Interview by Charlie Price
Edited by Tiaja Pierre
Tell us about the new photo studio you are opening?
My business partner (Ahmad Al Salih) and I are launching Void Studios; our vision is to create a unique functional photography/videography center in Denver. We both came to this country chasing ambitions and we met by accident through the Denver fashion scene! We are creating a space that is big enough to accommodate larger, including out-of-state productions (we can offer 40,000 W of total power). We also want to be flexible and affordable to smaller brands and photographers. The open space (3,600 sq. ft.) main production area has two 32’ x 30’ x 17’ tall cycloramas that can be combined to one 32’ x 60’, 25’ x 25’ cyclorama and 25’ x 25’ portrait bay. Members will be able to rent each individual space (separated by temporary walls) or rent the entire 3,600 sq. ft. production space (which is an unobstructed open space with garage door access). We will also have an 18’ x 38’ private Studio B with 18’ x 16’ x 12’ cyclorama, paper systems, props etc. Selected members will be able to rent an office, host their clients and do in-person sales, meetings, workshops, etc. Think Hubble or Milk Studios sized down to Denver needs (our total facility size is 7,500 sq. ft.). We should be open by the end of July.
You are a very technical photographer – what excites you about the equipment and lights – I know you live for “the toys”.
For me, my toys are here to accommodate my photography. I want my equipment to do EXACTLY what I need to achieve the shot I’m looking for (my vision). I do not want my equipment to limit what I can do. Let it be Phase One, Nikon or Profoto all my equipment has a very particular use. But I am definitely enjoying my latest addition to my toys, Phase One XF system with IQ3 100 Trichromatic back and some amazing Schneider Kreuznah lenses.
What legendary photographers have inspired you?
Many, but mostly modern photographers inspire me. A few names, which come to mind, are: Nigel Barker, Mariano Vivanco, Luigi and Iango, Lindsey Adler, Zhang Jingna, Benjamin von Wong and Peter Lik.
What qualities do you look for in a model?
I do not look for “a beauty” in the general sense. A long time ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Beauty without expression is boring”, I happen to agree. I want a model not to be only photogenic, but comfortable in front of the camera (easy to pose – Emi Zerr is a great example). The model also should have the ability to deliver her personality, a little “zazz” to the shot. A model also needs to be responsible and punctual. In addition, a person with a unique look, not very unique of me, always intrigues me.
What is the one element a great fashion shoot should have?
An inspiration/story is a necessary element. It is not just about pictures – I want to invoke an emotional response from the audience. Unlike beauty shots, where we want to show a particular product, let it be a lipstick, mascara, make-up, or a skill of a make-up artist. A fashion shoot has to evoke an emotional response and make the targeted audience associate and know more about the designer, stylist of whoever is the real subject behind the shot. Just my opinion! Rules are meant to be broken in the fashion shot.
What does being a citizen of The West mean to you?
Oh, The west. It is a bit slower than the glam race of the North East (NYC) and a bit less commercial than California. Denver especially is very unique. It is a great place to be with beautiful nature and 300 sunny days a year. I think the fashion industry in Colorado is as unique as the state of Colorado, but I wouldn’t change much about it, if anything. We have some real talent in Denver.