“Behind the Lens” Photo-Journals
“Interpretations of Dance“
Nawfal Johnson Nur
“Taking ordinary subjects and creating unusual images from them is my ideal photography exercise, or ‘photography-maze,’” says Nawfal.
Nawfal’s background is not in photography or art, but he’s been a student of photography for over 40-years. He started his photography journey in his grandmother’s flower gardens, taking macro photographs of anything in that magical place, using his first SLR camera, a PENTAX K1000.
Nawfal graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, in 1990, with a Master of Community & Regional Planning. He spent some time working in City Planning and Computer Software while living in Lincoln.
In 1994, Nawfal and his family moved to Malaysia. “Most people think that moving across town is a chore; well, try moving you and your ‘stuff’ halfway around the world, that move for us was a gargantuan task!”
Abstract Expressionism is a painting style that Nawfal loves, and he tries to merge the feeling of this style when he does any Abstract Photography. Nawfal’s favorite Abstract Expressionist painter is Jackson Pollock, and in a way, Nawfal’s “Alien Water” photographic series is influenced by Pollock’s paint splatters.
Getting in close is something that Nawfal tends to gravitate toward. “I must fill the scene with the subject when working on macro photography – the closer the better!”
Nawfal was inspired by many photographers, but New York Commercial Photographer, Carl Fischer, is the one that comes to his mind first. “I had no idea that many of the magazine photographs from ESQUIRE and LOOK magazines I marveled at in my youth were Carl Fischer’s,” said Nawfal.
“I fostered a respect for his professionalism and creativity as a photographer and his work was quite inspiring for me. I can probably attribute my fascination with Special Effects Photography to Fischer.”
Nawfal says that two photos by Fischer are especially memorable for him: Andy Warhol drowning in the can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (1969); and, another important Fischer image is of world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in 1967, as the martyred St Sebastian. In the 60’s, these photos took 3-days to complete, and all done by hand – no computer manipulation: Totally amazing.
Other artistic influences include the Abstract Expressionism painters, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and Piet Mondrian. Nawfal’s Photographers-of-influence did not photograph the same subject matter as Nawfal, but Nawfal’s favourites are Arnold Newman and Richard Avedon.
In 1998, Nawfal started shooting freelance: His first assignment was writing and photographing a story for Standard Chartered Bank’s gold card magazine, rightly called, GOLD. For this assignment, Nawfal had to become familiar with and compile an understanding of the ancient Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam.
Over the years, Nawfal has worked on many photo-essays, focusing on Malaysian cultural subjects such as Malay weapons, antiques, jewelry and ethnic dance. Nawfal has published feature stories in GOLD, BLADE, Dance Teacher Now and Dance Spirit magazines. Nawfal has also shot many dance and stage productions for local dance companies.
Lately, Nawfal has been working on Still Life and Abstract Fine Art Photography, and he now sells prints through Imagekind, ( http://nawfalnur.imagekind.com/), here you can see and buy his Art Photography. He has also started shooting Stock Photography for http://Arcangel.com/ . He has a few selections currently available for ‘rights managed’ usage: at the site, do a name search for Nawfal Johnson to see what work is available.
In 2007, Nawfal was a participant in the, “This Planet” Photography Project, where photographers from around the world took photographs in their region, all at the same time. For Nawfal in Penang, he took his photograph at 10:07 pm. You can see the preliminary website for this project, here.
In 2008, Rock & Roll Band, MILLION DOLLAR RELOAD (aka., Million$Reload, and M$R) contacted Nawfal regarding artwork for the cover of their new album. In Oct 2008, M$R cut their new album/CD, “Anthems of a Degeneration”, for worldwide distribution. You can see the album cover and hear some of their songs at their website:
In April 2009, Nawfal photographed at a charity concert, capturing performance images of Malaysian artists, Mawi, Stacy, Ahli Fiqir and Mila. Some of these images can be seen here:
Nawfal published a Black & White photography collection called, SHELLS & SANDSTONE, on 11 March 2010. This is a photography collection of shells and sandstones that Nawfal collected from beaches around Penang Island, Malaysia. These photographs were created in 2009 and 2010. The publication link for this project is :
On 30 September 2011, Nawfal published his soft-cover book, Ethereal Dreams & Hope: a Photographic Collection with Words to Boost Your Spirit. Nawfal delves into how chronic pain, such as arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) in his case, can affect your life. He also covers the basic principles and circumstances of Depression. Nawfal reveals how AS is linked to depression and ways depression has affected his life. The book has 136 pages, exhibits 34 of Nawfal’s Smoke-Art photographs, and includes inspirational hope quotations and Nawfal’s reflections and thoughts on the hope quotations.
