March 3, 2013

Magida El-Kassis Photography

Magida El-Kassis, a local Ottawa photographer takes viewers through a stimulating experience upon  the sight of her photographic creations. A graduate of  the School of Photographic Arts Ottawa, Magida El-Kassis is a burgeoning talent, winner of "Visa pour l'Image" and published in Taiwanese magazine Waterfall, Magida demonstrates creativity in all dimensions.

 She enjoys travelling and documenting anything that strikes her photographic palette. Magida also offers workshops to the creatively inclined, read my interview with the successful SPAO graduate.

What is your photographic style?

Whenever someone asks me this, I panic. It’s almost like putting a label on my work, when it is constantly changing. I will leave this open, and readers could take a look through my website and have their own opinion on what kind of style it is. However, I shoot with various formats: film, Polaroid and sometimes digital. 

Tell us about your photographic journey, what incites you to take a picture?

I photograph the everyday: people, places and things that inspire me on a daily basis. I tend to bring a camera wherever I go, especially when I know there is going to be something beautiful waiting for me.  I am in awe with the beauty of simplicity.

When did you start photography and why?

I started taking photos in high school, we had a black and white course with a dark room and I couldn't pass up the opportunity of giving it a try. I had this inspiring art teacher who always encouraged me, being so young and so passionate about everything, I just had to translate my inspiration into imagery.

Tell us about your workshops.

A couple years ago, I thought I’d start introducing photography workshops in hopes that eventually photography will be my full time career. I’m hoping to expand a bit and will hopefully be running a course eventually at SPAO (School of the Photographic Arts Ottawa) and also through Wallack’s.  Contact me if interested!

How does one find their photographic style? 

Shoot, shoot, and shoot more. The more you practice, the better you get. Don’t think you’re not good enough, it’s a photograph; you could make it look any way you want. When I first started photography school, we were fed imagery daily,  it opens up your eyes and makes you see the world in a different way.

I don’t think I found my style until I graduated from SPAO, I still don’t think I have perfected it. I see work on a daily basis that blows my mind, it just pushes me to work harder and to create imagery that I will be able to look at and enjoy.

When did you start the Elk blog? Tell us about it.

Elk started right after high school, I went to photography school and my sister, Samira went to art school. The more we learnt, the more we just fed off of each other’s creativity, and just started coming up with all kinds of collaborative ideas.

Elk is an idea we hope to turn into a company in the next five years. It will be something along the lines of being a platform for artists to come to when in need for a workspace, a positive environment for sharing ideas and offering creative workshops to the public.

  Tell us about your “Visa pour l’image” experience?

"Visa pour l’image" was a contest thrown by SPAO, The French Embassy linked up with the school and put on a contest where students would have to create images to a topic they proposed. The contest I won: we were to create a documentary style image. I chose to take a photograph of my mother after a long day at work, I wrote up a personal piece on her and they loved it!

They sent me off to France where I spent 10 days exploring a huge photography festival that was happening in Perpignan; it was absolutely amazing. I ended up leaving the group I was with, to explore more of France, I didn’t want to be limited to one area, so I back packed to various little places, practiced my french and met amazing people along the way.

Tell us about your roadtrip to America and the Mugshots expo?

I went to America with my sister Samira, I told her I really wanted to explore some of the states and take a series of polaroids that I could produce into a show, in hopes to sell work to raise money for an upcoming photo trip to Lebanon. We drove from state to state and just took photographs. 

Upon return from my trip, Apt 613’s "Support Local" happened to be asking for submissions, so I sent in my name and got paired up with Mugshots. At the expo, I sold every image on the wall and raised about $1,200 towards my trip.

Who are you artistic/photographic idols?

Rineke Dijkstra, Christen Meindertsma , Hasisi Park, JH Engstrom.

Any other upcoming projects?

Besides getting ready for my journey to the Middle East, I’ve been working on a few little projects with friends. A collaborative call and response book project with a friend and amazing artist Dante Penman. Also a few little projects with my good friend Andrew Szeto who just launched his company Maru.

Check out this interview with Magida El-Kassis by Maru

Maru Presents: Magida El-Kassis from Maru Brand on Vimeo.

Follow Magida on Twitter

Photography: Magida El-Kassis

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