Photograph by Abdulla Elmaz featuring Saudi model Shahad Salman
From his magazine covers for some of the region’s most loved publications to his work for international ones like Vietnamese “L’Officiel” Australian “Vogue” and “Sorbet,” there isn’t a doubt Abdulla Elmaz’s images are striking and powerful. And whether featuring a stunning model lounging around with a big cat, or jaw-dropping outdoor spaces, ranging from the desert and seaside to the Eiffel Tower, the fashion photographer and art director’s work is all about sharing his feelings and emotions with the world. All that captured raw sentiment, including heartbreak, feelings of isolation, confusion, sadness, calmness and optimism, and its ability to inspire and make us stop and contemplate things is certainly one of the reasons Elmaz is a rising star.
Elmaz, who has Albanian and Turkish roots, has also worked for prestigious maisons like Dior and Gucci. Some of the Australian-born and raised photographer’s latest head-turning images have been for Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, while he has been approached by others like Hermes and Stella McCartney. Known for incorporating surrealism and the basics of classic Renaissance art in his shots, Elmaz was the mastermind behind Italian maison Valentino’s limited-edition collection for the Middle East campaign, one of his more challenging, and obviously exciting projects. While shooting the three Valentino Garavani by Pierpaolo Piccioli bags, the photography whizz had to take in mind they were later going to be animated by animator Jiawa Liu.
Additionally, Elmaz, whose work stands out as he prefers to rely on natural sunlight and light up faces with light eminating from torches, has recently teamed up with giant online luxury fashion platforms Farfetch and Ounass too. And, naturally, his line of work means he gets to snap some famous faces, whether regional go-getters like Dana Hourani and Mona Kattan, or international modelling sensations like Duckie Thot.
Elmaz has told “Visual Pleasure” magazine that he draws all his images before shooting them for the best results. He is inspired a lot by music, life experiences, his relationship with the universe and his interest in space and time.
While Elmaz knew he wanted to be a photographer by the age of 17, he studied architecture for one year and advertising for two years to appease his parents. And it’s those painstaking lessons that focused on meticulousness while studying architecture that helped make the artist the perfectionist he is today. His architecture background is also the reason there’s a play between positive and negative space in his work.
After starting a photography career in 2013, Elmaz was part of a successful work duo for five years. When the partnership fell apart, he took a bit of a break before finding the different and unique style that has helped accelerate his success.
“All of my personal work is like therapy for me, it has to mean something. After I went solo, I did a shot I called “Imaginary Friend” about being on my own, and not having that person to rely on. Everything I have done that is my personal work has been part of my story,” Elmaz, who will hopefully be having an exhibition in Abu Dhabi in January, told “The National” newspaper.