Hello Yassin Belahsene, we are honored to be able to interview you for our Featured Photographer format on www.streetviewphotography.net!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself to begin with.
First of all, I’d like to thank you very much for having invited me as one of your featured photographers.
My name is Yassin Bellahsene, Algerian, born in Algiers in 1982. I am 31 years old and I live in Bejaia city.
Seeing your remarkable work, I am curious where your creativity comes from?
Thank you. Actually it comes from my childhood memories, all that I lived and experienced myself when I was a kid. I traveled a lot with my parents around Algeria, and I still carry this treasure with my in my heard.
Could you share with us how you first became interested in street photography?
In fact, street photography is one of the realities that reflects our living, we can’t neglect that! It’s a kind of a direct mirror which explicitly explains and shows facts and truths of any country as far as their good and bad sides are concerned.
I also have to admit and confess that my dad was my great inspiration. He was an amateur of photography and inspired me. Thanks to him photography is something very special for me today.
You are Administrator for Street View Photography Algeria Tell us a bit about your experience, how it all started and where do you want to take it.
It is a good experience, it allowed me to discover many artists and learn about their work, their various visions, ways and horizons.
I knew about SVP through the internet, it was so impressing that I couldn’t stop watching the awesome pictures. My objective is to keep this community alive and to creating a vivid street photography networking in Algeria.
Do you think it’s more difficult to photograph in your country than in others, or that it’s more easier?
I’d rather say that photography culture is almost inexistent in my country, you are confronted to many difficulties when you are a street photographer in Algeria, and you are living different risks and constraints which very much needed to be taken seriously.
How has your style changed since you first started?
In the beginning, I was very keen on landscape photography, time after time and more practice I discovered my real path towards streets, whatever surrounds us outside. Until this day and with every day more I enjoy it. I also need to say that I had a previous hand on different styles such as landscaping as well as portraits, today it seems like a narrowed close vision of a young and new man towards the world of photography. Nevertheless, I keep taking non street photography images but my effort is mostly directed to tell the story of the streets.
What equipment are you using now and with what did you get started?
I am using a Nikon D300 but I got started with Nikon D50 in 2007.
Can you tell us more about the way you shoot on the streets?
I am a real photography freak, I just let the scene come to me. It’s a kind of conversation that happens between me and my aim to capture a scene. Sometimes I try to feel what is going to happen and prepare myself to get the shot just right and I noticed that trying to feel it is better than trying to figure it out.
What would you say characterizes your work in comparison to other street photographers? (we have noticed that you do a lot of portraits, talk a little bit about that if you don’t mind)
I think that each person has his own vision and perception of things. I also have to say that my notion of seeing the subjects I choose can be totally different from that of other photographers, simply because I have a different way of doing things; I’m a very confident person and the way I shoot my pictures highlights my personality.
Portraits, definitely sure, you know why? People’s eyes speak louder than everything else, I’m sure they’re the true judges.
I take lots of portraits in the street and I don’t mind how well they are. I just need to reflect the living facts which is a bitter reality the Algerian people have to face and my aim is to show that in their eyes.
Do you often interact with your subjects?
Sure, it’s a kind of visual interaction. I call it visual approach instead of sneaking up on people which might be something you come to regret here. I try to let the subject speak through their eyes which I seem to manage best with snapshots.
I also ask upfront some times. In this case I try to be very calm, almost slow.
Among your work, which is your favorite and why?
I have no favorite photographer. Each one of them has it’s worthy part of me and thus all the different feelings towards them are shaping my life. They all are a part from me.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from shooting on the streets?
I’d rather say especially for this question that they’re experiences learned throughout my street photography work. They allowed me to know about the risks involved of being a street photographer and how to avoid them as good as possible.
What would you tell a newcomer who asks for your advice on how to start?
When I am in front of my subject I don’t ever hesitate because the same scene doesn’t come again and will never come again in my lifetime.
Try to undertake your subjects with lots of will and take all the necessary time doing it. My good shots rely on practice, so try not to stress up, keep optimistic, work on your subject approach and keep shooting.
Thank you very much for this interview Yassin Belahsene.