Inspiration

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Member Spotlight: Finding the brutal beauty in black and white with Imed Eddine Kolli

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Imed Eddine Kolli is a 24-year-old photographer based in Algeria and to say his work is evocative would be something of an understatement. Specialising in harrowing, monochrome photos of people living on the fringes of society, Kolli is an exceptional and unique talent that we are truly honoured to shine a spotlight on.

Where are you from and how did you get into the industry?

Until recently I was a Fine Art online student at the Academy of Art University majoring in Photography, for which I earned an MFA degree. My real education, however, came when I was younger - from observing what was happening around me and observing that richness doesn’t come without struggle. I was looking for a way to translate what I was seeing through my eyes and photography became my natural voice in this very big confusing world.

I started to realise that photography has the power to change your perspective on life and surprise people with something they don’t usually see; sometimes even something they didn’t have any idea existed. It began to push my life in a dramatic direction towards telling the larger story of what it means to be a human. So I bought my first camera and that was the beginning of everything.

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Where are you based now and who do you work for?

For now, I’m an independent freelance photographer based in Algeria. It’s a beautiful country, full of culture and stories that I believe need to be told through my lens.

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  Explain your creative style and process?

You will find that I use black and white, light and shadow when I need a physical way to display emotions, faith, empathy, spirituality and hope. My creative style comes from street photography and is often about dramatic situations or viewpoints. Drama is created in pictures in many ways but a strong depth of field is always a key one for me. 

The most important talent for any photographer, however, is having a sharp eye and being aware of the environment around you. This means looking out for, not just colours, shapes, lights and shadows, but observing my subjects and how they appear and act naturally as well.

I meticulously sharpen and illuminate the eyes and other distinctive facial features in post-processing. The result in people is a compellingly piercing stare that not only expresses deep emotion but also seems to peer right into the viewer’s soul. The knowledge of my subject matter does help in preparing for that moment.

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Please provide one sentence about your spotlighted work on Creativepool

As with all my work, I decided to go with monochrome because black and white photography has always resonated with me, personally, in a more emotional way than colour. 

I chose Creativepool to display my work because they have the most powerful platform to not only help me to share my work but to let my inspiration extend to other creators and allow my passion to rub off on them. It also inspires me to stay one step ahead of my competition.

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How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Take any aspect of photography, and you will clearly see that it is still in the process of evolution; driven by better processor architecture, faster memory modules and enhanced software solutions.

I believe that technology has affected my photography so deeply, in fact, that it pushes my boundaries in whatever medium I’m working in (DSLR camera, Storing and Sharing, Digital Marketing, Photo Editing, Websites and even Printing). All of this software could add zest to an otherwise flat image. 

However, technology doesn’t replace talent and creativity. It cannot overcome bad technique. So yes, most of digital photography’s advancements don’t make you a more advanced photographer. They can make photography more fun. But the final outcome still counts.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

I would definitely start changing the description of what advertising agencies refer to as ‘Property release’ or ‘Model release’. Because I believe that this creative industry wasn't meant to buckle under any kind of standards or regulations when it comes to showing off your art. 

I would change the way the industry works and make it more about encouraging creatives to evolve into more artistic domains and to share their art with the world unconditionally.

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If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

Unfortunately, I can’t imagine my life without being an artist. Over the years now, I have realised that I cannot exist anywhere else. My soul is burning with a desire to spend the rest of my life capturing moments in a desire to tell the larger story of what it means to be a Human. Photographing the human condition was always my passion and that’s what I want to invest my life in.

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  What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

My inspiration comes from the people who have experienced the bitterness and roughness of this world: Injured people, homeless people, beggars and poor underprivileged people that I meet during my journeys are the models in my photography. I think my own sense of humanity is what drives me out on to the street.

What I do is photograph emotions, but what interests me most is developing a personal relationship with my subjects. I often tell people that in a strange kind of way I fall in love with the people I meet and I feel that they sense my own pain.

I’m photographing the initial moment when I first lay eyes on that person and my entire creative process is about building a relationship with the individual to get back to that starting point. Even though they all have this gloominess, I found them so uplifting and inspiring.

There was no self-pity whatsoever, there was this sort of joy and the pleasure of being alive, although they were in this seemingly terrible situations. The fact that they had that kind of resilience is what really makes me want to document their lives.

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What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

My work is intended to resonate with the viewer on a spiritual and human level and I try to pack in the metaphysical attributes too, which tell their own story. I try to provoke an imaginative and intelligent response from the viewer with a purely visual reference. 

I have achieved a couple of great awards, published photographs in newspapers and have been featured on multiple articles about my humanitarian work. But, the main work achievement that I’m proud of is that I made two books (Eternal Faces and Les Misérable en Algérie) dedicated to all these inspiring people who were left having to live under the red line of tenderness. I believe these books reveal the surreal and beautiful time I spent with my subjects. I’m proud that I was able to imbue them with the iconic soul of humanity.

How do you recharge away from the office?

I study a lot online, believing that I can find almost anything if I look hard enough for something I love. I also travel a lot. I’m always making new connections, discovering new places and new cultures. 

This actually helped me so much in mirroring the perfection of life's symmetry toward having fun: The very thing that many of us don’t wish to do because we believe it could negatively influence our image can often be effectively used to do just the opposite. This made me realise that there is no one right way of living, and it is more important how people are the same then how they are different.

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What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

I have always wanted this industry to change the course of history and change the world for the better. I hope in the future to include photography in school programs, to get children to visualise the world from an artistic perspective and to appreciate the beauty that the world can offer to people. 

I want to share this creative industry with people who are hungry for culture, people who want to get involved in fine arts and want to be able to capture life and accurately portray their desires aesthetically.

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What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives in the industry who are looking for commissions?

You have to convince yourself that you can't stop and settle; you have to make something worthwhile. Working really hard is what successful people do. Stick with what you feel passionate about, take chances professionally and always be consistent. 

I always come back to what Denzel Washington said in his motivational & inspiring commencement speech: “Say, thank you in advance for what is already yours, true desire in the heart for anything good is God's proof to you sent beforehand to indicate that it's yours already.”

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