Zhamak Fullad is a photographer at the crossroads between street photography and portraiture. Having a lo-fi quality to her photos and exploring her surroundings in LA, her photographs detail some of the harsher side of the city. We got to chat with her about her work and origins in photography.
Hi Zhamak, welcome to the magazine! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Heeeelllllooooo! My name is Zhamak and I'm a LA based photographer. I just moved to LA for the summer from Toronto (I'm Canadian). If anyone ever wants to make me happy they buy me ice cream, or they send me cat videos.
You have a very interesting range of subject matter and seem to kind of be conscious observer along with creating your own visual sets, what would you define your photographic identity as?
I'm a fly on the wall. I'm there taking a photo when you're mid-doing-something. I'm also there to take cute portraits. But, I love candid shots and absolutely LOVE doing street photography; it's just more genuine.
How'd you get introduced to photography?
In High School I had to take an elective course that wasn't just quite an 'Art' class and my counsellor put me in a magazine course to test it out. When I walked into the classroom they asked me if I had a camera at home and when I answered with a "yes" they told me "you're now our photographer".
Who or what are your influences?
My friends influence my work a lot; especially lovers. Any sort of immediate environment or mood change directly effects my work. I'm very emotional, so I like to incorporate my feelings into my work to be able to have a release for those emotions.
On your website you say you work both with instant photography as well as 35 mm, what about these mediums do you enjoy over digital?
I like that I don't have to mindlessly take 500 photos; although, I did start photography with a digital camera. With film, especially instant, it's just one copy of that moment ever. It might get destroyed in a flood or house fire and it will always remain that one out of one.
You also work a lot with nudity, especially with women, how do you approach nudity in a way where it doesn't become objectification, especially yourself identifying as a woman?
I've actually been called out very recently for 'sexualizing women' and never posting any photos of MYSELF naked. But, I've never thought about it that way. I'd like to think I'm not a creepy guy (this is only for the weird male photographers) that's trying to sleep with my female subjects and that they are comfortable with me to share their bodies. I love women and I love the female body. It just looks way better than a naked boy's body to me! Also, I honestly enjoy taking photos of boys way more. They're not as hard on themselves, because there's no makeup or 'glam' to hide behind.
Obviously men are also as self conscious as women but there's something I get from my guy friends that I don't quite get from my homegirls. That's just me and my opinion on my subject matter. My girlfriends get naked on their own accord; they want me to make them feel sexy. At the end of the day they get the photos back and let me know if I could share them with the world or not. I would morally feel bad if they didn't like a naked photo and I posted it somewhere on the internet. I want them to see the beauty that I see and feel confident in their shape.
When you go out shooting is there something that you look for specifically or do you just go out and shoot? What's your process when it comes to street photography?
I go out for a walk and just shoot. Most of the time I don't have a destination I just walk until I see something that captures my attention. But, the main part is always having a camera in my bag to never miss a moment. There are days that I leave the house without one and honestly it's the worst, because I miss so many moments.
What advice can you give to new photographers?
Everything is so fast paced in 2018, but don't get discouraged. Also, don't be scared of trying something that someone else has already done. You can't be them and they're not you, so it's ok to shoot the same idea. It'll always be YOUR photo. Photography is about conveying a feeling or an emotion. If you make your audience feel something with your photo then you're winning. It's never about how many 'followers' you have or how many 'likes' you get; it's about you, yourself, being satisfied with the result and sparking an emotion in the people that look at your photos.