Hello Ramzy Bensaadi, it’s a great pleasure to have you as a Featured Street Photographer for Street View Photography.
Could you please tell us a little bit about your personal background to begin with. Where are you originally from? Where do you live now?
First of all I’d like to thank SVP for sharing my work and for letting us appreciate other people’s work, as a lazy person it’s the best way for me to discover what’s going on :) I’m Ramzy Bensaadi, 32 years old. Basically I’m an IT Engineer (something that I don’t really like) I did a lot of different things, worked in IT, advertising and the airline industry as a cabin crew, so during the last couple of years I was based in Dubai. I’m almost finished with an MBA that I have started 18 months ago since I’ve been back home in Algeria.
Could you tell us the story of how you first got started in street photography?
I got my first camera in 2006, it was a Sony W7 and the pictures I shot were photo-journalistic in style since the images I had mostly been exposed to till then came from that field. I sold it in 2009 and got a new one in 2010, a Canon G11. I was in Dubai at that time, and traveling around the world opened my eyes to street photography, the freedom to take pictures without stress (we will come back to this) .. I bought a DSLR camera, a Canon 550D and a 50mm F/1.8 lens, before coming back home as I wanted to capture the streets of my country. Street photography is a therapy for us in a way, questioning, laughing.. different emotions even when it’s architecture.. That is why I like street photography.
Please tell us about your photography workflow and methods.
Well in my case, I don’t carry a camera all the time, I take it out with me when I’m in the mood for taking pictures, but even without a camera I’m taking pictures for the next session, I see things or places where I have not been and I return there at the appropriate lighting or moment…
What do you look for on the streets?
To be honest I don’t look for something specific, I’m interested in people most of the time. I like to do portraits, or put them in an environment that’s more or less chaotic, since we have a lot of old neighborhoods that is where I go most of the time for pictures.
Has your style of shooting changed very much since you first started?
I guess yes, since I didn’t learn photography my first takes were careless about framing and mostly focused on sensations or meanings but the story was too obvious. I give you an example, when I see pictures of people begging in the street that’s the kind of photography that I don’t really like, there’s one story, it’s straight away talking about misery and that’s it.. I did some of that kind when I started, now I can’t do that anymore.
Do you see your personality reflected in your work?
Everyone’s personality is somewhere in their work, photography is intellectual, you show different aspects of yourself, sometimes funny, critical, upset about something…
What are some of the challenges you face shooting in Algeria and how have you learned to overcome them?
For people who don’t know Algeria, we’ve been through a decade of terrorism from the late 90’s, at the time there was no Facebook, no Youtube.. no one cared in a way, almost 200,000 got killed, for most Algerians seeing a camera means you’re a journalist, at the time journalists were covering events and almost all the time with authorization.. The law in Algeria forbids almost everything regarding photography, if they apply it by the book even shooting at historical sites is forbidden. Adding to this in this period, hanging out with a DSLR is not safe in here, thieves can get you and harm you, police they can take you or the least they can do is stop and ask you why you are taking pictures (hobby is not an answer). All the time people ask me, “you’re a journalist.. no pictures I don’t want problems”. It’s not easy to have their faith, most of the time I don’t do what I want to do. When I see Tatsuo’s pictures I laugh, I imagine him doing this in Algeria..it’s just NO WAY.
Which other photographers are you inspired or influenced by?
Since I’m not a curious person I know just a few photographers like HCB for the classic names, there’s other ones I discovered on the web like Alex Howitt, Tatsuo Suzuki, Jacob Aue Sobol and I see a lot of amazing work also coming from Algerian photographers.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give people who are just starting out in street photography?
My experience is too weak, I feel I’m starting too, I need more advice than I can give :) My advice is be inspired from others, there’s no harm but don’t try to copy, accept feedback and be yourself.
To see more of Ramzy’s work please visit his site or Facebook page: