2 weeks before she relocates from Cairo to Germany, NadiaKhashan shares how she got into photography, advice she wouldgive to her younger self, and what she would like to accomplish in photography.
What’s the first photo you took that made you think you had a talent for photography?
I was 11 years old when my parents used to ask me to capture the family photos, they used to say “Nadia knows how to make everyone look good.” So I always had access to a film camera but never thought I would be a photographer until I was 15. I went on a trip with my father to north of Sinai; we drove from Cairo which is about a 7-hour drive through sand mountains and I was truly blown away with the patterns and the colour palette of the desert. As an insecure teenager I was shy to ask my father to stop the car every time I wanted to take a photo so I just kept capturing everything I saw and felt as he was driving. I think this film in general is what opened up my vision to the beauty of storytelling through a photograph.
What do you want to accomplish with your photography?
Storytelling, I like a good story, everybody does. As a visual artist I’m of course interested in the human being as a subject and the places we live in and come from, as well as our colours and patterns that say a thousand words about each one of us. I think that’s beauty. As an Arab woman myself, I would like to showcase more stories about women from my culture through photographs, creating a frame where everyone can be in front of the lens, and disrupting what is considered “photogenic” and all of that crap.
What advice would you give yourself when you were first starting out?
Don’t overwhelm yourself with what people think of your story, you’re the lead in your script.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I’m currently based in Cairo, but in exactly two weeks I’m relocating my studio to Germany. I think there I will find democratic audiences, platforms, and spaces for me to create and present my work freely without the fear of censorship or crossing cultural boundaries in a conservative community.
With phones and social media making everyone think they can be a photographer in some capacity, have you changed your attitude and approach to photography?
I don’t think it has changed my approach. I always tell myself, “It doesn't matter how you hold the brush if you have no paint,” so I guess the tool used to capture a photograph is not what’s imperative, but rather, it’s the frame - what's in it? What are you trying to convey? I personally use multiple types of cameras, both film and digital, with a variety of lenses. Each one has its own reason and purpose, including my iPhone’s camera. It’s good that phones and social media have simplified photography for people but it’s becoming more challenging to filter through all the content – because there’s so much of it out there.
courtesy NADIA KHASHAN
interview HANNAH GLENN
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