KB: Hi Dina, could you start by telling me a bit about yourself and your background?
Dina: My name is Dina, and I'm a photographer based in London. I specialise in portrait photography although I love capturing different scenes during my travels. Travelling usually inspires a lot of ideas in me that I often try to bring to reality. I'm of mixed cultural background which is another source of inspiration for my work. I like exploring themes of identity and cultural diversity in my portraits and I learn so much from my subjects that I always try to make it a point for them to tell me their story by asking them a couple of questions that they're free to answer as they like. I find that the answers to those questions complete the final piece of work so much more beautifully and offers another level of understanding who they are beyond the photograph.
“The process I follow is based on my never-ending state of wonderment when I think of all the stories we each have as individuals. Sometimes I come across people who say so much without a single word, and that fueled my desire to want to capture that”
KB: So, I wanted to speak to you about your photography and more specifically the process that you go through before taking portraits. So, from what I understand you can do to a method of getting to know your subject and then photographing based on that, can you explain that to me a bit?
Dina: That's right. The process I follow is based on my never-ending state of wonderment when I think of all the stories we each have as individuals. Sometimes I come across people who say so much without a single word, and that fueled my desire to want to capture that. I am aware that everyone is living their own chapters to their stories and have survived things and seen things I may never know anything about, but I can recognise that it made them into who they are. I try to bridge the gap between myself as the artist/observer and the human being in front of me who has agreed to me capturing their essence as best as I can, by listening more intently to what they wish to disclose to me beyond the photo session. An image is worth 1000 words, so if I can provide the best of both visuals and words and have the final body of outcome be personal and real to the individual, then I'm happy.
“It's important to me to ensure that art continues to be multi-faceted. It shouldn't just be to make you feel good or comfortable, it should do something more”
KB: I feel like during sessions in which you really try and capture the essence of an individual, it can tend to get quite deep. Has that ever happened to you?
Dina: Sometimes it does. Sometimes there is no need for deep discussions with words because our exchange within that photo session is already so telling. I feel privileged that I can create a safe space for everyone I photograph to feel comfortable enough to expose as much or as little as they want simply through their body language in each pose and their overall energy. There is already a mutual agreement between us to create art together, so that helps as an initial ice breaker. However deep the exchange goes after that is never planned and always worth it.
KB: What has been the best part of working in this sort of way that some might see as unconventional as opposed to just having a model for a specific purpose?
Dina: The human connection has been the best part, without a doubt. I knew from very early on that I wanted to go into this style of portrait work and tap deeper into the different creative ways to make the final body of work feel more complete and personal.
I think art is beautiful in so many different ways, but I like exploring further into how to make that art more inspiring, how it can make someone look and think twice and perhaps ask questions they otherwise wouldn't.
It's important to me to ensure that art continues to be multi-faceted. It shouldn't just be to make you feel good or comfortable, it should do something more. We all ask ourselves questions every day, our mind processes different thoughts constantly, how powerful is it then, if my images can cause that same process in the viewer, because of the energy I poured into my work or the receptiveness of the person looking at my work, or a mixture of both? That entire exchange is priceless for me. I wouldn't change it for anything, it's why I specialise in it as controversial or long-winded as it may seem to some, as long as it still means this much to me then I feel obliged to continue pursuing it and improving in it.
You can find Dina on Instagram @dina_laraki, and her photography on @portraitsbydina