Samer Rawadi is a man in love. However, the object of his affection is the desire to bring out the best in people and things using a camera. Though he never formally studied to become a skilled photographer, the profession has always held an undeniably alluring passion. As destiny would have it, he was fortunate to have had the chance to break into the field as an assistant for one of the renowned fashion photographers in town called Jihad Hojeily. That opportunity drove him to labour harder than he has ever had and three years on, he found himself working with international designers and models while shooting in Paris for well established agencies. What follows is his story.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
It is not about what you are seeing in the viewfinder; it is more about creativity and imagination. It’s about the means of bringing out a piece of art that touches emotions by getting people to stop and reflect on the picture. It is the story that you try to convey with a single image.
What is the hardest part of your job?
I would have to say it’s about always being up to date and bringing new ideas to my clients. It is about challenging the day to day norms and maintaining a certain level of creativity and imagination while working long hours, seven days a week. Yet despite all this, I love it.
If not a photographer who you would have been?
Probably an entrepreneur running his own private business, which is not far from what I do today.
Which photographers inspired you most and how did they influence your thinking?
What inspires me most is the work and the people behind it. I make it a point to follow-up on the latest creations of famous and international photographers, which motivates, inspires and encourages me. As for my personal/individualistic style, I would have to say that it is a work in progress. I had to experiment and dabble a lot to get to where I am now. At the beginning, I couldn’t easily determine my own style, but after many trials, errors and countless efforts, I discovered the style that I love most.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Relentless learning. I never stop searching and exploring new methods and ideas. It is an endless experience.
Do you use digital cameras and if so, what is the influence on your photographs?
Digital and technology facilitate our work to a certain extent but they will never replace our imagination and our pursuit for excellence. In other words, if you know the technique well, you will be able to get the best out of the device you have in hand. If not, you will end up facing certain limitations. However, digital cameras have definitely introduced plenty of advantages to the industry. They transformed it by making it faster, easier and more qualitative. Nonetheless, I do believe that seasoned photographers still share certain emotions towards old cameras. Personally, I love working with old film cameras; the feeling is amazing and the results are timeless. Case in point are some of the pictures featured in this article, which were shot on film.
What kind of mode do you go into when photographing a concept or idea?
What is really important is having a good process in place, from taking the brief all the way to executing the work. That involves, brainstorming, visualisation, mood boards, execution plans, locations, models, styling, make up, hair, lighting… It is a long process and if you start it right and maintain focused at every step, you will definitely get the best results. Another key to a great outcome is the chemistry that builds-up between myself and the creative team, which creates a vibe and a common platform that we can build on.
Can you tell us about the true basis of your inspiration?
It all starts from a thorough brief, our understanding of the client’s business and what we are trying to communicate about the brands. When you have the right ingredients, it becomes easy to get inspired and move in the right direction. Such an approach enables me to be focused when delivering outstanding work.
What is the favourite image you have shot recently?
I like many of my pictures, because each one has its own story, moment and feel. When considering what makes a good picture stand out, I would have to say that it is very much about the overall components; right location, models, expression, lighting…
What has been your most memorable session/assignment you’ve felt really connected to and why?
I have many. From working with professionals in Lebanon or with big modelling agencies in Paris and Dubai… It is very difficult to pick a specific one. Honestly, if I am not connected to an idea or a project, I don’t take it, because you always have to work with people who understand your style or else the project may not be up to expectation.
Do you get to work with ad agencies on specific assignments?
Unfortunately, I did not get yet the chance to work with advertising agencies, though I would love to do so and hope the right time will come soon.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Of course. This is what I love doing. Photography is an endless story between myself and the camera.
What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?
Dream big. The more you give it time and dedication, the more you fall in love with it, the more it makes you shine.
On the technical front...
Nikon or Canon, other? Canon & 35mm Film Cameras
Favourite lens? Canon 50mm 1.2
Favourite photography accessory? My vintage ON camera Flash. Found it at a flea market.
Are you a Mac or PC lover? Mac