The event is the first in a series of industry insider and expert talks.
Ask almost anyone who works in the industry: the memory of flipping through a magazine in the years when they were still discovering who they were and what they lived for will always be looked back at as an immensely profound experience, a genesis of some sorts. More than just pretty pictures, these images told them a story, and if they were lucky, even represented them and what they looked like.
A creative gathering
The first ever Vogue Talks of Vogue Philippines paid homage to this discipline by inviting internationally acclaimed fashion photographer Sharif Hamza. Hamza, whose works include covers for publications like The New York Times, GQ, Interview, Time, and Allure, and campaigns for brands such as Tiffany’s and J.W. Anderson, was also behind the cover of Vogue Philippines’ maiden issue, which featured Filipino-American model Chloe Magno photographed in stunning islands and rock formations around Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Held at Tarzeer Pictures, in Makati City, it was an intimate session where some of Manila’s most talented creatives gathered not only to hear the photographer speak, but to engage in conversation with each other as well. Attendees included Dinesh Mohnani and Enzo Razon of Tarzeer Pictures, Shaira Luna, Artu Nepomuceno, Cyrus Panganiban, and Colin Dancel, just to name a few.
Following opening remarks by editor-in-chief Bea Valdes and art director Jann Pascua, where Vogue’s values of diversity, sustainability, creativity, and optimism were highlighted, Hamza then talked about his experience in the industry. The British Filipino-Egyptian photographer retraced his steps with an air of gratitude, looking back at his time as an intern at Dazed & Confused to assisting top photographers and how it created opportunities for growth. Hamza eventually forged his own path, recognized for his usage of light and composition in both film and digital mediums.
A new perspective
Alongside his international accomplishments, Hamza still maintains a deep connection to his mixed-race roots; it bleeds, beautifully, through his work. “Fashion photography is not a purely superficial exercise,” he shared. “[W]e shape culture. By putting people who look like us on the cover of international publications, we are also shaping dreams.”
Hamza’s talk was heartfelt and intimate, as if everyone in the room was having a one-on-one conversation with him. His soft spoken nature and the careful manner in which he chooses his words makes it easy to understand why his subjects always look so at ease in front of his camera. During the Q&A portion, guests were eager to further pick his brain, asking questions that ranged from the best ways to lure your subject for a portrait to whether his idea of a good and a bad photograph has changed over the years.
Ultimately, it seemed as if where Hamza was trying to get to was honesty, a core value of his that has shaped his entire body of work. “The most important thing to ask is this: Do I believe in the picture?” he shared. Around the room, people nodded in agreement, eager to hear more from him.
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