By Oussama Hamama
By Oussama Hamama
Morocco World News
Rabat, December 27, 2011
Moroccan painter, photographer, and film director Abdelfattah Hamouda interviewed by Oussama Hamama, Morocco World News contributor.
Oussama Hamama: I would love to ask a few questions, and please take your time in answering. First: Do you see photography in Morocco improving or regressing?
Abdelfattah Hamouda: For the past twenty years, I’ve noticed that photography in Morocco has been evolving and improving, especially since the launch of digital cameras. Nowadays, photographers can see their photos and make any adjustments needed before moving on to the next shot. Without digital cameras, photography would still be a struggling art in Morocco, in part caused by a lack of schools for photography in Morocco.
OH: Based on your wide experience, how do you think Moroccan photojournalists compare to their foreign colleagues?
AH: Of course there is a huge difference between Moroccan photojournalists and European ones. To be a photojournalist in the UK, for example, skill must be proven as a photographer first, then work in journalism is a possibility. There are ways of composing shots that can explain the story of the image and the British photojournalists can document scenes in such a way to express pain, weakness, power, dominance, etc. They can accomplish this through just a single shot because they understand the laws of photography: the laws of framing and composition. When I see photos by journalists in a Moroccan newspaper, I see them as snapshots only, because there is not the same standard for photography as in the UK. Again, this is due to a lack of photographers, and schools specializing in photography.
OH: What do Moroccan photographers need to be professional? (Inspiration, photography classes, role models, etc.)
AH:The most important thing is to listen to the critics, then to study and read more photography books. Photographers can visit outsider galleries and support the art of photography so it can gain prominence in this country. Some people claim to be professional photographers, but they have no clue as to what really makes a good photograph. Digital photography makes automatic good-enough photographs, but learning the basics of photography through negatives and hand developing is the best way to master the art. The Internet makes available the work of talented photographers who spend years in the field. Many of these still use film for its charm and grainy texture. I still miss my hand developing and would love to go back to it myself. l dream of an exhibition made entirely of hand printed images.
OH: What obstacles will a new photographer encounter?
AH: The main difficulty is acquiring the equipment. A living can be made from professional photography, but forty or fifty percent of income is devoted to equipment: .professional lenses and camera bodies. Another obstacle is a lack of confidence, or self-respect. We don’t want to be going around telling clients how good we are and at the end of the day ruin their wedding photos, which should be able to be cherished for a lifetime.
OH: How can a photographer overcome these obstacles?
AH: One way is to think in the long term, avoiding feeling jealous of others who might have topnotch gear. I started with amateur equipment and slowly started to invest in professional equipment and lenses. Think small and aim high is the key; get people to trust you and your work. It can be nerve-wracking and confusing at first, and then slowly it will start to become fun.
OH: Do you think a Moroccan photographer could one day win first prize in a World Press Photo award?
AH: Yes, definitely. I see that many Moroccan photographers have good ideas but they need some guidance to get it right. They need guidance on composition and in following the rules of photography. Without these, a jury thinks of a photo as a snapshot, not a photograph. Photographers here must really understand the rules of photography to get it totally right. I’m sure some day we will see many great Moroccan photographers in competitions.
Oussama Hamama is Morocco World News’ contributor
Editing by Jasmine Davey