Ismail Zaidy

Family is a central focus of your work. What inspired you to start working with your family members as subjects of your images?

In the beginning finding models and arranging shoots with them would be tricky. Time, organisation, and getting them to the shoot are things that can be quite long and expensive. I would always have my brother and sister readily available so that's how I navigated around the problem of models.

It's not a thing where I exclusively use my brother or sister either. It's one of those things where we're able to share this comfort and beautiful energy between each other. That's why we've continued to all work with each other. They're not just models; we work on ideas together, we support each other, and different concepts always get thrown back and forth.

There is an emphasis on rich pastels, especially blue and pink, and contrasts of sunlight and shadow in your images. Is there a significance to the colors you choose to work with?

I love pastel colours, but since we, unfortunately, can't see often it in our daily lives, I try to transfer my love of those colours into my photos. I think playing with colours and tones is a way of communicating my family’s problems as well as what's been put in place for us as a society. I believe each colour has a story, meaning, and reason behind it, and sometimes the colours are purely based on the beauty it gives off to the image itself.

Beautiful fabrics and garments feature in many of your images also, sometimes obscuring the figures, sometimes connecting them. How do clothes or textiles factor into your work?

Some people are very good at getting a certain emotion out of people when photographing them. I’ve discovered that I can create the same effect without showing someone’s face. The image itself is the emotion. That's why I use garments to hide the face details and to seek more attention to the whole picture, not only the model and his features. Idon't make portraits; I make visual art

How does location and community, such as Marrakech or Morocco in general, influence your work?

I’m a person that does a lot of research into my art and photography. Photography in Morocco exhibits can be portrayed as exhibiting Orientalist views. I try to show our culture and our identity in a way that isn't so "traditional.”

There are recurring details and clothing in my photos typical to that of my heritage - the djellaba, niqab and hijab. The photos are taken in our land too, but it doesn't have to necessarily look like Morocco, or have art and patterns that people probably associate with Morocco. Above all, I look to include the components of what make me who I am, which is why my family are a big part of my photos.

Is there anything you've learned along the way that has been particularly surprising or interesting, about the process or the medium?

I've learned that it's not necessary to use professional cameras to make great art, and that you don't need big exhibitions. You can start only with your Instagram account. It's all about your ability to explore your ideas, no matter how or where.

Your first solo exhibition was earlier this spring at Riad Yima. Do you have any projects you're working toward now?

Yes, I'm currently working on the second part of my series "Family," and also I have some future collaborations and other projects, but I can't talk about them yet, until they become ready!

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