Monday, November 8, 2010

Exclusive interview with Toufic Araman, and Award winning Simplistic Photographer


 LPM: Who is Toufic Araman? Introduce yourself, where did you study, how long have you been in photography, starting point, etc… 
Toufic: I have spent my early childhood in Lebanon then moved to Egypt in 1982.  I studied “Economics and Fine Arts” at the American University in Cairo.  In 2001, I landed a job in Dubai where I worked as a Training and Development Director in a multinational then an independent Business Consultant.  In Dubai, I started taking photography workshops and courses. A close friend of mine gave me an SLR camera with two lenses in 2003.  It had changed my life.  It was a shock for me to know that I can paint that easily and in a social way too.  Painting required a lot of solitude which I could not handle!  In 2006 I decided to go to New York to study photography at the “International Center of Photography, ICP” and the “School of Visual Arts, SVA” New York. 9 courses in 8 months were a challenged but I did it.   ICP focused on the conceptual side of photography and SVA on the technical side gave me a huge push.  I came back in 2007 and I stared my career as a full time photographer.  

LPM: How would you define yourself who is Toufic Araman as a photographer?
Toufic:I don't define myself as anything more than an observer; I don't give solutions, I simply reflect. My work takes the viewer through the journey of my thoughts, towards the exact feeling or moral I try to reflect. I want to be labeled as an effective communicator, and let that be through photography, painting or film.

Photographs are not real. They reflect the reality of the person behind the lens. Photography is very subjective, as a photographer I will choose my angle, and so the frame will reflect only what I have chosen to capture.

I don't build my creativity on a person's influence; however, I admire the pioneers, as they define the concept of uniqueness (individuality) to me. They dared to do the different against the mainstream, thus becoming the first in history.

I am will shoot anything creative, that has a strong concept behind it, be it fashion, food, interior or advertising. 

LPM: How would you describe your style?
Toufic:Simplistic, minimist and I depend on lighting to make my images to look the way it looks.  Light always play a character in my pictures. But ultimately, what makes a stunning picture is the team that puts together (i.e. model, makeup, stylist, everything)

LPM: What advice do you have for new photographers?
1- Shoot things that usually people don’t shoot
2- Don’t go for something usual and shoot things you like to shoot
3- Be pushy, and always ask yourself what the message you are trying to convey 

LPM: Did you get trained by another photographer?
Toufic:No. I am a self-taught never worked for anybody. I assist few for a day or two but the workshops I took and looking at other people’s work helped me a lot.

Some of my teachers in New York pushed me so hard that has affected my personal life not only my skills.   

LPM: How do you prepare for a photo shoot?
Toufic:I am meticulous.  Everything has to be well planned beforehand; I try as much as possible not to leave any details unknown.   Things have to be documented with the stylist and makeup artist etc.  I do a lot of brainstorming with my team.

LPM: What do you add to the photo when the client tells you this and that? 
Toufic:My clients leave space for me to develop the idea.  However, sometimes when shooting advertising, the picture sketch comes in a very specific format of how it should look like. Therefore my job is to help my client bringing to the concept to life in my own style.

LPM: How do you work out on the composition of the picture? 
Toufic:Many people work on rules (rules of third etc…), but I do not think about it.  No composition rules is the rule.  Breaking the rules making it less predictive.  It is a boring to predict an image.  

LPM: What distinguish a professional model from a non-professional one?
Toufic:Creativity, acting skills and knowledge of photography are very important criteria.  Experience makes a huge difference; they will help you make your images come to life.  They can tell the outcome of the photographs by knowing what lens and light you are using.  They basically become part of the team.  

LPM: What makes Lebanese photographers different from others / in the area photographers?
Toufic:They have more guts they can push it and this give them advantage in the region.  We live in somehow a more moderate society than anyone else in the region.  

LPM: What is your favorite lens? 
Toufic:I have no favorite lens.  It depends on what I am shooting, for example, for the portrait I shoot with 35 mm, 85 mm and 50 mm.  They use to tell me the longer the lens the better compact perspective of the picture and it makes the face look good.  I sold my 70- 200 last year, cause I have discovered that the closer to the people the more emotion you get out of them.  Wide angle lens tells a story.  I mainly use prime lenses; 35, 50, 85 mm and 90 tilt and shift, 24 tilt shift

LPM: What is your lighting equipment?
Toufic:I use profoto and bownes.  More and more I am using less artificial light and depend on natural light.  When I started photography I wanted every piece of equipment, now, I am ending up now using less and less equipment.  It is not a matter what equipment you have it is a matter of what you do with them.  For my last underwater shoot I just used a 35mm for the whole shoot and did not change the lens.  

LPM: A typical question what are you using, medium format or 35 m? 
Toufic:I use Mainly Canon 1Ds mark III.  I also own Mamiya RZ67 but I prefer Canon.

It doesn’t matter, you can use a Holga and get the same results, you don’t need a fancy camera.  It is not how big the file; it’s what is in the file.  I have all lenses but I want to be flexible, and faster, don’t like to put the camera on a tripod.  Putting the camera on a tripod makes the image looks staged.   I use it handheld, it gives me flexibility.
I’m using now the live view feature especially for interior; I shoot tethered and style the shot on the computer monitor.  

Technical Scope.
LPM: How was Angham picture taken?
Studio highlight, and lighting setup, Camera

Lighting Setup:

LPM: In general during a session to take the shot how many picture you take.
Toufic: It really depends, sometime just one and others 50 to 100.

LPM: Do you still have time to shoot for yourself something you love?
Toufic:Not as much as I would like to. But yes I do at least once in a month, I do a personal shoot.  You have to develop yourself so you need to test.

LPM: Can you share a website or blog you visit often?
Toufic: It is a magazine and a blog; it is the biggest photography business portal in America, for example how to budget your studio.

LPM: Who are your Famous Clients?
Qatar airways
American express
Starwood (owners of Sheraton, meridian, four points etc...)
And now I started shooting singers in a creative way; my first was Angham the Egyptian singer.

LPM: What awards did you win and some of your exhibitions?
Toufic:I won four main awards. Gulf photo plus best advertising photo 2008. Gulf photo plus 2006 photo of the year. Grapheast 2005 and just recently a shoot I have done for Qatar Airways won second place for a fashion shoot in Australia The creativity print award.  My work was exhibited in Noordelicht, Holland, Brecht Forum, New York and Dubai Gulf Art Fair, UAE.  I currently am taking part at The House of Frida show in ground 68 in Beirut.

LPM: Last four photo shoots?
Raffles Hotel, KSA
Qatar airways magazine, fashion editorial

LPM: What do you say for people that love your work? 
Toufic: Good Luck Hope you will always love my work.  Remember to tell me why. 

LPM: What do you say for Lebanese photography magazine? 
Toufic: Having this number of people interested in your website in this short time, is an AMAZING JOB.  Keep up the good work.

Contact info:
Phone: +961 71 600 140

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