Purchase a copy at this link!
In October, 2011, Nawfal photographed a dance review called, “Dancing to Connect,” featuring New York dancer, Sean Scantlebury, of The Battery Dance Company, and accomplished Malaysian dancer, Lorna Hoong. Through the photographs he created during that performance, Nawfal created the “Interpretations of Dance Thru the Lens,” photo-blog. Nawfal also created a dance eFolio also called, “Interpretations of Dance.” (October 2011).
Also in October 2011, Nawfal had several photographs published in a new book published by Lark Books (New York: NY), FOCUS: REFLECTIONS: Your World, Your Images.
On 4 November 2011, Nawfal published the Third Edition (eBook Version) of his Photography Art and ‘Self-Help’ book, Ethereal Dreams & Hope: a Photographic Collection with Words to Boost Your Spirit. This book contains 34 of Nawfal’s Smoke-Art Photographs, along with words of encouragement for those who suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis and Depression.
Nawfal’s CLOUDS: COLLECTION ONE, eFolio was published on 16 December 2011. This is Nawfal’s first really serious look at Cloud Photography. This eFolio contains 13 Black & White images of clouds that Nawfal photographed in Penang Island, Malaysia. One of Nawfal’s main goals for this group of images was to capture full tonal ranges in each image: from the darkest blacks, to the brightest grays, and while still keeping some details in the bright highlights.
The sales and preview link for CLOUDS COLLECTION ONE, is : http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/clouds-collection-one/12311275
A continuation of the CLOUDS series is CLOUDS – COLLECTION TWO. It is a new series of 15 black & white images of cloud formations. The main motivation behind the CLOUDS collections, Nawfal says, “Is to capture the clouds’ fleeting moments, capturing highly contrasty, stormy cloud formations that reproduce vibrantly in ultra-wide shades of gray.” All of the clouds in the two collections were photographed in Penang, Malaysia.
CLOUDS – COLLECTION TWO, BY NAWFAL JOHNSON NUR, PUBLISHED ON 18 JAN 2012, is available at :
On 20 June 2012, Shingo Tokihiro published a new book exhibiting his Japanese costumes, of which two of Nawfal’s photographs of the costumes are in Shingo’s book, titled “Soul in Costume.”
Shingo Tokihiro, Japanese Costume, Photo by Nawfal Johnson Nur – 2011, in “Soul in Costume”.
Shingo Tokihiro, Japanese Costume, Photo by Nawfal Johnson Nur – 2011, in “Soul in Costume”.
Recently, Nawfal published a new E-Folio photography book titled, ALIEN LANDSCAPES. This is available for purchase at LULU.com: here is the store’s link — http://www.lulu.com/shop/nawfal-johnson-nur/alien-landscapes-an-e-folio-photography-collection/hardcover/product-22735050.html/
All in all, Nawfal, when he picks up a camera, any camera, his main goal is to create better photographs than the last time he picked up the camera, and that’s not such a bad goal to have.
Thank you for your visit!
Updated on 1 Aug 2016.
Updated 29 September 2017
Nawfal Johnson Nur
Georgetown, 10400, Penang, Malaysia
Art Photography: nawfalnur/imagekind.com
Photography Blog: smokephotographist.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn Profile: my.linkedin.com/in/nawfalsmokephotographist/
Headshot & Portraiture Portfolio: https://smokephotographist.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/portraiture-fashion-dance-and-stage-photography-by-nawfal-johnson/
PHOTOGRAPHY: Nineteen years Freelance Photography experience for local and international clients.
Darkroom Manager: Roger Bruhn Photography, Lincoln, Nebraska (USA).(1988 – 1989).Creating archival architectural photographs for the Nebraska State Historical Society and Historic Preservation Department.
PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIALTIES: Editorial Features Photo Essays, Photographs of People, Portrait Head Shots, Dance and Stage Photography, Studio Still Life Photography, Abstract Expressionism, Colour Field Photography, Studio Lighting, Macro Still Life Photography.
PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINER: Appointed Abstract Photography Trainer for the First Photography Academy, Penang. Conducted photography workshops for high school students.
