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5 & 3/4 Questions

SKANDER KHLIF

CURRENT RESIDENCE: MUNICH

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: TUNISIA

www.behance.net/SKhlif

1. Describe yourself and your work.

I consider myself a street and documentary photographer. Or maybe visual storyteller is even more appropriate, as it’s not always about the street, nor is it always about documentation. But it is for sure about photography.

What I tend to seek and show is beauty, in an aesthetic and non-aesthetic way: a funny moment, an intriguing situation, an emotional instant, a historical event, a romantic scene, or simply an interesting everyday setting full of life.

2. How did you get started?

I started photography a long time ago when I was a kid, but it became a real love story right after I finished my engineering studies. Working in a laboratory, I mainly interact with machines, so going out with my camera and feeling and seeing what’s happening out there was very rewarding.

3. Which of your photographs best represents you and why? 

We hung this image, in large format, on our living room wall; it’s called The Shinjuku Man (below). I’m choosing it not because of the process but because of the results. It represents more or less what I like in a photograph. It has a very pleasing geometry and colors. It tells a story but doesn’t reveal everything—it allows the viewer to imagine his own story. The protagonist is also very visible, but no one can recognize him—probably not even himself. Intrigue and modesty are a combination I really appreciate.

4. What are the elements of a successful photograph, in your opinion?

What I’ve learned is that there is no answer to this question. That’s probably why photography is an art and not a science. There are maybe no rules, but there are a lot of parameters that, combined in a very coincidental manner, can help to make the magic happen. The keywords are: emotions, feelings, beauty, stories, intrigue, and uniqueness. 

5. What gear do you use?

I mostly carry a Fujifilm X100F (previously, I had a Fujifilm XPro-2). Even though I am highly thankful to Fujifilm for this light and powerful camera, I am not fully faithful, as I also use a full-frame Nikon D610—mostly for special cases, in order to overcome bad surprises like very bad light conditions. Lenses on the Nikon are a 1.4 50mm prime lens and sometimes a small zoom lens.

For postproduction, I use only Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You can do miracles with raw files in Lightroom.

5¼. As a street photographer who’s been all over the world, where do you most want to go next?

Some years ago I had a “bucket list” of places. Now it’s more about what’s happening at a particular place that interests me. Probably Havana, to document that historical area and the current transition before it completely turns into a standard Western area. 

5½. What historical figure or famous person would you most like to meet for a coffee and a chat?  

Some months ago I met one of my biggest idols, Peter Lindbergh, and even had the chance to shoot with him. For a coffee I would love to meet Elliott Erwitt. That would be, for sure, not a boring time—at least for me! If someone could make that happen, I would be thankful forever.

5¾. In one sentence (or less), what’s your advice for other street photographers?  

Be honest with yourself, emotional with your subjects, curious with the world, and generous with everyone.