We came across Somayeh Jafari’s photography on Instagram and werecharmed by her shots of people, public transport and more in the capital. We got in touch to talk the di erences between photography and lming, howthe year has been so far and what she has lined up...
Hey Somayeh. How’re you finding 2016 so far?
Hello! 2016 is definitely going in the right direction so far. I’ve got serious with photography and I feel like all the theory is finally coming into practice. Mitch Kalisa, my boyfriend and co-director, runs a small production company in Soho called Jam Flicks and we’ve been busy together creating a collective, Milk&Cola, as part of it. This year is all about us building an amazing portfolio to showcase by the end of it!
Do you ever feel constrained by your style, format etc? How do you challenge yourself?
Mitch bought me my first 35mm camera for my birthday last May. Prior to that, I got a Canon 450D in 2010 but rarely used it. From the start I’ve only ever used 35mm with street photography, but with more portrait or fashion shoots I feel I need to also shoot digital. The stakes are higher and I feel it’s good to have a back up because film may be unpredictable. But I find the whole process slightly limiting and can kill your flow. So with planned shoots, I’m currently trying to challenge myself by experimenting more on 35mm and not rely on digital. I would also love to work my way up to using 120mm!
The other big challenge currently with planned shoots is thats it’s not entirely possible to be the photographer. I’m also the stylist, art director, and often I feel that limits my creativity and mental focus in trying new things with photography. But my aim is to practice so much that, even if it’s just me doing everything, I can still create amazing photographs!
What differences do you most enjoy in working in photography and video?
I somewhat fell into filmmaking, so actually my first love has always been photography. With films it’s a labour of love. It takes weeks, months and even years to get results. It is, however, amazing when you do find people who you can truly collaborate with, there’s something very special with it all coming together. But I’m slightly impatient and photography for me scratches the creative itch that I have. It’s instant, it’s satisfying and in a flash the moment is gone.You have a few seconds, if it goes, you'll never be able to catch it again. Video is different, as you might do take after take. I feel there’s more of a instant hit and rush to photography, which my heart beats fast for. After I finish a roll of film I can’t wait to sleep so I can take my rolls to be developed the next day!
In your work, how do you feel you compromise between what you want to do and what other people want to do
It’s all about trying to stay true to yourself, as cliche as that sounds. I’ve learnt there is a true difference in emulating art that you like and making work which you think is “cool” and “trendy”. There is no shame in emulating great artists and art, but in the world of highly competitive Vimeo and Instagram, it’s easy to get sidetracked into just making the same work to get the success and views others have. The pressure to make a living off your art is high and I think if anything I’m learning to go backwards in a way. To try and create something for myself rather than other people.
How do you think working in London influences your work?
This is something me and my peers often discuss. With street photography I have to work harder in London. I have to keep reminding myself to keep my head out of my iPhone to see the magic moments in my daily life. When you travel, your eyes are motivated by the inspiration you feel with travelling and a new environment.
What would you most like to shoot that, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed to and why?
I really would love to shoot something commissioned by some of my favourite magazines, to be able to work with a talented team, art director, stylists and interesting models. I guess I’ll have to continue practicing until that day comes!
What projects do you have lined up for your photography in the foreseeable future?
In terms of planned shoots, I’m currently on the hunt for interesting models and brands to work with! I’m also obsessed with buses, so I tend to document and do a lot of street photography focusing on London buses! In terms of documenting people, I just think it’s fascinating.