PHOTOGRAPHY & ART SKILLS: digital photography, fine art photography, portrait & headshot photography, studio photography & lighting, blogging, features photography essay, Photoshop CS6, Paint Shop Pro X6, PhotoImpact X3, Microsoft Office 2010, Picasa, PhotoFiltre 7, Topaz plugins, black & white chemical darkroom processes & printing, Folio and E-Folio construction and publishing.
Contributor to several international magazines, including GOLD, BLADE, Dance Teacher Now, and Dance Spirit magazines, as well as, photographic works published for commercial purposes, in books, trade publications, and newspapers.
- Creator of nearly 2,500 fine art photography images, positioned for sale using ecommerce solutions.
● Created photography for Italian designer, BOGLIOLI MILANO: “Thank you very much Nawfal, it was a pleasure for us too. Many thanks again and hope to work together again in the future!” ~ Maria Colamonaco for the Italian Fashion Press Office, Karla Otto Milano – for Milan Fashion Week, 2015.
● “Your photos are delicate and beautiful, and I like your presentation, clean and simple.” ~ Norunn Molsæter – International Artist. ~
Photography Representation: ARCANGEL.com (Since 2016).
- Featured as one of only six photographers at the Digimarc, ‘MyPictureMarc’ Gallery website – (2005-2010).
- Group Exhibition. Theme – “Winter”. Publication: FSTOP Magazine – November & December 2006.
- “Abstracts 2007” Exhibition. Theme – “Abstracts”. Photos & Art.Com.
- “Alien Water, v.149, Edit E.” Exhibition and Display. Deck the Walls,
- Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. February 2007.
- March 2017: Solo Exhibition—”My Life with Ankylosing Spondylitis” Photography Exhibition, St. Giles —The Gardens Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- May 2017: Solo Exhibition—”My Life with Ankylosing Spondylitis” Photography Exhibition, The EVOLVE Concept Mall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
WRITING & ENGLISH:
- Taught English for two years to adult learners, and developed lesson plans for the class. The classes were taught at the non-profit, Nor House, in Balik Pulau, Penang.
- Created, wrote, or collaborated on nearly 40 published works.
Eighteen years Exams Centre Management of Professional Qualifications and Off-campus University Exams, for DEAKIN University – Australia, with the Exam Centre located in Penang, Malaysia.
- Proctoring of exams, communication and coordination of exams with DEAKIN University, exam security, staff training, venue rental negotiations, exam standards adherence, managing all money and invoicing aspects, conflict resolution, incident report writing, exam room setup and exam execution, contingency planning, exam paper inventory, and exam returns.
- Conducting professional Australian associations’ CPA and engineering exams, and university exams for DEAKIN University.
ELECTED & VOLUNTEER POSITIONS:
President – Islamic Foundation of Lincoln, 1992, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
Secretary – Islamic Foundation of Lincoln, 1991, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Master of Community & Regional Planning (MCRP).
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bachelor of Arts (Major in History and Minor in English Literature).
Academic Societies: Tau Sigma Delta (Graduate School Scholastic Society for Architecture). Alpha Lambda Delta Scholastic Society. Phi Eta Sigma Scholastic Society. Superior Scholastic Achievement Status as an undergraduate.
American Photography Association ~ Member, 4 Years.
INTERESTS: Photography, Art Appreciation, Art History, Abstract Drawing (Pen Art), Writing, PDF Publishing, Land Use, Population Growth, American Civil War History, Ancient Roman History, Ancient Greek History, E-Folio Design, Movies, Urban Planning, Food Security Issues, Macro-View of the World, Genealogy.
LANGUAGES: English (Native Speaker); Spanish (limited working proficiency); Malay (limited working proficiency).
Being chosen as a Pioneer Photography Blogger for the new camera manufacturer, Light.co, which uses innovative multi-apertures and lenses in their camera design. October 2015.
Featured Photographer at DIGIMARC.COM Website from 2005 to 2010. DIGIMARC Corp. January 2005 to 2010.
“This Planet ” Worldwide Project. World Wide Web Photography Project, 2007.
“The Millennium Photo Project, ” 2000. To record the events on December 31, 1999: photographs collected and published in the book, Dawn of the 21st Century: The Millennium Photo Project.
PUBLICATIONS: Photography and Writing Publications.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. LIGHT STREAKS IN ORDERED CHAOS—Vol. 1. A Folio Photography Collection. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2016. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. ALIEN LANDSCAPES: An E-Folio Photography Collection. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2016. Print.
Advertisement photography for Italian designer, BOGLIOLI MILANO—An advertisement-invitation photograph for the 2015 Milan Fashion Week. Print.
