Duration: I have been working professionally as a photographer for the past four years.
Location: I am currently based in Beirut, Lebanon, with frequent trips to Europe—mostly France and the Netherlands—for exhibitions and film festivals. I also travel often for client work.
Education: I went to the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts (Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts) in Beirut, where I got a BA in communication arts and specialized in illustration, which I worked very briefly in before moving to my one true love, publishing, and eventually photography.
Career path: I’ve been in love with print media and periodicals from a ridiculously young age. Before the internet, eBay and the easiness of e-commerce, I used to have my parents drive me to the only importer of foreign publications in the country—to the actual warehouse—so I could find back copies of magazines that I loved, which were primarily photo-based. I grew up admiring photographs and the way they’re laid out in print. I eventually realized that I could create photos myself and publish a magazine, or several, of my own.
Cultural influences: Lately, I’ve been influenced by novels that I’ve been randomly picking up from my friends’ suggestions. Milan Kundera’s The Festival of Insignificance is one of the most recent things I’ve read, and it sparked something inside of me. However, when it comes to cultural influences, documenting queer Arab life is what drives my personal projects.
Favorite projects: The shoot I did for Gucci in early 2018, which features two of the greatest queer icons in the Middle East: Bassem Feghali and Anya Kneez. It was a landmark in Arab queer pop history, and I’m very happy to have been a part of it.
Another project would be the campaign I shot for local fashion newcomer Rafa Homme. Working with a new brand is interesting; you have more freedom to play around when the brand guidelines aren’t set in stone yet. We created a photo book for the collection that merged documentary photography and fashion. The final product was an eerie, playful false documentation of a group of young extraterrestrials who land in a remote, deserted village on the Syrian-Lebanon border. It was a lot of fun.
Work environment: Physically, I have two offices that I switch between. One is in the middle of the city, right in the bustle of Beirut, and the other is my home office outside of the city. I need both work environments depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes, I need to feel the heat and fast-paced rhythm of the city, whereas other times, I need the comfort of my own home and to have my partner spoil me rotten while I work. Culturally, I live within the Arab queer community, my extended family.
Approach: I work on different ends of the spectrum. I’ve done documentary work for the likes of Vice, Slate, i-D, Dewar’s and my own Arab Queer photo journal Cold Cuts. At the same time, most of my clients happen to be fashion-related publications and fashion brands, like Gucci, Fendi, Marie Claire, L’Officiel and Sorbet. When it comes to my personal work, I tend to focus on the untold stories of Beirut and the rise of the city’s queer culture through documentaries and photo stories, several of which have been exhibited around the region and published in queer publications around the globe.
Aspirations: Things are going pretty great at the moment, in terms of the clients I work with and the recognition that my personal work on the Arab queer community has been receiving. I hope for this streak to last as long as possible, and for Cold Cuts to grow, enabling me to showcase the beauty of the Arab queer community to a much larger audience.
Philosophy: Read more books. It can stimulate your visual imagination more than any image ever could.
Fun fact: I’ve only recently started to play around with digital photography. So far, my work has been almost strictly shot on 35mm film.