Photographer in focus: Rayan Nawawi

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Saudi Gazette

Saudi photographer Rayan Nawawi is almost a traditional nonconformist who quit his nine to five job to pursue what he loves and does best- photography. Having said that, he instantly joined the ranks of creatives who dared to leave behind their mediocre unimaginative lives and had the courage to be more than ordinary. Nawawi found his calling at the age of 17. “I got a professional camera from my father, who adores photography and videography. I used to play with the camera all day long, taking shots of all my surroundings. During university years I got a freelancing job as an event photographer by Fainak and that was just the start.” After earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in advertisement, he joined Leo Burnett as an Art Director in Jeddah. “I stayed at Leo Burnett for almost a year and during that period I was doing photography as a freelancer. After one year I decided to resign and start my own Nawawi Studio. It has been almost a year and a half since I started.” As the word spread, he started getting more work locally, which further opened doors to international projects. Nawawi recently collaborated with another artist Ali Chaaban on a project with Nike and Vice Magazine for the Summer Of White campaign. “I’m working with him on a few projects that are in pre-production phase, one of them being Saudi fashion brand Hindamme’s editorial campaign, founded by Mohammed Khoja,” he told Saudi Gazette. He particularly enjoys the art of story telling through editorial photos. “What’s special about editorial is the ability to tell a story within the frame. As a photographer, I’m a storyteller, I decode the moment the second I click that button. So it’s very crucial that the frame is rich in aesthetics and emotions.” When discussing his favorite tools and features, he admitted it was Hasselblad, hands down without doubt. “Hands down it is of the best cameras ever produced. The color-processor is incredible to a point that its pictures are the closest to the natural eye-view colors. Technically it is the most advanced and it creates a synergy with the photographer, where the artist can depend on it like a colleague or a partner.” Nawawi is inspired by his favorite photographer Joey L. “He is one of the most profound photographers because of his ability to dramatize a portrait. What makes Joey L. so great is his keen eye on creating scenes from still photos. He inspires people to tell stories in his work, and pushes the limit of how a pictures should transcend simple aesthetic understanding.” For Nawawi, inspiration originates from anything that allows him to contemplate cultures coming together. “I observe people everywhere, in the streets, talking to clients, friends, strangers, watching films and listening to music. I watch people’s body language and what colors they are wearing, each culture or society have a color scheme. Sometimes I need to go far from my city to see new things and talk to random people who are involved and not involved in art,” he told Saudi Gazette. When asked what sets him apart in the burgeoning Saudi art scene, he said his trademark lies in his unconventional approach to photography. “I believe it’s the fact that I’m an Art Director first before I am a photographer, so the way I approach photography is unorthodox. Rather than focusing on the subject solely, I’d like to create the entire scene from scratch, to deliver a message or information as well as trying to produce an aesthetically pleasing image.” Discussing future plans, Nawawi admitted it was difficult to decide because of a personal divide that borders on his varying creative roles. He maybe second-guessing the road map to the future but what he is certain about is his aim to inspire future generations and photographers. “This question seems sort of difficult for me, since I’m divided into two identities one of them being the Art Director that I am and the other being a photographer. It’s always hard setting goals for either, since I’m always bouncing back and forth between both professions. My goals are simple. I want to spread the idea of culture throughout my work, becoming a reference for photographers to use as an example for inspiration in theirs.”

Check out his work on www.nawawistudio.com and on Instagram @rnawawi


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