Khor, Carolyn, and Nawfal Johnson Nur. “A tale of two towns: Cherok Tok Kun and Kajang.” A tale of two towns: Cherok Tok Kun and Kajang Withstanding the onslaught when the heat comes to town. http://news.malaysia.msn.com/community/a-tale-of-two-towns-cherok-tok-kun-and-kajang?page=4 (accessed June 25, 2014). Nawfal Johnson was the Photographer for this article.
Sibyls – Oracle, is a limited edition book (5,000 copies) by Shingo Tokihiro, and Photography Contribution was by Nawfal Johnson Nur (p. 51), (10 / 2013). Tokyo, Japan. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. Penang Trees – an Abstract Expressionistic Photography Point of View. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2012. This is an E-Folio of 18 art photographs.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. BENDING SPACE. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2012. This is a fine art, abstract photography E-Folio collection of 15 colour images.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. CRACKED, CHIPPED, AND ROUGH. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2012. This is an E-Folio collection of 15 Black & White art photographs.
Tokihiro, Shingo, and Nawfal Johnson Nur. Soul in Costume: Lyric. Tokyo, Japan: Shingo Tokihiro, 2012. Nawfal Johnson Nur was a Contributing Photographer for this book, and his photographs are published on pages 76, 77, and 90. Tokyo, Japan. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. CLOUDS – COLLECTION TWO. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2012. CLOUDS – COLLECTION TWO is an E-Folio of 15 images: It is a series of black & white art photographs.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. CLOUDS: COLLECTION ONE. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2011. This is an E-Folio photography series of 13 black & white fine art photographs.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. ETHEREAL DREAMS & HOPE: a Photographic Collection with Words to Boost Your Spirit. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2011. This is a fine art book that incorporates Smoke Art fantasy photographs along with ‘Hope’ quotations. The intention for this publication was to give support to other people who have suffered with chronic pain and clinical depression. It is a publication that was meant to delight the eye, and also, to be useful for people to change their thinking about their own chronic pain and feelings of hopelessness. Print.
Sterling Publishing Co., Editors of Lark Crafts. Your World, Your Images FOCUS REFLECTIONS. New York, NY: LARK: An Imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2011. Nawfal Johnson Nur was a contributing photographer for this book and his images appear on the front cover, the inside cover, the back inside cover, and on pages 16 and 26. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. ETHEREAL DREAMS (2011) CALENDAR. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2011. 2011 Fine Art Calendar. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. SHELLS & SANDSTONE. Penang, Malaysia: Nawfal Johnson Nur, 2010. These images were created between March 2009 and January 2010. All of the shells and sandstone in this E-Folio publication are from Penang beaches.
Cover Art for MILLION DOLLAR RELOAD’S album / CD – Anthems of a Degeneration. MILLION DOLLAR RELOAD, October 20, 2008. I was commissioned to do the photography of the cover art for the British Rock Band, MILLION DOLLAR RELOAD. My photograph was used as the cover art on their album / CD – “Anthems of a Degeneration” (2008). Print.
Hor, Daniel, and Lim Nee Ean. KDU Route to a Swiss Degree. Penang, Malaysia: STAR PUBLICATIONS, 2002. Nawfal Johnson Nur’s advertising photograph accompanies the story. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCE.” PTN, October 2000. Features Photo Story. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Prita Nambbiar.” Arangetram Brochure, a dance publication, no. 1 (2000): 1-6. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Prabha Rajagopal.” Arangetram Brochure, a dance publication, no. 1 (2000): 1-6.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Colorful and Historic Malay Dance.” Penang Travel Guide, no. 2 (2000): 1. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Bharata Natyam Dance – Feature Photo Essay.” Penang Travel Guide , no. 2 (2000): 1. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “The Historic Keris in Malaysia.” Penang Travel Guide , no. 2 (2000): 1. Print.
