Fashion/Reborn:「幾度となく繰り返されてきた実験が私のフォトグラフィーの基盤を形成している」Interview with Tarek Mawad

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

ーーCan you tell us about yourself? About your background and about your career as a fashion photographer?

Tarek: During my years of study in a small town in Germany, I majored in Media Design, focusing on 3D animation. That was when I started photography. I needed references when creating 3D sceneries, so I would go out and observe how light functioned/ bounced off between different materials and the colors it showed. All this reading of color is a big part of 3D animation. That was when it all began.

When you’re doing 3D animation, you always have to sit in front of the computer. I didn’t want to do that anymore, so my colleague Friedrich van Schoor and I established a company called 3hund. We focused on projection mapping and 3D animation, but spending more time outside. In terms of projection mapping, projects like “Bioluminescent Forest” and “Lucid” went viral because they were unique in their own ways.With the projector and generator going outside the forest we projected light onto such things as organic mushrooms to create this avatar feelings. We also did light installations, actually trying to work with simple techniques and genius ideas. For instance, it can be a lamp from IKEA, or a simple LED light, reflecting on things or the whole scenery.

Last year, we decided to split, I wanted to focus more on photography and to put all my know-how and experiences that I gained over the years into photography.

ーーHow did you develop this own style of yours?

Tarek:I was focusing more on documentary photography, at that time and I did use my skills in terms of composition and light, so that would always be part of my style, but since last year. It’s more fun to be free within my creativity, like using the skills in projection mapping, light installation and putting them together with analog photography. Projection mapping is such a digital medium, that I don’t want to shoot digital as well to have a balance. That is why I’m using analog also in photography, to create something unique because I know nobody used projection mapping at it’s full capacity in terms of photography. And nobody can tell me it’s photoshopped because I have my negatives as a proof to say “look at my negatives, this is real.”

ーーWhere do you get the inspirations from?

Tarek:Heavily inspired by films and music videos, where a lot of movement takes place.

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

ーーWhat is your creative starting point for each of your shoots?

Tarek:So sometimes I have images in my mind, that I am dreaming about, and I know exactly that it’s the picture that I want and I am going for. Even without knowing what the meaning is, what the purpose behind it is, I just know I want to realize it, so I don’t focus on the message, this is something happening very naturally. I sometimes sit there and create concepts, coming from my own feelings and my emotional state at that moment. So I’m trying to get to that state on purpose in order to depict the image. During the creation of a concept I’m in my own cocoon (my own world), where I’m doing a lot of experimenting, I also do that during the shoots. This also happens naturally, because I want an artistic approach and I want to be open, to have the freedom to experiment as sometimes I can’t imagine the picture until I see it. Sometimes it’s the whole opposite.

ーーDoes trend or movements in the society effect you in any ways? How do you balance your own style and trend that is on-going?

Tarek:I don’t think I’m following the trend, because once you go with the trend, the trend is also going away as well, so I’m just trying to create work that is timeless. Something that in 50 years, you can still say it’s a great picture and it’s a great idea. The only thing that I might go with the trend, is in the styling, but I’m also searching for styling that is timeless, a lot of them inspired by 1960s,1970s, 1980s style.

ーーWhat kind of techniques do you emphasise the most? Especially, in the lighting techniques?

Tarek:I think the most important thing is light setting. Having a great light setting so you can have a great mood as well. For me, this is always the most important and fun part, the light owns the whole image. Not only trying to take a beautiful lightened image but trying to play artistically with it. With projection mapping, you can choose different colors, paint with colors, paint on faces, or mark on specific area. So this is the most important part for me at the moment. I’m playing with the technique of photography as a whole orchestra where every instrument come together.

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

ーーHow do you choose the locations?

Tarek:Location scouting I do while jogging or cycling when I need it. I save the spots. Sometimes I just have a white background. That gives me the space to experimenting with different shapes, colors and focussing on the main image.

ーーWould you consider whether the outfit matches the scenery?

Tarek:It depends, if it should match the outfit, I’m trying to put the coloring of the outfit, trying to match with the background, but most of the time, a simple studio or outside where it has a clean background. Not that much going on. I see the same location so that is why I’m trying to go with something simple and clean.

ーーWhile long-term effects of the current coronavirus is expected, has anything changed in terms of your perspective towards creations under quarantine?

Tarek:I took the time and built my own studio in a 30 square meter apartment with a projector in my room and experimenting more and being aware of what I have at home. I was also taking the time to cut negatives and puzzle them differently together to create a new image. That was a cool process to learn, also for myself, to find motivation in new techniques and invest 100% of energy into it. I also used my scanner as a creative tool, doing collages, or experimenting by putting liquids on my negatives, using different materials. During corona I worked a lot with my best friend and room mate Hanna Goldfisch who is a model and creative mind, so we were able to work on new creative concepts together.

People always think you have to have the biggest cameras, biggest techniques to bring that image, but this is not the case, so I’m doing the same work with the same quality, in a small space, with simple techniques. It is quite challenging, but I love it because I love challenging myself. I know I can have great results if I have 50 assistants, which would be interesting for bigger productions.

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

ーーSo experimenting is everything in your photography?

Tarek:I do like experimenting a lot and this is the basis of my photography, “to take the time.” For instance, slicking foils in between to change the color. I usually don’t use photoshop or retouching because I want to create the perfect image within camera. I only use it when it comes to collages and when putting negatives together or change the colors a little bit, but I won’t do retouching and all those things, because it doesn’t challenge me and I want to have a perfect picture on camera.

ーーWhat do you want to challenge yourself in the near future? Do you have any goals set for yourself?

Tarek:It may sound cheesy, but honestly my goal is to be unique in the world of photography. Seeing my work hanging in galleries and having people recognize my images and it’s language of communication. So when shooting campaigns, I want to have my own style incorporated.
This is something I would be really happy about, otherwise I would be just a random photographer who’s just using photography as a tool to get money. I just want to make art. The goal is to challenging myself every day.

ーーWhat do you see in the future of fashion photography?

Tarek:I think fashion photography might change slowly in what people want. It’s definitely getting more diverse and I can see a change but this is just the beginning. I would love to see more interesting characteristic faces every age rather then young standard beautiful models. I don’t know how it will be in the future but I definitely would want to see “real” diversity that is not staged. So many brands don’t even take the time to deal with diversity. I hope this is something that will change in the future.

NeoL Magazine JP | Photo: Tarek Mawad Text: Mayu Uchida | Edit: Ryoko Kuwahara

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