Ikram Abdulkadir evokes the warmth and nostalgia of old family photographs in her powerful work

The Malmö-based photographer discusses her route into photography and why her sister is her biggest inspiration.

30 November 2020

When Ikram Abdulkadir first started taking pictures on her Dad’s Nokia n95, at the time thinking it had “the craziest camera”, she tells us, it was her family members that provided most of the inspiration. Fast forward a couple of decades later to the present day, and Ikram still finds her family as interesting as she did as a child. “They’re still my favourite subjects,” she tells It’s Nice That, and in this way, the talented photographer we meet today explores such themes of family and its ties throughout her candid visual language.

Born in Nairobi, Ikram and her mother moved to Sweden when she was two years old. She grew up in the Malmö area of Rosengård, a place unfairly described as a no-go zone from time to time. “Growing up I didn’t really have the resources to explore my creativity,” she reflects. And it wasn’t until she was 16 or 17, when Ikram saved enough money to buy her first camera, that she really delved into the medium. It didn’t take her long to realise the wonders that photography can offer, and of course it helped that she possessed an inherent knack for it.

With camera in hand, Ikram began immortalising ephemeral moments that otherwise would have been forgotten about. Much of her work centres on nostalgia, and recreates a similarly warm hearted feeling as looking through old family albums, something she remembers doing fondly as a child. “I loved the vintage photo studio ones the most,” she thinks back, and in the same way, Ikram’s practice to this date projects the same kind of timeless love and joy depicted in family photography.

As Ikram’s photography has developed with time, it is the portrayal of women that continues to hold a particular fascination. Showing these women bathed in natural light, she attempts to immerse the viewer into the composition itself. In turn, creating a unique relationship between the onlooker and the subject in the photograph. Refreshing and intimate, Ikram’s subjects always appear relaxed and at peace, which further magnifies the sense of familiarity between the viewer and image.


Ikram Abdulkadir: We will meet in paradise (Copyright © Ikram Abdulkadir, 2020)

Arguably, it’s a personal touch spurred on by Ikram’s two main inspirations, one of which is Ikram’s younger sister. “She’s everything I wish I was at her age,” she says, “I’ve honestly never met anyone cooler.” Another key inspiration is a young Somali photographer Fadumo whom Ikram admires for her raw and natural aesthetic. “I don’t really know why, but her photos are so mesmerising to me.” Pulling all these creative avenues together, we can appreciate Ikram’s photography for being spontaneous yet highly considered at the same time.

She may be at the beginning of her career, but she’s well on her way to making the significant mark on the industry that we reckon she’s more than capable of. Last year, for example, she received a grant from Skånes konstförening to fund her first paid solo exhibition. The annual grant awards a sum of money to a young artist based in Skåne and marked a significant achievement in Ikram’s career thus far as “it was the first time I had the financial means to really create a project and it meant so incredibly much to me.” Curated by “the best curators anyone could ask for,” (shout out to Jari and Anna) the project allowed Ikram to finally see herself as an artist, culminating in the show titled We will meet in paradise which went on display earlier this year.

The show exhibited a series created specifically for it, documenting the experience of being a young Black, Muslim woman in Sweden. Photographing her younger sisters and friends to explore this underrepresented identity, the striking and empowering portraits highlight Ikram’s artistic flair as an emerging photographer. In other work, she’s been commissioned by Styleby Magazine, Sony Music Entertainment and Ozzy, just to name a few. As for the future, she’s currently working on a new issue of Sakina Magazine with Naima Bashir who is also the editor-in-chief of the publication by, and for young Muslim women in Scandinavia.

GalleryIkram Abdulkadir: We will meet in paradise (Copyright © Ikram Abdulkadir, 2020)

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Ikram Abdulkadir: We will meet in paradise (Copyright © Ikram Abdulkadir, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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