Kamanchar’s decision to embark on this new chapter was met with both encouragement and skepticism. Some advised against it, fearing that the commercialization of his art would dilute its authenticity. However, Kamanchar remained resolute in his conviction that his photography could serve as a catalyst for change, not only in his own life but also for the artistic community in Balochistan.
TBP asked the artist that recently, you mentioned your health problem, and that is why you decided to sell your photos for the first time so that you can get treatment for your illness. Has there been any substantial help or offer?
Kamanchar: For the first few months, I was very sick. When I was sick, I was in misery. During this time, my health deteriorated daily, and I faced a life-and-death struggle. Yes, my friends were very worried that I might not survive. At that point, I had no other option. I needed money for further treatment, which is why I announced to sell my photos. When my health was not good, my friends and loved ones helped me, but I haven’t received any offer from the Balochistan government or any other officials.
Balochistan’s Call to Action
As Kamanchar Baloch faces his own health battles, the urgency to support him becomes paramount. His decision to showcase and sell his photographs not only aims to raise funds for his medical treatment but also serves as a clarion call to action. Balochistan’s photographers and artists are in need of a platform that not only appreciates their work but also provides them with the necessary resources and recognition to flourish.
TBP: Have you received any support or encouragement from the local administration or Balochistan government for your excellent work?
Kamanchar: No! I have been doing photography for the past fifteen years. I have taken more than seven thousand photographs in different areas of Balochistan, but till now, there has been no support or encouragement from the Balochistan government, and we are not allowed to take the work forward. No facilities have been provided. The Balochistan government is completely oblivious to artists.
As we delve deeper into Kamanchar Baloch’s world, we witness photography’s immense power to capture the truth and inspire action. Through his lens, Balochistan comes alive, revealing its rich cultural heritage, its breathtaking landscapes, and the indomitable spirit of its people. Kamanchar’s journey is a testament to the enduring beauty and struggle that coexist within Balochistan, and it is our responsibility to ensure that his artistry thrives.
Kamanchar’s Facebook account