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Ismail Zaidy, a promising photographer who takes Moroccan photography to the next level

At only 23 years old, self-taught Ismail Zaidy has raised himself as a promising photographer by taking Moroccan photography beyond clichés and beyond its own borders.

For more than a year, the international Medias talked about Ismail Zaidy’s work. Its style, both poetic and quirky, seduces beyond the borders of Morocco. Shots that the young photographer takes with his camera from the terrace of his family home, which he has since renamed studio Sa3ada( the happiness studio) with his siblings. And family is a big part of his work, at the center of Marrocon culture as well as its own life, to which he pays tribute in his practice. Through his aerial photographs with vibrant colors, he delivers an abstract and stylized portrait of his culture, which he intends to break free from traditional and orientalist motifs.


When did you start photography?

I started taking pictures about two years ago just before I finished my studies at university. My mum used to be a photographer so there was something bubbling up in me to continue the same thing. I began taking pictures of my surroundings upstairs in my terrace. After time, I started taking it more seriously. I used the means available to me to develop and grow.

What does your creative process look like ?

My creative process starts with finding an idea, then searching for props from various flea markets, and finally coordinating a shoot with my brother and sister. My siblings often pose for me and I admit to calling on my brother Othmane and sister Fatimazohra to navigate around a lack of models. Sometimes everything gets put on hold when they have exams, My family is my art and source of inspiration . They are my first supporters; they’re a major part of my work but also protective. My artistic influences also encompass my Moroccan roots. I’m very interested in the heritage that our ancestors left us.

You use a lot of pastel and pop colors in your photos. What kind of feeling do you try to convey?

I love pastel colours but since we, unfortunately, can’t see it in our daily lives, I try to transfer my love to 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.


In some of your pictures, a lot of characters happen to have their eyes or face cover with veil or fabrics. Why the use of this graphic element?

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.

There is something really off-the-wall in your style and yet traditional in a sense. How did you want to portray your Moroccan heritage?

I’m a person that does a lot of research into my art and photography. Photography in Morocco exhibits, or 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.


What other photographs or artists are you inspired by?

I am more inspired by success stories, I like artists who started from the bottom and made it to the top. My dear friend Hassan Hajjaj is one of my favorites, he started independently years ago, and now he is working with the most famous artists in the world. He is from a background like mine and I can recognize myself in his path.


What makes a good photograph according to you?

a good photography is a mixture of good story and a beautiful frame


See also

Marrakech museum unites socially conscious artists from around the globe

Published on 10 September 2020