Amirhossein Sheikh: “What matters to me is to establish a deep connection with the subject always maintaining a good composition”
Amirhossein Sheikh comes from a great cultural background that has affected him photography-wise but doesn’t lead his diverse works to a specific path, thus rendering his photographs neutral and devoid of any possible direction.
You started off your first year on Instagram beautifully, but also kind of timidly and exploringly. And then you took off! Were you trying to find your way photography-wise?
When I put my first posts on Ιnstagram I had actually started photography mostly as a hobby. It seemed like an interesting pastime to me during the time; besides I had a good feeling discussing my photos with my friends and appreciated receiving feedback on my work. Going forward, I discovered this strong attraction towards photography, and sought to pursue it in a more professional fashion; until a point that I stopped enjoying my shots like before and began to feel bored, getting this feeling, like I was repeating myself over and over again in every single photo. This was the main reason behind my taking off Ιnstagram for a while. I started to shoot less frequently trying to practice various approaches and exercise more diversity in my works in order to get the satisfaction I wanted out of it just like before.
From minimal to ‘theatrical’ to street photographs and so many other modes. Would you say that you have a style or that you are partial to a specific one?
I don’t consider myself a follower of any particular style; yet you can see quite a variety of those in my works. What matters to me after all is to establish a deep connection with the subject always maintaining a good composition. I will use any style as long as these points are achieved.
Your preference to black and white photography is quite obvious. What are the elements that allure you to it?
My preference towards black and white photos originates from what I feel inside and the way I see the world around me. In other words, my very personal perspective in life. Besides, contrast and contradiction are best shown in black and white; as it can easily be noticed in various elements of my work, depending on my feeling at the moment of shooting.
Hardly never can I guess the origin of your photos, mainly because they seem so ‘neutral’, so…universal if you like. Is this attempt on purpose?
Definitely! Maybe the reason you can’t guess where the ideas behind my photos originate, at the first glance and that they seem neutral to you, is that I really like to leave it to my audience to explore what I experienced at the moment of shooting, for themselves, without giving any direction to their thoughts and clouding their judgement.
Do you let your cultural background affect you as a photographer?
Without a shadow of doubt. The place and culture I grew up in has certainly had its influence on the way that I see and interpret the world around me and thus the formation of my personality as a photographer.
Your photographs that include the human element are given as a way of a report. Not for us to judge or reach conclusions. You just state the facts. But they are not reports of society’s problems. You mostly seem like the omnipresent eye of their moments. Am I right to think that?
I am not after revealing and highlighting any problem in society in particular. What I seek to accomplish in my work is to underline the day to day routines that people pass by them so easily. That has always been the main challenge for me in choosing subjects and elements of my photos. I try to be the eye that sees what others cannot.. So yeah! You’re absolutely right about that.
You don’t use tags, titles and you don’t have a bio. Despite these things, you have been prolific enough and the careful eye can understand and appreciate your photographic personality. Is this your way of telling us “please, discover my photos uninfluenced”?
As I mentioned before I don’t use tags and titles for my works in an attempt not to limit the viewer’s capacity to interpret or dictating any line of thought. I am trying not to affect any personal takes on the photo, because I enjoy hearing and talking about different personal perspectives and various ideas on my work.
“A football game turned into rhythmic gymnastics”. That’s what came to mind when I looked at this photo. Whether it was a happy coincidence or the result of patience matters little. What are your aspirations Amir?
The main thing that drives me towards a subject, finally resulting in a photo, could be referred to as observing and indicating the “lack” of small things in our modern society that may not be seen or felt by others in its full extent; for instance highlighting the loneliness of an individual amidst the crowd on a typical working day in the city centre. Mentioning the things that are fading slowly and quietly in our society, the nice human values and interactions that are no more pretty little details that are missed… well at least by me.
And sometimes I rejoice in finding such things, beyond a dark turn, in a narrow alley somewhere, where no one cares to look. Putting time and effort into these subjects will hopefully result in photos that I guess are somehow targeted for myself as the first audience, telling me: “Hey! Those small pretty things still exist out there on a dark corner of some forgotten alley. You just need to look the right direction.”
The photograph you particularly put your finger on is one of the latter. In it the closed door caught my attention as a gateway to future and its infinite probabilities. The children playing remind me of childhood’s innocence and pure happiness that I miss and feel somehow disconnected from. Watching children playing together regardless of ethnicity and skin colour. Black and white (my visual tool and element of choice) playing with each other like there’s nothing else happening in the world around them, this feeling of freedom and pure joy they take in what they do is actually the reason transforming this street football game into a rhythmic dance as you said.
And there I was, fortunate enough to be looking their direction in the right place at the right time, through my camera lens.
The interview with Amirhossein Sheikh was given on February 13th, 2017