Mohamed Rafi, the renowned Conceptual Photographer believes that the most important factors or qualities to become an artist is patience and developing a taste. We all become artists thinking we have good taste, we believe that our perspective and interpretation are unique and different. So it is important to develop that habit.
I came across him a few months back reading an article about his life-story. Lost his friend in his arms when he met an accident with him. The doctors were not sure whether Rafi would be able to walk again. Lying in a hospital bed, immobile, Mohamed Rafi realized that he had only one big regret. Being unable to follow his passion for the arts.And that changed his Life.
I became a fan of him after that. Many thanks to him that he agreed to share his story with my readers here.
From bartender to Photography, how has been the journey so far Mohamed Rafi?
I did my graduation in hospitality management, and I specialized in Bar and Beverage. I started my career as a bartender in a five-star hotel without my parent’s knowledge. I loved every single minute of it.My first salary was 2500 rupees. And I was happy like never before.
One day I was caught red-handed by one of my relatives at the bar. Since I am from an orthodox Muslim family, my dad forced me to quit my job. One of my regular guests at the bar got me a job in Jet Airways. The funniest part was that I got selected through telephonic interview for my job at the bar. Even today I miss being behind the bar counter.
Jet Airways gave me a different experience altogether. I was a small town boy and the corporate culture was very new to me. It took some time to adapt myself to that atmosphere.Jet Airways gave me amazing people and they continue to be my closest friends.
I pursued my MBA in London and came back to India. I was forced to get a corporate job, but my heart refused. I fought back against all the stereotypical advice of people about how art not being a stable source of income.I was very amused with such perspectives towards art and artists. My bafflement led me towards conceptualizing this photographic script.
How you got introduced to conceptual photography and who inspired you?
Writing short stories was one of my hobbies. I had spent my school life around media based people, such as directors, cinematographers, and others. Among them was my uncle who was struggling to become a director. In fact, he was my first inspiration.
I didn’t know anything about conceptual photography back then, but I had an idea about digital photography. When I went to the UK for my higher studies, I had managed to buy my first SLR with earnings from my part-time job. Then I began photographing like every other beginner, shooting trains, flowers, landmarks, you name it. I realized that I was not writing any stories since I got my camera. Around then is when I came across the idea called conceptual photography also known as narrative photography.This was when I started searching for conceptual photographers and I found incredible artists.
One such artist being Alex Stoddardwho’s photography I fell in love with. Each of his photographs had strong stories and emotions and all of them were shot in his own style. I would say he influenced me immensely to become a conceptual artist. Another artist whom I admire greatly is Natalie Aniela Lennard, a UK based fashion fine art photographer who gave a different dimension to fashion photography. These two artists are the primary reason for what I am today.
Mohamed Rafi, What’s Your Dream?
My dream is to become a fashion fine art photographer, amalgamate fine art and fashion.I want to create more narrative based fashion concepts in the commercial & fashion worlds.
The things which are on your bucket list?
Travelling through-out India on my bike and making photo documentary called Poverty Line. A black and white photo series of people & villages which live under poverty line.I was always fascinated about Iceland and shooting a fashion series.
Some basic photography tips to my readers?
I am not going to give you any technical tips because it’s all out there on the internet which alone would not make you a photographer.
Look at other artist’s work, understand their workflow and style. Nothing happens overnight so be patient.
I will share one such habit of mine. All my conceptual images are not created in one or two days. The process takes much longer. When I come up with an idea, I get excited. But I won’t shoot it right away, I let the idea brew for a couple of days, because it helps me on improvising the raw idea to better execution.
And the most important and boring advice DON’T BE SCARED OF FAILING. Nobody is born a photographer, it is their mistakes that become a major part of their learning.
How often you go on a road trip with your bullet, your best trip?
It totally depends on the projects I get.When I am free, me and my bike, we both disappear. And it also depends on my riding partners, Ashwin&Renjith, We are those biker brothers, haha. But most of our trips are unorganized and unplanned.
For me traveling is all about coming out of our comfort zone, but we do make one properly planned long ride every year, the most recent one was when we rode from Banglore to Bhutan a couple of months ago, 15 days on the road.
My best trip was from Banglore to Mangalore, though it was short, it was quite special to me. We camped deep in a forest, in the Western Ghats. It was my 30th birthday that night and my friends secretly carried the cake all the way from the city to the forest for my birthday. That was so special to me.
Stay tuned to more such Inspirational Stories.
cheers to Life…