CK: How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?
SA: Having studied at several Academies of Art all over Germany, it took me quite a while to find the passion for photography. I started with graphic design, I studied psychology of perception and art history.
After an internship in a design agency in Hamburg, where I had to take pictures of a bus company for advertisement, I realized that there was a lot of depth to photography. I found myself during this job being very creative and having a lot of fun with what could have been a very boring assignment. After this experience I was inspired to study photography on my own while studying other interests at college.
I have always been a dreamer exhisting in reality. I was raised in Germany by my mother and father both Syrian natives. Their tradition was always omnipresent and inevitably formed my creative process.
From a young age I remember feeling the need to rebel against their tradition. I just wanted to be free but I so often felt boxed into a small keeping with all of the boundaires their tradition placed around me.
(why is explained in answer2)
CK: More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?
SA: My first camera was a gift from my father. Upon giving it to me he looked into my eyes and said, “but, don’t take those kind of pictures…you know…with naked skin”. After a while I realized that my pictures were unconciously showing “naked skin”. I was subconsciously rebeling against my fathers authority. Everytime I was able to take a picture of “naked skin” after that realization, I would laugh to myself as I did it, at the thought of shock on his face if he were to ever see what I was doing. Every time it felt like a victory! But only in my imagination. Still to this day he has not seen one of my photographs. He would not be really pleased. From my own perspective I don’t see the models as naked. I see them simply natural with an aura spiritually unique. My photographs are a personal contribution to femininty – a fusion of sexuality, innocense, power and surrealism, that blur the line between art and fashion, fantasy and reality.
I grew up with the experience and awareness through my parents that people are trapped by the necessity of traditon. In Syria people are not allowed to show true feelings, thoughts, and visions freely. For both men and women, especially for women, it isn’t accepted to say and think whatever you want like it is in a democratic world. They are not able to express individuality and freedom, and are held back by restrictments.
As a 6 year old child I discovered the art of Picasso, Miro, Klee, Vasarely and Matisse in our city library in Rastatt my hometown. But also at the same time I was fascinated by the arabic calligraphy – over a long time the only medium for people in the orient to express their creativity without getting into trouble with the law – which was for me full of beauty and softness, strenght and sobriety, and respect for regal asthetic.
My photographs hold both souls – oriental and occidental. My muse is freedom.
CK: How do you learn your techniques?
SA: I learn my techniques by just shooting. I shoot with the knowledge I have, I learn from my mistakes, and sometimes my mistakes are a new technique. I grow and accumulate new ideas and inspirations with each new experience. My vision becomes wider and more generous as I keep moving forward. I remember when I first used a computer, I was a bit scared of this alien, but somebody said to just press every button cause that nothing bad can happen. Until now I follow this idea to just play around to learn things.
CK: Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?
SA: There are a lot of great photographers out there, Of course you look at their pictures, and at this point you are already somehow influenced by their work. No matter in what way. I never really take care who this and that photo shot; it is more the image which is sticking in my head. My inspiration has always come from an emotion. Travels, friends, family, ordinary life. Everything. My muse is freedom.
CK: What is the worst part about doing what you do?
SA: Some people don’t appreciate and don’t really see all the work that photographers do. It is more than pushing the button and saying “Nice!”.
As Thomas Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. You have to organize so many things. The fun part is over so quickly, you better enjoy it as much as you can.
CK: What is the best part?
SA: To finally start shooting. The entire process is a lot of organisation and requires team work. It is important to be surrounded with people you can trust and be able to work hand in hand together. After getting organised, it feels great to start realizing the idea and the vision.
During a shoot the whole world comes to a stand still for a moment. With every single flash showing so much diversity and intensity.
Learning from the Pro
CK: What tools?
SA: Canon EOS Mark III with lenses from 25mm to 80mm, broncolor Para Fb 220, Ringflash P, Softlight Reflector, Pulsoflex 80×80, Grafit A4, beauty light.
CK: Why did you choose these tools?
SA: You are really able to build up so beautiful light. It is always an utter satisfaction and you are flexible witb it at the same time. I was able to precise my work with the Grafit A4 Power Pack, to have sharp results. So fast. And crispy. I was shooting in the studio using the Para 220 as a main soft light and with the beauty light I could set highlights.
CK: What are we going to shoot today?
SA: This personal contribution of photographs called “Nova” took place inside the intimacy of the universe. The woman I reveal is an intellectual, sensual and mysterious spirit. These photographs show dreamy sequences, female grace, poetic pauses and tranquility. They capture freedom, the universal “religion”. The universe represents endless opportunities while at the same time representing a metaphore of illusion and utopia. The title, “Nova” represents exactly what it is: A stellar explosion that is setting free incredible energies from its body, the star. And as it releases this energy it becomes much brighter and more luminous in the process.
CK: Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?
SA: I started with daylight and film. Still, I really like to shoot with natural light. It is quiet a challenge to shoot with daylight, you never know for sure what is going on, clouds or sun, rain or wind…but what you get is so wonderful with a lack of pretense. Mostly, I like to combine the power of nature with light setups.
Of course I used other equipment as well. But I really feel comfortable with Broncolor. You always know what you get. The light is precise and the equipment is fast. And at the same time, it looks so good too. I like aesthetics, always tempting.
VISUAL ARTIST / PHOTOGRAPHER