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Manal has Her Eye on Her Dream

A snapshot into a dynamic opportunity women’s empowerment projects provide

 Original post at ANERA

Manal holds a video camera, filming a local wedding.

Manal is a passionate wedding photographer from the city of Nablus, in Palestine’s West Bank. She thinks of her profession as a way to bring joy to her clients and their families.

“If people are interested, I won’t decline an offer!”

At 50, Manal has been honing her craft for the last 25 years. She first discovered a love for photography through her husband, and swiftly mastered the basics. She soon felt in complete harmony with the camera.

After her husband died, she picked it up as a profession. In addition to weddings, she began filming other ceremonies like graduation parties.

She does the occasional photo shoot for individuals too. “If people are interested, I won’t decline an offer,” she says with a smile. She also enjoys photographing nature and beautiful scenery.

Manal photographing flowers.

“My old camera didn’t keep pace with a fast-moving digital world.”

In the old days, she used a camcorder with cassette tapes. Over the years, her video camera became outdated.

So she started to rent digital cameras from local studios, paying 150NIS ($43) each time.

Through Anera’s Women Can project, funded by Islamic Relief USA, Manal got two new cameras — a Canon 80D and a Panasonic AG-UX90. Owning her new gear has allowed her to net a substantially higher rate — 700NIS ($200) per event.

Manal has already covered 12 events since getting her new equipment in September.

A typical workday begins with charging her camera batteries, including backup batteries. “I get anxious if I run low on charged batteries while filming. I also make sure I have extra memory cards.”

She reviews her footage and photos with her customers and makes edits to the colors and lighting as needed. Manal likes to leave her customers with a present. She lets her clients select one photo from the set that she uses to create a large print that she frames and presents as a gift to each newlywed couple.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, work has declined. Manal is looking forward to the return of some degree of normalcy.

“I hope that life soon returns to a sweeter era, like before the virus. Work is life. My happiest moments are when I get a message of appreciation or a thank you letter from a just-married couple. It makes me feel so proud.”

Manal takes a photo of a young man posing by a car.

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