Mohammad Murad

Two Arabian red fox cubs, backlit to highlight their silhouettes and framed by colourful bokeh, photographed by Mohammad Murad on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

Framed by the glow of streetlights, two Arabian red foxes explore the night just outside their den. This image was taken in Doha, a seaside district of Kuwait City. "The colourful bokeh is street and car lights reflected in the sea. The rim light, or backlight, is two small continuous hand flashlights," explains wildlife photographer and Canon Ambassador Mohammad Murad. "I spent a long time gaining the trust of the animals." This image won several awards, including first place in the Baby Animals' category of National Wildlife Federation magazine's 2018 photo competition. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens at 1/50 sec, f/4 and ISO 3200. © Mohammad Murad

Mohammad Murad's story is a prime example of how it is never too late to find your passion. The wildlife photographer only started his professional career in 2015, aged 39, but in just eight years, he has built a reputation as one of the best photographers in Kuwait and beyond.

"Nobody knew me before 2015," says Mohammad. "I was a regular guy, I took my kids to school, I went to work. But now people know me because I love what I do."

Born and raised in Kuwait, Mohammad has strong memories of photography growing up. "My father would take photos and videos of us at home and when we travelled – I always remember him holding a camera," he says. After studying communications engineering at Kuwait University, Mohammad began a career in that field and worked for many years at Kuwait Television.

It was the support of family and friends, and the encouraging words of his mentor Mohammad Khorshed, that convinced him to follow his passion. "I joined Instagram in 2014, and started posting my shots online," he explains. "I got a lot of encouragement, so I started photographing small birds and anything in our garden. Then Mohammad Khorshed – a famous wildlife photographer, a legend here in Kuwait – got in touch and asked if I wanted to learn more about bird photography. He was like a brother to me. He taught me so much, and here I am."

A portrait of Canon Ambassador Mohammad Murad photographing a cheetah with a Canon camera.
Location: Kuwait

Specialist areas: Wildlife

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R3
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM
 A black and white photograph of a mother and baby elephant, captured by Mohammad Murad on a Canon EOS-1D X using a slow shutter to create a blurred effect.

This spectacular image of a mother and baby elephant in Tanzania showcases Mohammad's distinctive style. "Something about shooting with a slow shutter speed fascinates me," he says. "I'm talking about reinventing the scene, adding a touch of mystery to it – something to represent me. Photography is an art form that represents me well – every image that I take is like reinventing a part of myself." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 400mm, 0.3 sec, f/18 and ISO 50. © Mohammad Murad

After joining the Bird Monitoring and Protection Team at the Kuwait Environment Protection Society, Mohammad learnt how to find certain species and discovered how to anticipate animal behaviour. "The team really opened my eyes," he says. "They took me to places I had never been to before. When I finished work, I would take my camera and go to the desert, eat dinner there, and then come back late at night. Understanding the species that I am photographing has made my life so much easier."

Today, Mohammad is renowned for his dedication to his craft and a distinctive slow shutter style, which he combines with 'intentional camera movement'. "It's quite unique, so many photographers are afraid because they don't want to miss a shot," he says. "I always say I would rather miss a shot and take a unique picture than have the same picture that everyone else has."

An Arabian red fox cub silhouetted against a dark background and framed by large circular bokeh, captured on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II by Mohammad Murad.

Mohammad's award-winning images of the Arabian red fox have garnered international acclaim. "I spent more than two months with two dens for about four hours a day," he says. "With time, they started to come closer every day, and eventually they recognised my car. I documented their behaviour with videos, while they were licking the camera and flashes and my shoes. I had such a great time with them." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/4 and ISO 3200. © Mohammad Murad

His spectacular images of the Arabian red fox – captured using his signature style – have garnered international acclaim, and Mohammad has clinched several international wins at photography competitions including MontPhoto in Spain, and the Maria Luisa Photo and Video contest in Italy. "I followed two families of Arabian red foxes in 2017 for several months," he says. "I started photographing from when they were small cubs to when they were fully grown. The background is colourful bokeh showing the city of Kuwait. I remember one guy calling me from Europe to say I was the fox whisperer because of those shots. It felt great to be recognised in that way."

But for Mohammad, the fact that his children are proud of what he does is more satisfying than any award win. "I was an ordinary family guy," he says. "When an article was written about me, my daughters came home from school and said, 'We read about you in the newspaper'. At school, they were showing all their friends and saying, 'This is my dad, this is my father'. They asked me to pick them up from school that week and were introducing me to their friends. For me, that was the proudest moment I've had."

What's the most challenging element of wildlife photography?

"You must be very patient. This isn't like photographing humans; animals will do what they want. I have often travelled two hours from my home, stayed all day, and come back with nothing. This can go on for months. You also have to be tough. In Kuwait, the temperature can go up to 50°C and it's like sitting inside an oven. You must be able to handle this stuff. The desert is so hot, and a breeze will destroy your sensor because of all the dust and dirt. My most challenging aspect is the temperature and dust – we have eight sandstorms a month in Kuwait. Also, you have to accept and respect nature. Never bother an animal – photographers will know if you have stressed out an animal; we can recognise it in the behaviour of animals in images."

What's your most memorable wildlife experience?

"I recently travelled to Iceland with some other photographers, a trip which was six months in the making. I bought everything from outside Kuwait because we don't have clothes for those temperatures here. I prepared for the snow. I didn't want anything to challenge me, so I was well prepared, but then my bag was lost on the flight. The other photographers kindly lent me clothing, but it wasn't as good, understandably, because they needed their best kit too! My toes were freezing cold, and I couldn't go as far. I couldn't lie on my front for as long to get the shots, I had to stay closer to the hut. On the plus side, I got different shots to everyone else. With all this happening, it was the most exciting trip for me because of the warmth I received from the other photographers. The location is like heaven – unlike anything I've ever seen before – and I was overawed by everything."

