Mehmet Ildan once said, “London and Fog. When these two come together, it is time to be a writer”… or perhaps a photographer. London photographer, Hassan Khazma, both embraces such clichés and challenges them. He is drawn to the flow of the city, to the pockets of people densely populating the spaces above and below it. He moves along the periphery observing, recording… blending in with the subjects and characters that tell his stories. How best can I describe his work? Khazma’s frames are provocative containers filled with curious narratives of a city we thought we knew.
I work, live and breathe London, so it is only fitting that I translated a dynamic urban environment for the past few years into a hobby and passion, which I hope continues to evolve. My style of photography really stems from the type of environment around me. I aim to bring to light subjects and characters that represent the city yet don't immediately reflect a common view of it. Photos can tell stories, in essence everyone has an interpretation. I feel like through such a medium we can all find some common ground."Hassan Khazma
Kujaja: What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?
HK: When I do get the time and opportunity, street photography is by far the most interesting way for me to shoot. Open public spaces where people flow or congregate. Blending in and shifting around such a dynamic environment is a big challenge. Most of my street shots are converted. I feel this lends a dramatic edge to interesting characters and allows the viewer to interpret the shot without colorful distractions. The whole point of the shot is, how does this shot make you feel, and can you interpret some of what I'm trying to convey?
Kujaja: How did you get involved in street photography?
HK: I really started street shooting on long walks I take through the city. Gradually the camera I borrowed from my brother would accompany me more and more. I was beginning to understand how interesting people and objects become the more I shot and this grew into a passionate hobby.
Kujaja: Can you identify a recurring thread in your photographs?
HK: London on the move. Most of my street work is London-based and is characterized by me moving alongside this dense and overpopulated city. I think a recurring pattern in my work is the view of a commuter which is really central to my profession and every day norm. The way we see each other in constant need to get from A to B as quickly as possible will differ if you stopped and looked around… maybe even find some common ground with people, those different or who seem similar initially.
Kujaja: What is the most challenging part about being a photographer?
HK: Bad timing and not being able to get the shot you want. There are always better and more interesting perspectives and angles for a shot, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have. Overthinking may work to your detriment.
Kujaja: How do you choose the places you go to photograph?
HK: I let whatever my plans are for the day guide the type of shooting I will do. Mostly I will go on long walks after work and let whatever I see and interact with be the deciding factor, randomizing my shooting day, blending in.
Kujaja: What are your photography must haves?
HK: A good camera strap, and a fully charged battery of course.
Kujaja: Do you think gear really matters when trying to make that great picture?
HK: For me it depends on what you shoot. I personally only use two (cheap) lenses, a fixed prime and a zoom lens with a camera I bought from a friend. Most modern DSLR's offer great image quality at a very affordable price. In terms of B&W street work, this is very achievable. For wildlife and nature shooting, of course bigger, heavier, and the latest lenses and camera sensors will make quite a difference with image quality.
Kujaja: What is your best photography tip?
HK: Experiment, don't be afraid to shooting in full manual, get comfortable using manual focus and let other people look at your work. Don't be afraid to get close to people. Ask their permission and respect it.
Kujaja: What are your photography weaknesses?
HK: I simply don't shoot enough or don't find the time. Whereas other photographers spend a great amount of time getting that shot they desire, I always feel like a shooting session should be part of the day, and not exclusively all of it. I often feel like this is beneficial because I don't plan to shoot something specific so this makes it both interesting yet limited.
Kujaja: RAW or JPG and why?
HK: RAW, adjusting images is better, and storage space is getting cheaper.
Kujaja: Can you describe your post-process workflow?
HK: Backup my RAW files, import them to my Lightroom library. I then select a batch that interests me and usually leave it to simmer for a week or even longer. In terms of post, processing in Lightroom. As a general rule I spend a maximum of 10 minutes editing a shot.
Kujaja: What is your best post processing tip?
HK: I suggest not spending more than 10 minutes post processing a photo. It's always better to leave a photo and forget about it for a week or more so that you come back to it with a fresh perspective. If you feel like the shot isn't working out, don't persist with it.
Kujaja: Many photographers feel that we're all inundated with images thanks the web in general. Have you seen a change in the way people interact with your photos because of that?
HK: Not really, but then again I am more of a hobbyist/amateur. I don't feel like I need to compete. The explosion of Instagram may let some photographers feel like real photography is being debased, but it has also exposed more people to this art.
Kujaja: Has social media played a role in your photography?
HK: It has helped expose my work to many people. I went through quite a few websites publishing my work, improving and learning and I still am. It certainly is one way to stay encouraged.
Kujaja: How has photography changed you as a person?
HK: The way people interact and behave is something I pay more attention to and as a result this has affected my decision making. I spend far longer assessing a situation, you find yourself asking questions, pondering and wonder if others find it interesting. Looking for the finer details, the interesting or provocative aspects and how you shed light on the issues in question. The more time I invest in my shots, the greater the discipline and common ground I discover.
Kujaja: Thank you for this interview Hassan.