Some gifts are sentimental while others are memorable; yet very few have the potential to not only change the life of the receiver but also become a major milestone for a whole nation. Toufic Araman received his first camera as a Christmas gift 11 years ago, which launched a new era in Middle Eastern photography.
Araman is an Egyptian-Lebanese photographer with a growing list of prestigious awards. His work has redefined the meaning of fashion and beauty photography. He spends most of his time in Dubai but his masterpieces show up in many projects around the region.
Last week, the artist visited Egypt for a concise workshop in collaboration with Photopia, local photography hub, as well as for some regional photo shoots. However ahead of the two-day inspirational workshop, Photopia made sure to host an intimate talk and reception for a night of fashion and photography in the mesmerising old French consulate in downtown Cairo.
Araman along with his team, stylist Anna Castan and hair and makeup artist Annesofie Begtrup, led an interactive talk on the importance of a solid team, model selection, how to handle tough clients, and their collaborative methods to develop innovative concepts.
Daily News Egypt met with Araman to discuss more about his personal views regarding fashion photography and Egypt’s fashion scene.
How do you define fashion photography?
That’s a big question; it is very hard to define fashion photography. For me initially, it is about a dream. Personally I like to shoot women; most of my work is about women because I like their form and their silhouette. Fashion photography is about the clothes, the lifestyle, the body, and eventually creating the dream; it is inspirational.
How would you evaluate the local fashion photography scene?
I do not think there is a fashion industry so therefore, there is no fashion photography scene; the industry is neither big enough nor established enough for talents to flourish.
What should designers know about fashion photography?
If designers do not provide good visuals for their clothes, they are not going to be able to sell them. Nowadays, people mostly buy through visual content, especially with Instagram becoming a necessity for any designer. They can take their own pictures but it will never be as good as a properly lit, nicely conceptual frame put together for a professional shoot. Professional photos will sell the clothes as well as the lifestyle of the brand.
You previously discussed your relationship with magazines as well as brands; what about your relationship with the designers?
I deal with some clients directly without any middle agencies and many of them are fashion designers. They approach me because they like my lighting, post production, and style; they like what I put together. They usually come to me with a mood-board and we take it from there and develop it further together. I work with designers all the time.
I do like working with designers a lot; the best work I have done was for a big fashion brand in the Gulf because I was dealing with them directly and they knew exactly what they wanted. They had a creative director, who used to work for John Galliano and used to handle all of his shoots. Therefore he knew exactly how to deal with photographers, sit with them, and properly brief them.
What should young local designers known in order to prosper and develop their talent?
They need to experiment and unleash their creativity; they need to develop their own style and not copy anyone else’s work.
What are you planning to do during your short stay in Egypt?
I am hosting a two-day workshop; I have wanted to organise a workshop for a very long time and Photopia told me that it was about time and they pushed me to do it. It is a great experience and I wanted to break out of my momentum. Doing workshops feeds my creativity because I get to meet people and they ask me questions that make me question myself before I answer so it is kind of self-development more than actually teaching other people.
I am doing a shoot for Marie Claire with Lara Scandar and another with Yasmine El-Raies for Marie Claire and Haya. We also have a shoot for ORYX, which is Qatar Airway magazine. Basically, we are here for a five-day shoot.