Membrillo © Tariq Dajani

Tariq Dajani was one of the photographers chosen in the 2018 Rfotofolio Selections. 

Rfotofolio is pleased to share his work.

Would you please tell us about yourself?

I was born in England to a Palestinian father and English mother and spent my formative years moving between different countries in the Middle East and Europe. This diversity of cultures and traditions shaped a certain understanding of my environment and an emotional response to it. I have since come to realise that the main question I have in life, perhaps like many others, is: who am I in this world and why am I here?

Earlier in life, I moved from visual art to music as an outlet for creative expression. Later I returned to imagery and settled on photography. Over the years, I learned my craft working both as an artist and as a commercial photographer for advertising and design agencies in London, Stockholm and Dubai. I gradually found a style that I felt comfortable with which I hope speaks with the truth and emotion that I was seeking.

I currently live on an organic homestead in Galicia, north-western Spain, with my wife, our beautiful Arabian horses and our regal Saluki dogs. Alongside my ‘farm duties’ and riding our horses, I continue to pursue new art projects, have exhibitions and lead regular photography and printing workshops.

Where did you get your photographic training?

While my earlier education was in science and engineering, I returned later in life to study art and photography at London’s University of Westminster. At the same time, I started working as a photographic assistant to a few of London’s top advertising photographers. Academia fed my mind and creativity, the advertising photographers taught me technical photographic skills. Putting these together provided me with the means to do the sort of things that I was interested in.

Why do you create?

I suppose it is simply because I have a need too. If I were a musician, it would be music. As it is I’m a photographer and printmaker, so I make pictures to express something that I cannot express otherwise.

Castañas © Tariq Dajani
Libro © Tariq Dajani

Who has had an influence on your creative process?

Various people I have known personally influenced my thoughts and feelings along the way. And of course there are numerous artists of all kinds, some well-known, some not-so-well-known, who have fed into my being in one way or another. There really are too many to mention.

I have always found it difficult to answer questions about a main or favourite person or thing. Life is like a river, constantly moving and changing. It doesn’t remain the same from one day to another. Influences on my creative processes are the same. Somebody who was valuable and important at one point, was replaced by another as I progressed with my development.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.

A seemingly simple image called Fork by Andres Kertész has always fascinated me. I cannot say what it is about it that captivates me but it does. I am sure that there are some academic explanations about whether it is or is not a good picture but I’m not interested in them. I am more interested in how something makes me feel than how it can be deconstructed through academic theory and discourse.

What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?

Well actually it was a series of four images that I did of a jazz drummer and bits of his kit when I was first starting out. I shot the images on 5×4 Polaroid Type 55 and was pleased with the results. Looking back 20 plus years, I realized that I am still pleased with them. At the time, however, I was trying to get some commercial work. The images were totally rubbished by the various art directors and designers who I showed them to. They were looking for something else that could be used to sell products and concepts! While the images didn’t help me secure any commissioned shoots, they did help me to see the gulf between commercial needs and free artistic expression. I knew where my heart lay, so I pursued my art projects separately and quietly, knowing that someday I would be able to concentrate solely on that.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

I’m always happy to make new pictures, but the real pleasure is when they are realised into a tangible object, which would be a print of course, and preferably a gravure print.

If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?

Again, I haven’t ever really thought along these lines. I am affected by certain people’s work, but I am less interested in them as individuals. For instance, I love Goya’s work, but would I wish to spend a day with him? I don’t know, perhaps he would have been miserable to me!

If Jalaluddin al-Rumi, the Sufi mystic and poet were allowed into the category of artist, I would have liked to have shared a few glasses of wine with him.

How important is the photographic community to you?

I think it is important to belong in life, everybody needs to belong to a place, to people, to something that grounds and connects them. For my creative processes I have found that belonging to various photographic groups and communities over the last 20 plus years of being a photographer has been invaluable to me in the same way.

What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?

I believe that one will use whatever equipment is available if one has a need to create. Everything is just a tool to make something, and the whole purpose of making something, to my mind, is to create a feeling and a sense of awareness of something. In the past I used analogue photographic materials and tools. Today I use mostly digital technology to make images and an etching press for printing photogravures. I am far from being interested in new technologies and would quite like it if things could freeze to the extent that one could continue to use the same materials and tools for a long time to come. The most essential tool for me is what I have when I need to use it.

Is there something in photography that you would  like to try in the future?

There are always other things that look attractive, such as wet plate collodion and lith printing. But I decided quite a while ago to try to focus on one or two main areas and learn those well. For now I will concentrate on photogravure printing, and try to follow the wisdom of Henry David Thoreau’s words ’simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’.

Whats on the horizon?

2019 already promises to be an interesting year with a couple of solo exhibitions planned. One is of a new body of work that will first be exhibited in Jordan. It consists of photogravure prints with text and poetry by Khalil Gibran and Mahmoud Darwish written in Arabic on the prints. The other is of an existing body of work, from which the Rfotofolio images were taken, which will be shown in Córdoba, Spain. Other than this I shall be running photogravure print-making and mindfulness-in-photography workshops in northern Spain where I live.

Thank you Tariq Dajani.

To learn more about the work of Tariq Dajani please visit his site at Tariq Dajani.

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