Hamby is a well-traveled photographer whose photos of ancient Middle Eastern architecture are on display until Oct. 24 at the Center for Contemporary Arts. Her works will also be shown Sept. 28 at ACU’s Shore Art Gallery from 7-8 p.m. where Hamby will make an appearance to speak about her photography and travels.
Hamby began traveling with her late husband, Kelly, who taught in ACU’s Department of Education soon after the two were married, but she has traveled more extensively in the last 15-20 years. In Hamby’s 45 years of traveling, she has been to all seven continents and over 100 countries, including Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. She also lived in Africa for 6 years and started the Zambia Medical Mission with her husband.
Hamby has had numerous exhibitions, both in Africa and in the U.S., but her current exhibition, entitled “Nabataean Ancient Structures: Jordan to Saudi Arabia” is her first show featuring photos of architecture. Her passion for photography began 15 years ago when she was inspired to document the lives of people around her.
“My main interest has always been people, not necessarily architecture,” Hamby said. “I love to connect with people and cultures, and I love to be able to show those and express those connections through my photography.”
Something that helps Hamby snap interesting photos on her trips is doing things that a typical tourist would normally not do.
“The kind of travel I do is kind of outside a lot of people’s comfort zones,” Hamby said. “I take buses and stay in local hotels; I have even stayed in a youth hostel and I’m 74 years old, but those are some ways I have really been able to see the world.”
Hamby says she becomes inspired to photograph when she meets locals in public places like bus stations and markets.
“By travelling in public transport and staying in local hotels that’s when you meet the interesting people to take pictures of,” Hamby said. “You’re documenting their lives, and the expressions on their faces say a thousand words. I’ve just always had a fascination and interest in that.”
When she comes to campus, Hamby plans to speak about her time spent in the modern Middle East. Hamby herself was in Syria at the time its civil war began and plans to discuss how the war has already destroyed and may destroy more rare structures.
“One of the main things I will speak about will be the war in Syria and the destruction of so many architectural ruins that are 2,000 years old,” Hamby said. “Several things I will show are no longer in existence, but I’m glad I was able to capture them in photographs not knowing that they were going to be destroyed.”
Hamby says she hopes her exhibition and presentation about Middle Eastern culture will educate gallery attendees about the importance of preserving history.
“This exhibition helps us to have an understanding of the world and see how important these things are to our history,” Hamby said. “Even though these structures are far removed from the United States, they’re still important to the world’s history.”
After her many years of travelling and documenting, Hamby has some advice for those wanting to pursue photography like she has.
“Don’t be afraid, if you really want to be serious about this,” Hamby said. “You’ve got to have confidence in yourself, which can be hard to do sometimes. Try to think of things that are your specialty. I focus on things that are dear to my heart and really mean a lot to me; being passionate about something usually makes for a good photograph.”
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