STAFF, KDU, and Nawfal Johnson Nur. KDU STUDENT HANDBOOK. Penang, Malaysia: KDU, 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Telling Tales of the East.” Dance Teacher Now Magazine, October 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “DANCING INTO THE LIGHT.” GOLD magazine, July 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Ancient Enlightenment: Bharata Natyam Dance of India.” Dance Spirit magazine, July 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “The Riddle of the Elusive Kris.” BLADE: THE WORLDS’S #1 KNIFE PUBLICATION, June 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “THE GOLDEN YEARS.” GOLD Magazine, April 1999. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “THE SACRED SWORD.” GOLD Magazine, July 1998. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Planning Recommendations to Deal With the Crisis of Hunger and Food Supply with an Examination of the Situation in Chile and Peru.” Lincoln: Department of Community & Regional Planning , no. 1 (1992): A book published by the Department of Community & Regional Planning, the University of Nebraska. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “GROUNDWATER QUALITY IN LANCASTER COUNTY, NEBRASKA.” GROUNDWATER IN LANCASTER COUNTY, LINCOLN, NEBRASKA , no. 1 (1990): A book published by the Lincoln & Lancaster County, Nebraska, Planning Department. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. 1990. Planning For Land Acquisition In Areas With Limited Land Space In Southeast Asia: With Emphasis On Singapore And Penang Island, Malaysia. Master’s Thesis. University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “WORLD HUNGER: WITH A SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON THE COUNTRIES OF TROPICAL SOUTH AMERICA.” University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Department of Community & Regional Planning , no. 1 (1990): A Social Planning Study. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “An Outline Development Plan For Uni-Pak and Environs.” University of Nebraska, Department of Community & Regional Planning , no. 1 (1989): A Regional Planning Study. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Integrating the Components of Downtown Lincoln.” University of Nebraska – Lincoln Community & Regional Planning Department , no. 1 (1989): A Regional Planning Study. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “Nebraska Planning Commissioners Handbook.” Nebraska Planning Commissioners Handbook , Vol 1. 1 (1989): 300. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson. “FUTURE LAND USE NEEDS: HOW IT WILL AFFECT COLVILLE BY THE YEAR 2020.” A Planning Study Prepared for the City of Colville, Washington & the Citizens’ Task Force , Vol 1 (1989): 50. Print.
Nur, Nawfal Johnson [Johnson, Troy], “THE HOUSE.” NATIONAL POETS’ ASSOCIATION ANTHOLOGY. The United States. 1981. Print.
2016—”Odissi Behind the Curtain ” – has been selected as an All Time Editor’s Pick in BetterPhoto’s 20th Anniversary “All Time Best” Contest!
2016—”Dragonfly Portrait ” – has been selected as an All Time Editor’s Pick in BetterPhoto’s 20th Anniversary “All Time Best” Contest!
2016—”CST, v19 ” – has been selected as an All Time Editor’s Pick in BetterPhoto’s 20th Anniversary “All Time Best” Contest!
2007—Curators Choice Award: “Abstracts” Exhibition, online at PhotosandArt.com.
2007—Second Prize: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Close-up/Macro. Photo Title: “Dragonfly Portrait.”
2005—Second Prize: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Special Effects. Photo Title: “CST, v19.”
2005—Finalist Prize: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Places. Photo Title: “Kompleks Islam Al-Bukhary.”
2005—Second Prize: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Special Effects. Photo Title: “Recipe for Pi.”
2005—Finalist: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Digital Darkroom. Photo Title: “Ingredients of Life.”
2004—Finalist: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Close-up/Macro. Photo Title: “Gumballs & Glass, v26a.”
2004—Finalist: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Special Effects – Photo Title: “Executive Toy, v1a.”
2004—Finalist: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Digital Darkroom – Photo Title: “Pipe-9-iC Spikes.”
2004—Second Place: BetterPhoto.Com (USA): Monthly Theme – Blue – Photo Title: “Odissi Behind the Curtain.”
2000—First Place: The International Library Of Photography (USA). Nature – Photo Title: “Caterpillar-No.1.”
2000—Time Capsule Award: “The Millennium Photo Project.” Toronto, Canada. Photo Title: “Lion Heads.”
1999—Honorable Mention: The International Library Of Photography (USA).
1999—Honorable Mention – Passed 1st Inspection: “The 3rd International Internet Photography Contest,” Japan. (Two Photos). Photo Titles: “Lipstick Cooler-v2” & “The Old Man of the Rocks.”
1990—First Place: “Cultural Angles Photo Contest.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA).
1990—Second Place: “Cultural Angles Photo Contest.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA).
1989—Second Place: “Cultural Angles Photo Contest.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA).
1989—Honorable Mention: “Cultural Angles Photo Contest.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA).
1987—First Place: “KINSA” – Kodak International Newspaper Snapshot Awards, Regional Level (USA).
1983—Honorable Mention: “National Journalism Write-Offs Competition.” Photojournalism Category. Chicago, IL, USA.