Silhouettes and City Streets at Fotofest

At Archway Gallery, Fikry Botros' poignant street scenes depict a city landscape from the ground up.

By Jenn Nguyen March 31, 2016

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"Unresolved Mystery"

Houston-based street photographer Fikry Botros showcases his most profound and vibrant images taken from Texas and abroad in his latest exhibition, Sidewalks, at Archway Gallery. Botros’ collection of work captures the streets in some of the world’s most beautiful cities, including Cairo, Burano and Paris, a city that captured the photographer’s heart as much as his lens.

“In [the Parisian streets] there are so many people sitting, watching, doing things—which gives me ample opportunity to shoot,” Botros explains. “People are used to cameras and don’t really react.”

And that is a key concept to Botros’ photography: to be of no influence to the scene and document moments that commonly unfold in our everyday lives.

“I want people to see something different in what we’ve all seen before, to see life through the camera that the eye might wouldn’t,” he says.

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Although Botros is an—what else?—oil and gas engineer by trade, he pursues his artistic passion of photography in his free time and has developed an illustrious portfolio that spans decades. Botros has been interested in photography ever since he was a young child, and took classes while at Rice University for deeper insight into the process of capturing movement.

It might be rather surprising for an engineer to also be a street photographer, but there is a connection between the two that makes it all the more enjoyable for Botros.

“Photography has an artistic side as well as a technical side,” he explains. “So it was a great balance for me as an engineer and as a way to express myself.”

Fortunately his job allows him to fly around the world and take photos of his beautiful travels, which ultimately “keeps [him] sane.”

“In the beginning, I was fascinated by the architecture of buildings and things like that, given my engineering background,” Botros says. “And then eventually I got into the human element of photography.”

Exhibit visitors are encouraged to think beyond the obvious and to question their initial reactions and beliefs upon seeing each photo. When asked which of his many compositions left the most profound impact on him, Botros recalls a snapshot he took in Istanbul that depicts a silhouette of a woman wearing an ambiguous veil. He caught himself making assumptions about the subject’s beliefs and piety, and then he realized—he doesn’t even know why she’s wearing the veil, or what religion she practices, if any at all.

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"Summer Breeze"

“I don’t know her,” Botros says. “She is beyond what I saw in the beginning. This could be any one of us. So before you start judging others [for their actions], you are most likely doing the same thing yourself. I saw my bias when I took this photo. If you start looking at things with open eyes, you’ll see that whatever you first thought isn’t necessarily so.”

Since photography is one of his greatest passions, Botros doesn’t intend on putting his 50mm camera down any time soon. He encourages people to pursue what makes them happy, just as he does, even if they have second thoughts about it. After all, life is all about balance and surprises—just like in Botros’ photographic work.

April 2–May 5. Opening reception Friday, April 2 at 5 pm. Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy St. 713-522-2409.

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