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'Trial & Error', in conversation with Yasmina Hilal


On Her Fromation 

"It all started when my mother gave me my first film camera at the age of 15. That’s when I discovered my love for photography. Then I challenged myself and went to college to study filmmaking in Boston at Emerson college, where I experimented with film photography and where I minored in photography. There I earned the Visual Media Award and the Johnathan Hard Fridenberg Award.


From 2015 to 2018, I was a dark room monitor, which taught me the ins and outs of using camera equipment, like using 16 mm, which I use for most of my shoots. Then, my combination of analog techniques and alternative techniques flourished and I learned to do my photography, proper.

When I'm not doing my own shoots, I mostly work as a freelance photographer and I’ve been published in many reputable publications including, L’Orient Le Jour, Dazed, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. I was also commissioned as a fashion photographer for Fashion Trust Arabia, NPR, Highsnobiety, as a featured creative and more. I worked for Vice Arabia, I shot for Lebanese fashion designers such as Yasmine Saleh, Bokja, Maison Pyramid and more.


On Her Artistic Process
"My process starts with photographing my subjects intimately on film. Each film is processed and scanned from start to finish. From there on it’s all trial and error when it comes to collaging. I begin to use different techniques on my prints such as cutting, sewing or splicing without ever relying on digital manipulation.


It usually takes me a while and I don’t mass produce. I focus every time on different techniques, stapling, using ink, printing on different types of paper, acetate paper, parchment paper etc. It all depends on textures for me. Textures and layers are important in my work."


On Her Inspirations
"I like Diane Arbus, her portraiture of characters and odd looking figures. For me that’s the idea, to create this oddity. There’s this amazing collage artist named Dan Eldon that I like as well, I also admire Ren Hang." 

On Snakes
"The way the snake moves, it has no form, it just creates these beautiful shapes with its body. To me my work is kind of shapeless or shapeshifting. You can see the snake as having negative connotations, It can be poisonous, it’s slithering but I see it as beautiful in a way. It is loud but soft. It moves with elegance. It isn't threatening if you don't threaten it. That’s how I portray my work, It’s in your face but then when you look in detail you see how it moves together."

On Her Work
"I think my work is a reflection of myself. I sometimes use art as a form of trauma therapy. It’s really about the idea of being in a city that shaped who I am as a person. It’s about the obstacles you go through in life, the ones that create some form of scar. To me, scars are a form of beauty and survival.

I feel like my images aren't portrayed at their finest until they are chopped up or manipulated. To show that standards of beauty and standard living is not something everyone goes through. That’s my idea, to create these caricatures that are sometimes large, sometimes larger than life, sometimes double. Just to show the different aspects of things."

On Fashion Photography
"Fashion photography is nice because for me I've always had a love for fashion, I enjoy vintage wear and these types of shapes that fashion creates and that plays a big element in how the image stands out. It’s very important to me to go through it with a stylist first and see what works well and the composition. It really stands out when it’s done well. Fashion plays a big role in making my images stand out."

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