The Thousand Words: Clara Abi Nader

A picture tells a thousand words... and we are here to tell you a few more in our ongoing series 'A Thousand Words' where we dig through the vault of talented photographers at Aperture Tours and get them to open up a little about some of their favourite images. 

In the Oven

Barcelona, by Clara Abi Nader

In the Oven  PHOTOGRAPHY: Clara Abi Nader • Canon A1 • FUJICOLOR SUPERIA 200 • 50mm Ƒ/1.8 @ • Ƒ/8 • 1/500

In the Oven
PHOTOGRAPHY: Clara Abi Nader • Canon A1 • FUJICOLOR SUPERIA 200 • 50mm Ƒ/1.8 @ • Ƒ/8 • 1/500

The position of that lady completely drew me, the way she was sitting, her tilted head, one elevated leg, her eyes closed. She looked so peaceful in a hectic place.

Whenever someone asks me what kind of photographer I am, I find it hard to answer. I enjoy so many areas of photography that I do not like to define myself in one category. What I do know is that I am interested in people; this leads its self to fashion, conceptual, reportage – all of which I shoot – but street photography really steals my heart. 

I took this photograph on the famous Barceloneta beach in Barcelona. I fight to capture the expression of beauty in people, their personalities, their culture, their story. Something that I truly dislike is when older people are portrayed negatively, with strange facial expressions... that basically can be seen when the photographer acts in a disrupting way rather than in a subtle one. I try not to portray only one person, but rather look for a scene. In the end, my aim is to portray someone in a specific moment, in a specific space. How does the space represent them? What are they giving to that space? 

Here, my main subject is obviously the woman sunbathing, but the shot is also about her surrounding; in the rear we see people working out, another woman is reading, another about to sneeze, and then most of all, that hand in the foreground. Most of my photographs also have missing information, this adds another layer of mystery and makes us question why is this here? Is it an accident? Or is it on purpose?

There is nothing hugely technical about my photography generally. Whenever I am on the streets or on my travels, I bring along my analogue camera; I absolutely love my Canon A1 and its 50mm lens. Why do I shoot on film? Definitely not because it is hip and trendy again. I have been shooting on film since I started, in fact, this is how I got into photography. What I like about it is the process of framing, thinking and exposing. I do not have the immediacy that digital offers and I like that. If I were to review all of my contact sheets, you could see that most of the time, I take one shot for everything that I see and that makes me very proud I must say.
I am not sure what people think of it, I never asked. What matters to me is that I feel confident enough about it and that I am able to share it!


Photographer's Profile

NAME: Clara Abi Nader
BORN: Beirut, Lebanon
PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE: Street/ Conceptual/ Social/ Photojournalism/ Fashion/ High Art
I guess I could say my prominent style of photography would be Street, but my work covers landscapes, depending on my location, and also fashion, reportage and some conceptual. 
INFLUENCES: I have many influences but I could name: Raymon Depardon, Martin Parr, Gary Winogrand, Elliot Erwitt, Vivian Maier would be just a few.
FAVOURITE PLACE TO SHOOT: I think my current obsession is to go back to Sicily, any season, any city, I just want to see it all.
HIGH POINT: I do not think there is one moment that felt like an epiphany rather a process of my progress in time and gaining experience and maturity. I believe that my work will keep evolving over the years and perhaps my vision will change along the way.
LOW POINT: The curve keeps changing endlessly. There is always a high point, a boring one then a lower one. Mainly it is about self-doubt, what I do and why I do it. One of them right now is about this new project I have finally started after many years related to the street photos I do in Paris that I named "Clara dans la rue". I guess I just have to give it time to grow slowly. 
I never had any gear stolen luckily, I always keep an eye on my belongings in all situations. I try not to attract attention as much as I can, which is key in street photography!
TOP PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Always shoot, don't think twice, don't hesitate. I have made that mistake too many times and keep regretting it. Better end up with a bad photo than a no photo at all.

INSTAGRAM: @claraabinader

Clara Abi Nader is is a photographer with Aperture Tours in Paris. Join her on a tour of Paris to learn more about the art of street photography, and your camera too.