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Early in the morning of August 8th at the Marriott West Hotel in Madison, I gathered with a group of seven other people. Our team was in Madison, WI, to capture the beauty of the Muslim community during the Eid al-Fitr on camera. Despite the early hour, we were all ready and excited about the event. The plan was to gently approach women and families to invite them to the location where Nic and Dominique had staged their camera setting. First, we would briefly explain the project and then to invite them to the stage, and lastly, we would have them write their name and email on a white board for verification and authorization.

Nic and Dominique had already set up the stage. The stage included a very long white paper that served as a backdrop to provide a clean background. There were also two giant black umbrellas attached to two bright lights.

We approached mostly women. When men began to notice that we were being biased in our invitation, they tried to take the situation into their own hands. Some of them came directly to Nic, asking him to have their pictures taken. To show respect and gain their trust, Nic appeased them and took their pictures wholeheartedly.

As people started getting to used to us being in their midst, they approached us to have their photos taken. Things got rather busy and at one point we had people standing in line waiting to have their pictures taken.

We had to stop our work during the time of prayer. When the prayer ended, people were rushing out of the large spacious rooms of Michigan and Superior to greet one another. In this rush of people, we realized that we were facing a tricky moment.

Our camera was staged between male and female prayer areas. Paanteha and Mona, two other members of our team, had to stand between the stage and the crowd to make room for Nic to work. Luckily, they were women; Muslim men didn’t want to have contact with them, making the task a bit easier.

Everything was over by 10 AM. We were able to clean the area and clear the space shortly thereafter.

Everybody was so happy and full of energy afterwards. I believe our photo is proof of this.

Josh Barnard:

Being a part of this year’s Eid al-Fitr celebration was an experience like none I’ve had before. I have to admit that I was quite nervous at first as we were setting up our photo booth. The early comers seemed a bit confused about what we were doing, and I worried that our project would not be as well received as we had hoped. These fears were soon put to rest, however, as more and more people began to arrive. The collective excitement began to increase, evidenced by the hectic state of the booth. But due to the positive energy and kindness of everyone there, not once did I feel overwhelmed. Many came away impressed, and all were very supportive of our work. My only regret is that I was unable to witness the Salat al-Eid, so I’ll have to find a way to attend next year’s celebration!

Nicholas Wynia:

I feel that by letting people present themselves how they pleased rather
than being over stylized we gave them the power and initiative to express
how they felt about having their photo being taken. Although a bit awkward at
times the men and women seemed very proud and happy to show their unique
style of dress.

I believe the photographs evoke a certain authenticity that
demonstrates the project is about communicating artistry, style, and
community pride rather than commercial fashion and money.

Paanteha Kamali:

Muslim and Fashion. Those words couldn’t be next to each other in my mind until I observed this year’s Eid al fetr. I was at the Marriott Hotel helping my friend for her project. There, I observed how Muslims were dressed with an amazing sense of art and fashion. Those Muslims looked beautiful, adorable, happy and proud. When I invited them to come to the photo shot area, they were thankful and excited.

After August 8th, I can imagine those two words of Muslims and fashion as a collective words, not separate imaginations. Now, not only I would like to invite my friends to view pictures (soon to be published) on the website, but also I am inspired to learn how to dress like them.

 Mohammad:

I had never participated in a ceremony like that in Iran, since I have never been a religious person. That being said, I was really excited to observe Eid al-Fitr in Madison. I believe it was a fantastic ceremony. I ran into different people from different countries who prayed together to thank God. They were all friendly with each other. More importantly, I was flabbergasted by the colorful dresses and clothes people put on.