Samiyah Khan: Enlightening Photographs of Self and Liberation

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Photography

Mesmerizing, dramatic and inspiring are three adjectives of MANY I could use to describe Samiyah Khan’s hauntingly beautiful photographs (OK, there’s one more). Using her art as a source of self-expression and enlightenment, Samiyah seeks to understand the depths of the world around her by creating worlds never before seen.

Some of her photos are disturbing, others are light-filled and uplifting, but all are stunning. Samiyah began her journey as a fine art photographer at the age of 16, inspired by blessings, desolateness and everything in between. Highly symbolic, her photographs represent a range of emotion, concepts and intangible ideals.

“My images question depths of freedom and confinement,” she says. “With the use of balloons, clouds, body art and contrasting bold colors, I explore concepts of pursuing liberation, growing as an individual and accepting the self—a struggle I believe many encounter.”

The idea of freedom is obvious upon first glance of the title of the photograph below, called A Longing, Prolonged. Anyone living in cold regions of the world know exactly what it’s like to feel trapped inside during long winter months, waiting for the first big thaw of spring.


Cloaked in darkness, the woman in this photo is a symbol of imprisonment. Cold glass, a sturdy fence and trees waiting to ensnare act as barriers between the woman and the welcoming warmth of the sun. Her fingers are spread wide, similar to the branches on the trees, as if they are both desperately reaching toward the edge of the earth, where freedom and endless space take over.

To me, Blossom (seen below) is a story of a girl becoming a woman. Eyes closed, she takes in a deep breath, hands arched gracefully around her face as if to frame her youthful appearance and entry into adulthood.


Her head wrap appears stifling, and, frozen in time, she seems on the verge of grabbing the cloth to free herself from its oppressiveness. But its presence simply becomes all the more demanding, unfolding and expanding in a vibrant, rich red hue, going in and out of focus like a large silky tapestry.

Black creases seem to engulf the photograph near the top, turning the colors into swirly, smoky billows absorbing all light. The brilliant red of the cloth brings to mind the emotion of wild passion, and a fire that—once ignited—cannot be tamed.

Lastly, in Her Dancing Spirits, we see the sun’s rays streaming through a thick forest canopy like a spotlight and settling directly upon a young woman.


Her pose is classic and endlessly romantic. With one hand placed firmly on the tree, she arches her body and opens her face up to the glowing light of the sun—so in tune with nature, she almost seems to be a creature of the forest itself.

Whether this scene is from a dream, or simply taken from a looking glass showing a magical spirit born of tree and sunlight, the image itself is certainly fantastical and ethereal, and a beautiful example of Samiyah Khan’s art.

Of course we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of Samiyah’s portfolio, and there’s much more to be seen—so please, if you’ve enjoyed these images, do yourself a favor and check out the rest of her work as soon as possible.


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