Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Man with the Keen Eye-Iqbal Jannif

HIS father worked his way up from being a shop assistant to a partner at F.W. Caine and Company.
Now, he is running the show.
Mohammad Ikbal Jannif, chief executive of the Caines Jannif Group, says his family came to be in the photography business through his father.
"My father was born in Levuka and came to Suva as a young boy of 10 years old," he said.
Mr Jannif said his father's uncle was working for F.W. Caine and Company.
It was through that family connection that Mr Caine offered his father a job at the shop.
He swept the floor, cleaned the windows and did all the small jobs around.
"My father was very hard working and through it, he became a partner with Mr Caine.
Then in the 1950s, he became the sole owner of the business."
He said Mr Caine started the business in 1904, which makes it more than 100 years old.
If it had not been for his first encounter with a fashion model in his early years for a photo shoot, Mr Jannif, who had been in the photography business from a very young age, would have continued as a fashion photographer.
He was a keen photographer from his early school years and used to love taking pictures.
He was very good with cameras which were being used by photographers in the 1960s.
"I started taking interest in photography during my days at Marist Brothers High School."
Recalling his days as a young photographer, Mr Jannif said his first assignment was to take pictures at a wedding.
"I can still remember.
"I couldn't drive then so I had to take a taxi.
"That was the days of large and very heavy 120-film cameras which took black and white pictures with each roll having 12 shots." He said with those cameras he had to change the film several times, especially at events such as a wedding ceremony.
"It wasn't simple as rewinding a 35mm camera.
"We had to take the roll of film out, shift the spool and insert another roll."
Mr Jannif said as he got used to handling the camera, it became easy to change film rolls and soon he was quite adept at it.
He could change a roll in less than 30 seconds but there were other experienced photographers who were able to change the film rolls in even lesser time.
Being a keen photographer from a young age, Mr Jannif took a break from his studies and spent some time taking photographs for post cards for Pacific Island countries such as American Samoa, Tonga and Western Samoa in 1967.
"The most exciting job I got was at the Regent Hotel when it was still new."
He said the assignment was to take photographs of a model for the Vogue magazine.
"After the assignment, I realised that I didn't want to be a fashion photographer.
"I just couldn't handle the temperament of the young lady (model)."
After he completed high school at Marist, Mr Jannif went to St Paul's College in New Zealand to complete his tertiary education and then to the University of Auckland.
He has been chief executive of the Caines Jannif Group since April 1985.
His interest in photography was at its peak during his young days and he said he loved to take photographs at tourist resorts for postcards.
"Slowly, it gave way as I became more desk-bound and now my wife is in charge of the photography section."
Mr Jannif said as much as he used to love photography, he doesn't really miss it but says there are times when he wishes he had a little more time in photography.
However, he said all that was in the past and people had to move on with their lives.
Mr Jannif said there have been a lot of changes in the area of photography with regards to improvement in technology but the changes have also brought some new opportunities such as the shift from black and white to colour films.
He said with the change in technology came the arrival of the more easy to use and manage 35mm camera with flash which attracted more people to engage in the photography industry.
With the advance in technology came the revolutions or changes in models by camera makers and they all made it so much easier to handle.
With the changes came the sizes and costs.
There are some cameras the size of a matchbox and some have large lens to capture everything in sight and not miss much.
From manual cameras to digital ones which changed films automatically, all were part of changes in time.
Mr Jannif said every change had two sides and the advancement in technology also had some disadvantages for the photography business.
"The shift to digital photography has a very major drawback and that is people are not retaining hard copies of images.
"Over the years, we have collected a huge number of black and white and colour negatives of images of events that we had covered.
"The negatives go back to the Caine library for collection.
"We have recent pictures such as that of the visit by Prince Charles, the University of the South Pacific graduation, Hibiscus festival and other events."
He said because Caines Jannif had kept negatives of events, they had helped to keep history on record.
"Today, with the digital cameras, pictures are taken and stored on computers, emailed and written on CD but no hard copies are kept.
"It makes me wonder what photographs of today will we be able to leave behind for the future generation.
"Where will the archives and museums get their images from of this period?"
Mr Jannif said there were a lot of young people and old photographers who were interested in photography.
"These days, the challenges in the photography business is not the same as what we had.
"Every glitch in photography can be fixed through the use of a computer while in the old days, none of this was available," he said.
He said photographers should try to make the best of the technological advances in the field of photography but they should keep in mind to keep hard copies of their images for the future generations.
They are history.
As of the man, Mr Jannif, many people remember him as the man with the beard and his camera taking pictures at parties, functions and sporting events.
Where you see him, the next thing you will see is the flash from his camera.
At one time, Mr Jannif was the best photographer in the country but with technology came the new generation of cameramen who had to learn the art with sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment capable of catching speed of light.
But Mr Jannif is from the old school where pictures were as original as can be.
Some of the things not many people know about Ikbal Jannif
His favourite food:
Nothing in particular.
I dont drink alcohol. I drink water, Soda Water if available, and kava.
Favourite quote:
I wasnt born yesterday.
That is what he normally tells his seven-year-old grandson, Nathan, when he tries to cover-up for his mistakes.
I read a lot and I like Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham. I like Archers As the Crow Flies and Grishams Rainmaker.
I like playing with my grandson which, for me, is a great pastime.
Dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Famous people he would like to meet:
I have visited Rome at an invitation from the Marist Brothers. I have been to the United States where I stayed with Billy Connelly, the comedian.
There is no one in particular I would like to meet in the world.
Motto in life:
Honesty, integrity and hard work.
I like to spend my free time with my two good friends Malcolm Harrison and Frances Chung.
We share and have a lot in common.