Sohaib: Model Kerry citizen
Having featured on billboards in Belfast, dressed as a centaur, a hitman, a painter and a soldier, Fergus Dennehy chats to engineer turned model in Tralee's very own Sohaib Syed, about his career and travelling the world.
Such is the wide range of his skillset and the sheer volume of new modelling photos in which he appears in on a daily basis, it's hard to pin Tralee native Sohaib Syed down to one particular tag or image.
Looking down through the portfolio of work on his 'Sohaib Syed Model' Facebook page, I see him in various different guises, such as a hitman, a lumberjack, a king, a gun wielding soldier and a soldier in the midst battle, complete with sword and armour to boot.
As I said, he's a little hard to nail down.
The line between his job as a full time engineer with 'Yelo Test Systems' in Belfast and his weekend 'hobby' as a model and as a photographer, is one that seems to blur more and more as time goes on, I mean, getting featured on a billboard or three in Belfast is enough to turn anyones head.
Having been born in Limerick and moved to Tralee, to quote him, "at a very young age", Sohaib has been modelling since back in 2013, ever since he volunteered to help out his two friends for a college project.
"I never even thought of becoming a model, it's just something that never crossed my mind but once I was in front of the camera on that first job, the nerves went away, and it was actually really enjoyable," he said, talking to The Kerryman on Thursday.
"Emma Rae and Oisín Vink, two friends of mine, they asked me to do a very standard fitness shoot where I just had to pose for the camera, various headshots and bodyshots and all that."
"They started posting these images in different groups on Facebook and they got a good reaction and from here on out.Different photographers started contacting me about different jobs and shoots and it's all been non-stop since then!" he laughed.
Since this humble introduction into what is now very much his comfort zone, Sohaib has used his modelling as his very own passport to new experiences. He has travelled to Slovenia, Poland, England and in the new year will be travelling to Malta. including an all-access exclusive wedding shoot onbaoard the SS Nomadic, the last White Star Line vessel in existence.
"I've been lucky enough to shoot with a number of photographers from all over the world, from places like South America and Eastern Europe. Modelling has given me so many new experiences and so many cool things that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to do," he said.
It would have been remiss of me not to ask Sohaib about the stereotypical image of a model as someone who spends his days posing with an endless stream of women in luxury cars in a some far off sunny location, but this is an image that Sohaib says doesn't tell the full story,
"There's certainly an upside to it," he laughed, "but it's certainly not as glamorous as everyone thinks," he continued.
Point and case, he refers back to what he refers as his "favourite ever shoot" but that he says was definitely a struggle to shoot, given the battle that they faced with the elements.
"My favourite shoot that I've done so far has to be the Norse/Viking shoot that we did last year. I was dressed all in leather armour with a sort of winter cape and a sword and it was in a battlefield type setting."
"I was all covered in blood and mud. It took fours hours to get this look just right. I remember too that it was dark and rainy and we were standing there for hours. For me, this helped to contribute to the look and feel of the scene."
"Some shoots can be easy of course, I've done a few that have been done in just under an hour. There's been some shoots though where you will start at 10 in the morning and you won't finish until maybe 6pm that evening. You're surving on rice cakes and water sometimes," he laughed.
While not the most lucrative business for him (he only gets paid for a certain number of commercial and sponsored shoots), Sohaib said that he would consider it a very successful career if he is able to continue doing what he is currently doing for years to come.
"To be honest, at the moment I am not working toward a particular goal. I'm just taking each shoot as it comes and enjoying the ride. I just want to continue doing as many creative and artistic shoots as possible, and of course, some fashion and commercial shoots thrown in as well for good measure," he chuckled.
"When it comes down to it, the thing that I love most about modelling is getting the chance to see some of the most of the most amazing places in the world and go and shoot there. I've met so many lovely people that I otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to meet. It's been a wonderful few years.
Sohaib Syed can be contacted for any photoshoots through his Fabook page at 'Sohaib Syed Model'