Magnum photographer Moises Saman (b. 1974) is recognised for capturing powerful documentary images of conflict in the Middle East. The World Press Photo Award-winner is published in The New York Times, Newsday, TIME Magazine and more, and now moves into fashion imagery with PUBLIC, demonstrating the evolving nature of the genre in relation to culture and society.
A: Your documentary practice includes deeply human images of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the publication Discordia recording the turmoil of the Arab Spring and its aftermath. What informed the decision to move into fashion photography?
MS: I have always tried to challenge the rigidness of being categorised as a certain kind of photographer. To me it implies having to operate within a certain set of parameters that do not allow for the evolution and development of my practice. My fashion work is simply part of this constant yearn to evolve.
A: How does your experience in documentary translate into this new body of work?
MS: I think that working in a documentary approach, where so many of the variables that influence the final image are completely outside of your control, makes you hyper aware of your surroundings, of light, of the indistinct body language that might reveal a particular quality of your subject. These are all extremely helpful sensitivities that help me translate my visual language into fashion.
A: How do you think the fashion industry is changing to become more responsive, in a way which reflects 21st century culture, society and politics?
MS: Not unlike any other industry with a far and wide reach across different sections of society, fashion has a responsibility to, and could play an even greater role in being an agent of social and political change. That said, I see some encouraging signs in how the industry is embracing designers from different parts of the world, and in their efforts to curve abusive practices in manufacturing.
A: In a world where the medium is becoming democratised through smartphones and Instagram, what does the future of photography look like?
MS: To me it looks scary. If I was to take a guess, I would say that the future of photography lays in the realm of artificial intelligence, deep-fake, and surveillance.
A: What projects do you have planned for 2019?
MS: I am working on a book about Iraq that will span almost 15 years of work. I am also developing my first feature film documentary project, which is about journalism and the war on truth.
Lead image: © Moises Saman / Magnum Photos for PUBLIC