Fahad Ayyad is a 26-year-old Saudi photographer who believes in natural and raw images over edited ones. You probably don’t know much about him, but what you should know as an introduction, is that he is not only good at what he does, but he loves it too. Ghadeer Al Otaibi discovers a little bit more about this Saudi hidden talent.
GA: When did you start your photographic journey?
FA: To be honest, I never really studied photography. It started out as a hobby and I took it seriously eventually and swapped careers. I worked for a magazine for 4 years and then I left them and now I do freelancing projects. First time I held a camera, was 2006.
GA: What is photography to you?
FA: It is a way of expression. I have 2 mediums of expression, I love photography and music. What a lot of people don’t know is I started out with music long before I started out with photography. I mainly play the guitar for about 9 years, and also have dabbled with the keyboard, piano, bass and drums.
GA: Describe the conflict to do with commercial versus artistic fashion photography.
FA: When dealing with clients, yes. There is usually a lack of input that one can have as an artist. I love being in shoots where I can be more involved in them. If you look at the commercial photographs on my website, I have been involved with them as a director and as a photographer. So I usually like to have a little bit of freedom.
GA: What is the power of photography?
FA: A picture can be interpreted in so many ways, that’s why in most of my photos, they lack titles, I don’t like the limitation of interpretation from the viewer. I like the fact that my interpretation of a photo differs to what another persons. Open for interpretation. I don’t like to limit it.
GA: On an emotional level, what can a photograph make you feel?
FA: It can make you feel lots of things. For me mainly, it makes me feel different kinds of things.
GA: How do you build a relationship with the subjects you are photographing?
FA: Establishing a good connection with the subject is an important matter in a photo session, since good chemistry with the photographer puts the subject at ease and at their natural persona, which shows in the images. I usually do that by getting to know the person a little bit before the session, and of course playing their favorite music in the background couldn’t hurt.
GA: What are your views on digitally enhanced photos?
FA: Digital can’t capture the feeling as much as a film can. I usually like to take photos with very old vintage cameras. They capture emotions a lot better than a digital film does. It’s rawer. And with photoshopping these days, people pick up a camera, take one shot and sit for ever in front of a computer and create the image that they want, a perfect one that wasn’t natural, all by editing. The only time I use editing tools is when I need to fix the coloring of an image. I don’t like to alter any of my images. I like to keep it as raw as possible.
GA: How is it being a Saudi photographer? Restrictions? How does Saudi reflect in your work?
FA: I’ve dealt with a lot of restrictions. Especially when working for a magazine. We were never allowed to show faces in a fashion shoot and had to manage a way around it for every issue. It presented me with a lot of challenges but I was very happy trying to find a way around them. Gave me a sense of victory. And as a Saudi photographer, I try to stay away from the Saudi cliché type of photography, I try to diversify and stand as a photographer, rather than a Saudi photographer.
GA: What or who would you love to photograph?
FA: mmmm… Tough question.
GA: Anyone at all, no judgements on our end.
FA: No judgements? (momentary pause) It would have to be Lindsay Lohan. She has so much character. She works so well in front of a lens. A lot of her shoots are really inspiring. She has a raw feel, not polished, which is what I like. I like people with a bit of an edge.
GA: Name some of your favorite photographers?
FA: It has to be Annie Leibovitz and Ryan Schude. Leibovitz’ photography is nothing less than amazing. She captures true emotions in portraits of people within their surroundings in a studio set-up, which is very admirable. I think Ryan’s photography could only be fully appreciated if it was blown up on a large scale to appraise the details in his images. There are elements all around the photograph that connect to each other and tell a complete story in a single image. I love his style of photography.
Images courtesy of Fahad Ayyad