Interview with photographer Yoram Attia

“When the picture arouses the viewer’s emotions you know that it served its purpose.”

2016 #14 Feb Y AttiaTo begin, where is your home at the moment? How long has photography been a hobby and career of yours? What motivated you to get started? My name is Yoram, I am 27 years old, I live in a quiet city near Paris surrounded by forest and fields. It is a completely different place but close to Paris. I love running in the forest, thinking of possible future projects or just relaxing.

I think photography is like drawing. I remember when I was a child I was drawing my visions. I can say that photography is like the beginning of childhood, when you draw your first scene, thinking about perspective and space, transforming your vision into “reality”.

I first used my dad’s film camera, a basic one, mostly for family holiday pictures. Later, I bought my first real camera when I got my first job, it was 3 years ago. It was a Sony Nex 5, the first Sony hybrid camera. I started taking pictures of Paris, its streets, the Eiffel Tower and my first long exposure pictures. I was able with specific setups to change the vision of the scene that I was enjoying. I then started taking pictures of friends and family members, it was funny. That’s how I started taking portraits.

How does living in such a beautiful place affect you and your photography? Paris is a magical city to visit and live. The typical Parisian places like Montmartre near the Sacré Coeur, Jardin du Luxembourg and Les Tuileries, are magical. Not to mention all of the pubs and awesome clubs Paris is known as the Fashion capital of the world, and as a portrait and fashion photographer you cannot ignore it. When you are scouting to find some great places for an upcoming shoot, you feel this mood and sometimes remember “Oh I saw that place for this ads campaign!” What I love doing in Paris is to get away from tourist streets and find places where the viewer will feel and know that this photo took place in Paris even if it is not obvious.

Yoram, how would you describe your signature style for our readers? I do not think that I have a signature style. Depending on my vision of the image I can go black and white, choose warm or cool colors, or make a hard or soft contrast. What I try to keep consistent is simplicity, from the pose of the model to the light.

What is the best part of being a photographer? As a photographer you are part of a competitive and challenging world where you must constantly push yourself to grow. Challenging myself is one of the best parts of the job.

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Where do you take your ideas for your shoot? What is the source of inspiration? My ideas are inspired by movies, music, magazines or just walking on the streets observing the people and places. I also am inspired by other photographers.

What are the most important lessons you have learned about portrait photography so far? There is more to learn but the most important lesson I have learned so far is to be aware of the model’s facial expression.

How is photographing a portrait in black and white different to color? In black and white photography, the viewer’s eyes are not disturbed by color, we see just luminosity, the eyes are more focused on the model. You can also keep the post treatment more simple, rawer…it is easier to drive the viewer’s eyes where you want. In color portraits you have to take care of skin tone, complementary colors.

2016 #14 Feb Y Attia WEB3 cutWhat’s your favorite light source, and why do you choose it? I like softness. Outside I like to shoot during sunrise or sunset or a cloudy day.  Sunrise or sunset gives the image that warm feeling, adding beautiful shadows and softness. You can also play with flare and color. A cloudy day lets you shoot where you want, as the light will always be soft and beautiful.

With artificial light I like to use an octabox or a beauty dish.  I mostly use Octabox to achieve both soft or harsh light. I use a beauty dish (white inside) when I shoot portraits, which gives me just the right contrast and complements the skin. It is a very simple light that you set up with a clamshell and are good to go.

How important is post-processing in the creation of your images? How much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos? Could you briefly describe your workflow? Post-processing is very important; it is when you breathe life into the photo.

A typical shoot is about 1h for the makeup and 1h for the shoot. Retouching is about 1h or 1h30 per image.  I start by using Capture One to adjust color balance and exposure. After, I open my image in Photoshop to adjust tones and contrast. Finally, I start retouching the skin (Frequency separation, dodge, and burn) by checking its saturation to have an even skin tone.

What has been your favorite session to date and why? That’s a hard question. I liked every shoot I did, but my favorite session so far was for a model agency in Paris. We began in the studio and went after to Disney Village near Paris. I always wanted to do a cowboy inspired photoshoot which we did… and it was awesome!

2016 #14 Feb Y Attia WEB2Which would be the first three things you think about when you start shooting? I start by getting to know the model and make sure that she/he is comfortable. After, I am thinking about the overall scene and give to my model(s) some direction. Finally, I take my camera, adjust the settings and we are ready to start the shoot.

Do you plan each photo out or are they created more organically? Sometimes I like shooting more organically. I would grab my camera with no plan, no mood board, no MUA and shoot just for fun. Sometimes I try to plan everything, the place, clothes, make up, etc., if there is a specific project that I want to do.

What is one last impression you want to leave in your photos? When the picture arouses the viewer’s emotions you know that it served its purpose. The picture talks to the audience. It makes them escape from the reality…

Where do you meet your models? Do they tend to be people you know, or strangers? Mostly through social networks, both strangers and people I know.

How important is your relationship with your models to the creative process? It is everything; having a good relationship with your model is essential. The model has to understand what you want to achieve and adopt the concept of the shoot.

Yoram, what are the biggest challenges do you experience in photography field? My biggest challenge is to grow as a photographer. The photography world is ruled by word of mouth. If you want to succeed you have to contact the right person at the right moment, “time to market’. Sometimes I see very talented photographers that cannot live from photography. I think the biggest challenge is to make a decent living life from photography and you need also business  skill.

What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far? My first editorials shoot for an American brand. This was stressful but I will always remember this moment with a creative team.  We went inside a beautiful place shooting all the day with a gorgeous model, the photos were awesome, and all the team was happy.

2016 #14 Feb Y Attia 4Where can readers see more of your work?

You can contact me here :

Instagram : @yoramattia

Facebook: Yoram Attia Photography


email: [email protected]

How do you choose which images you ultimately provide to your clients? In my pictures I am looking for emotions, that is my first filter. Then I look for technical stuff, if the focus point is right, the composition of the picture, the color, balance, etc.

What would be your advice to those who want to start doing portraits? Start to grab your camera and just takes pictures of friends, family or even stranger. Analyze your pictures and look for emotions in the eyes of the model.

On the technical side take a 50mm lens with a wide aperture or more not to deform the model face. I advise using an 85mm F1.8 lens to start, this is my lens for shooting outdoor portraits.

What are your future goals or plans? My future goals are to get more published works and make a decent living from photography. I would love to work on high fashion campaigns. I am also thinking that photography can be a tool against discrimination as such I am currently working on a personal project against racism that I would love to exhibit this spring.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not behind a camera? Besides photography, I like to exercise and hangout with friends. Having a social life is very important as a photographer. You must take time for that.

And the last question, if you had one wish… I recently left my 9 to 5 job, and took the risk of pursuing what I love to do, photography.

Inside me I know that was the right choice to make. It is not easy to leave a “safe” job. I had to go back to my parents’ house.

My one wish is to succeed as a photographer and have my own studio.  Basically live from my art.

Tell us one surprising thing about you? When I was younger, I was very shy, talking with stranger was hard for me. Photography helps me to be more comfortable with people. It was difficult at first but nothing can stop you if you want something. In life it’s you against you, just that.

Thank you, Yoram.

Published February 2016: BUY NOW

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