What advice do you have for photographers wishing to follow in your footsteps?

"Start with gear you can afford. If you can't afford it, rent it. If you can't rent it, borrow it from friends or colleagues. When you start out in any hobby or job, if you feel like you are starting to make small achievements, people will notice you. If you love it and think you can do it, go for it. Don't be afraid to talk to people who inspire you. Stick to what you know. Just work, work, work, and things will come around. I know it's stressful now with social media – everyone wants to be recognised immediately, but it takes time."

What ambitions do you have that remain unfulfilled?

"I would love to teach, especially because we have very few resources in Arabic. If someone's English is not very good, they can't find what they need. I would like to teach non-English speaking people about photography, wildlife photography, the environment – everything I do. If I can translate that into Arabic and teach people about what I know, especially how to do wildlife photography in an artistic way, that would be great."

One thing I know

Mohammad Murad

"Never lose hope. There's always a second chance, if something goes wrong. Believe there is another shot coming, even if it takes longer than you expected. I always say to my kids 'don't lose hope, there is always another day, you can achieve so much'. Young people have lots of time to do lots of good things for themselves, for their families, for the world in general. And I started late in all this – so I'd say never lose hope."

Facebook: Mohammad Murad

Instagram: @moe_murad

Website: mohammadmurad.com

Mohammad Murad's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Mohammad Murad's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R3

The full-frame mirrorless EOS R3 can help sports photographers as well as those photographing wildlife to take their photography to the next level thanks to innovative Eye Control AF and a groundbreaking electronic shutter. "Animal eye tracking is just phenomenal to any wildlife photographer; it's hard to miss a shot with focus and tracking systems," says Mohammad. "The Eye Control AF is fast and unbelievably accurate. As a photographer, I push myself to the limit, and so I need a camera that has no limits. The EOS R3, to me, is limitless."

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The ultimate creative toolkit, engineered to capture action at up to 20fps. "This camera is what I call my beast," says Mohammad. "There is nothing it can't do! It's very fast, the focus is phenomenal and it's hard to miss a shot. The RAW files have excellent image quality and with two CFExpress cards, this camera is unstoppable."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

With advanced focusing and metering, the EOS 5D Mark IV performs well, even in tricky low light conditions. "My EOS 5D Mark IV was always my backup camera," says Mohammad. "I wanted a high megapixel just in case I needed to crop an image that I couldn't get close to while in the field. The detail that this camera can offer is spectacular."


Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

With 5-stops of image stabilisation and L-series build quality, this lens delivers excellent telephoto performance. "It is truly manageable in terms of weight," says Mohammad. "With a minimum focus distance of 90cm, I can shoot close-up. This is the best telephoto zoom lens I've ever used."

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Compact, high-performance and reliable, this professional L-series sports and wildlife zoom with IS will deliver excellent results even in rapidly changing situations. "This lens is fast, ridiculously sharp and very light in weight," says Mohammad.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

The EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM offers stunning picture quality with advanced image stabilisation. "I have used this excellent lens a lot over the years, paired with my EOS 5D Mark IV," says Mohammad. "It has performed faultlessly with excellent image quality and IS. It is just a great all-purpose lens."

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

With a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and advanced autofocus, this ultra-wide-angle zoom promises premium quality. "This is my primary wide-angle zoom lens," says Mohammad. "The wide f/2.8 aperture has helped me take some incredible photos of animals at night."

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM

The complete range of ultra-wide-angle focal lengths in a single high-quality zoom – perfect for shooting landscapes and architecture. "I use this in my wildlife photography in very specific situations, because it makes small subjects look huge," says Mohammad.

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

This lightweight super-telephoto lens delivers high-quality results for all types of action photography. "Top-of-the-line build quality, lightning-fast autofocus and image stabilisation – this is one of the best lenses ever made," says Mohammad. "I use it for night photography in Kuwait and Kenya and it is always up to the test."

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Robustly built with weather sealing, this superb lens also features advanced IS and AF technologies. "This is ideal for all my macro shooting," says Mohammad. "Two of my shots that were taken with this lens were rewarded in high-profile wildlife photography competitions."


Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

This adapter allows EF and EF-S lenses to be used with EOS R System cameras. "I have this ring so I can use my EF lenses on my RF camera, and it is marvellous," says Mohammad. "It enables me to change my aperture instead of using the camera."

Canon Extender EF 2x III

A professional grade extender that increases the focal length of L-series lenses by 2x. "This allows me to frame the subject more tightly, especially when photographing small birds or if I want to get a full portrait of a lion," says Mohammad.

Canon Extender EF 1.4x III

A professional grade extender that increases the focal length of L-series lenses by 1.4x. "This extender means I can gain a longer focal length, or narrower angle of view from a lens," says Mohammad.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT

Fire compatible radio-frequency Speedlite flashguns over distances of up to 30m. "I use this wireless controller for my second curtain photography, which is a technique used when shooting in low light with a slow shutter speed," says Mohammad.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT and 600EX II-RT

"Speedlites enable me to add extra light to a scene and take control of how my subject is illuminated," says Mohammad. "Useful in low-light conditions, they can also transform images in bright sunshine by filling in shadows and helping to balance the exposure across the scene. I use all my Speedlites at the lowest power and sometimes with a diffuser or flash extender, depending on the situation."

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