What advice would you give yourself if you started photography from scratch again?
I’d teach myself to fix my crops and editing if anything. However, I’d like to think my work matured quite nicely over the years.
What do you think are some clichés in photography you tend to avoid?
Photography is different for every photographer. Every photographer takes their own photos with their own styles and vision. But if I had to choose one cliché, it would be all the Baron Palace shoots that seem to prevail. I avoid shooting there because it has become, as you say, “cliché”.
What would you want your viewers to take away from your work?
That it’s not a joke, that we don’t fake any pictures we take, that we don’t advertise something that we don’t believe in. We are special for a reason. We have worked hard to reach what we have achieved. Each and every one of us worked hard for years and reached what we were seeking through nothing but hard work.
What celebrity do you wish to do a photo-shoot for and in what setting?
I always wanted to meet, talk, and take pictures of Sherihan. It would never be in a similar setting she shot before, it would be something totally new with the costumes she always used to wear and was famous for.
Whose work has influenced you most?
I want to be similar to Tim Walker, not exactly like him but I want to be inspired by his vision. He does not just influence me, it’s my dream to achieve what he has achieved.
Among your works, which one is your favourite? Why?
I love everything about my job and my character as an Art Director. The one that I will never forget is the first photo-shoot I did with Mai Selim. At that time, I didn’t even have a studio. I did the photo-shoot at my house in my room; my wall was pink. I went and bought grey paint and painted my wall before having her over and starting the photo-shoot. We took pictures from the top of my bed, and she was very supportive and praised the quality of the photos. I dressed her in my sister’s collection. My other sister is a makeup artist so all the team was in my room preparing for her photo-shoot. It was my first-ever shoot with a celebrity, so I am very proud of it.
How much of your shooting is instinctual vs. planned?
It has to be planned, the outfits must be styled, the models’ skin colour must flatter the outfits, the theme, the makeup, and accessories should all be decided before the shoot. On the day of the photo-shoot, we have to make sure everything is set.
What tools do you use for post-processing? Explain your workflow.
I don’t just take pictures. I direct, style, work on the storyboard, and the actual photo shooting. When working with designers, we sit down together with the pictures and choose what makes them happy and also matches my vision as a photographer. We also make short videos of the photo-shoot and we make teasers.
How do you generally deem black and white vs. colour? Do you find them to be separate techniques or interdependent?
To me colourful photos have more of an impact on people and that is based on personal experience. I tried it on people before. A photographer has a vision and the impact on people is very important to me. But I personally love black and white because it takes you to another world, but colours are more practical, especially in Egypt. People like fantasies and bright colours and likes and shares. But black and white is more professional and I prefer working without colours.
Did you study photography or did it start as a hobby?
I graduated from Faculty of Arts in Ain Shams, but it has nothing to do with photography. I didn’t even take courses but I used to buy all the books I can get my hands on that were related to photography. I even practiced editing and Photoshop. I can’t be a photographer without knowing how to edit. I used to watch tutorials and learn on my own.
What were the difficulties you encountered when you embarked on this career?
I started at a very young age. I was only an 18-year-old college girl. So to have the courage to enter a career such as this, and at that age specifically, was very challenging. When I started, fashion didn’t have the impact it does now. So for me to enter this field at that age when it was all about wedding photographers, and to actually say that I am a fashion photographer, was amazing. The magazines that I always wanted to work for used to depend on big photographers such as Khaled Fadda and Karim Nour but that was their right because at that time there wasn’t young talented photographers that were known, and there wasn’t much diversity.
How has social media played a role in today’s photo standards and expectations?
Social media plays the biggest role in my career. I started out with a simple camera and it all began with taking pictures of my friends. I love fashion and makeup and my friends used to always come over at my house so I can take pictures of them. Personally, I love challenges and I love dressing up my friends and playing dress-up like young girls. Instead of wasting time and playing it on computers, I used to play it in reality with my friends. And as I found that I am extremely passionate about it, I decided to do as a career. But before starting my career, I was thinking in a very professional way and I practiced for at least one year before showing my work to anyone. I then made a Facebook Group and one-by-one everything started to grow and become a business. And in a month one of the magazines called and wanted me to work on a fashion issue photo shoot. This has always been my dream. Now social media has a bigger role in my career not only as a photographer but also as an influencer.
Who are your favourite photographers, and how do they influence you?
My favourite photographer is Tim walker. I love him because he relies more on fantasy themes; it is far from reality and more about the imagination. But as for Egyptian photographers, I would say that Karim Nour has ambition and a mind of his own, in addition to his mind-blowing creativity. He started out at a very young age and reached what many at his age couldn’t yet.
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