Yasmin Tajik couples her career with educating others

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Yasmin Tajik sits in her Fountain Hills home surrounded by camera equipment. Photo backdrops, prints and white gloves are strategically placed around her dining area.

But there is more to Tajik than photography and her business, Yasmin Tajik Fine Art Prints. She took her company and mixed it with her humanitarian spirit to capture stories while giving back through the sale of each print.

A first-generation Pakistani American, Tajik gives a portion of her proceeds from her art sold to charities.

“When the world looks away, I prefer to pull out my camera,” Tajik says when describing her documentarian-style photography.

“I understand the privilege I have as an American woman. I use this privilege to highlight the marginalized in our world and tell their story. It’s through story where we can relate to and see our similarities. These similarities lead to unity.”

Prints are all original photographs taken by Tajik and start at $375 for a 16-by-24. The size range goes up to 40 by 60 and can be purchased framed or unframed. All prints can be purchased at yasmintajikprints.com.

A former 17-year Las Vegas resident, Tajik is a self-taught photographer who felt a need to shift her photography focus toward highlighting social causes and bringing awareness to humanitarian issues.

She began her photography career as a Las Vegas pet photographer. She loved the work—and it was a true learning experience—but strived for more.

“I was learning how to run a high-end boutique photography studio,” she says. “I got to a point where I felt like my skill level was up to par and I decided to open my own studio. That is Shalimar Studios, and that basically focuses on family portraits and events.”

Six years ago, inspired by National Geographic, she sat down with her mother and said she needed to do more with her photography. Her parents are Pakistani immigrants.

“As you can probably tell from the décor, I’m still very connected to my heritage,” Tajik says. “I was raised with both cultures. I was pointing at things to my mom and telling her this is the type of work I really feel drawn to doing.

“It wasn’t long after that I came across this organization that combined travel with giving back for photographers. So, I did a trip to Thailand, and it was an all-women’s trip. I was one of six who were selected from all around the United States. We went to Northern Thailand, and we taught photography to girls who were being rescued out of sex trafficking.”

She says it was great because she and the other photographers empowered the girls and showed them the world matters.

“I was blown away by how these girls were photographing just their immediate environment and how they were cropping things in.”

Tajik calls it “documentary photography,” and she’s heavily focused on women’s issues like sex trafficking and gender equality. She enjoys blending trips with photography.

“Doing the documentary type of work, I could go on a trip with my photography girlfriends and I could create a project out of that at the same time,” she explains. “What was great is we did a trip to Iceland, and it was beautiful.

“Our trip happened to fall on a day called Women’s Day Off. It’s this big event that happened in Iceland that stresses equal pay. They actually have a law enacted in Iceland that, for any company that has 25 or more employees, they have to prove they’re paying men and women the same for the same job, which is really fantastic.”

On the trip, Tajik interviewed local women and photographed them, learning their stories and what their thoughts were on equal pay.

Nat Geo picked up a story and rare footage of a leopard leaping out of a tree down onto an impala and making a kill.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down that portion of her business—she hopes temporarily. Producing prints of her work has become a COVID-19 project, she says.

“This is the perfect opportunity,” she says. “I have the time now to dedicate to getting a whole website set up and researching what type of prints I want to offer.

“The most important thing for me was finding charities to partner with, because I wanted to make it an extension of my documentary type of work where I’m advocating for something.”

Her charities and associated collections are American Wild Horse Campaign (the equine collection); Great Plains Foundation (wildlife collection) and S.A.F.E. Samburu (Samburu collection). Samburu is a tribe in Kenya with vibrant colors. S.A.F.E. Samburu works to educate women and girls about female genital mutilation, which is common there.

“I’m always thinking of different avenues when it comes to photography,” Tajik says. “I feel like the more I can tell stories about people and show the similarities, the more it’ll break down a lot of those barriers.”   

Yasmin Tajik Prints

yasmintajikprints.com

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