Curly Essence: Tell us your journey as a photographer (how it all began).
Amaal: There are a lot of vintage photographs around the house. I don’t remember how it happened but I became the person who looked after them. I also started to scan the pictures into my laptop. I’ve always been convinced that photographs are very important, especially in remembering the past.
I started taking portraits late August 2014. I can’t believe it’s nearly been a year. I’ve been learning through taking the pictures. I was always so nervous that I wasn’t doing the right thing because I didn’t have any training. Those fears are still somewhat present but I’m learning to have more confidence in myself. I started by taking pictures of mostly women of colour. I’ve started taking pictures of men more recently. There’s a comfort that I had with women that I had to work harder to achieve with the men I photographed. A lot of it also had to do with fear of pointing the camera at a man, telling him where to look. I hope I’ll be more confident behind the camera soon.
Who’s your favourite photographer, or the one you’re inspired by the most?
My inspirations change constantly. I don’t think I have a favourite photographer. I’m still thinking about how Ines Duemig’s ‘The ‘Apart Together’ series made me weep. It was so intimate. I’ve admired the work of Jindřich Štreit for a very long time. I can’t put it to words very well but I always come back to his photography often. I keep ‘Cartagena Forever’ by Hernan Diaz close to me. The pictures he took are completely gorgeous and I felt something instantly when I opened it up.
What’s your method of creating?
I take the person I’m photographing on a walk. It allows us time to get comfortable with each other. I started off by dedicating an entire afternoon to a person, going for tea or something and then taking the pictures. It means that the person is a lot more relaxed and the pictures come out looking better.
I never had a process. Sometimes I get asked how I choose locations and how I plan shoots. I’ve never been good at planning. I choose a random station on a tube map sometimes and we just walk around the area. There’s always something that catches my eye. There’s so much beauty everywhere. It just takes looking closer.