Souhayl A is an influential artist-photographer living and working the main part of the year in Paris France. His specialty is Storytelling by Art-documentary and Streetphotography. Ranked by Fotoslovo magazine among the 10 most influential street photographers right now : N°4. His work has been rewarded and been exhibited internationally in many countries around the world. He is the Founder of Paris Street Photography Awards, a world-famous photo contest that promotes every year new emerging talents in the discipline of Street Photography. He is also the co-founder of the festival « Selma Photo Nights » and the Art Director of Les Nuits Photo de Pierrevert, one of the most important Photo Festivals in France and he also often collaborates with magazines dedicated to photography by publishing articles and regularly appears on prestigious jury lists for photographic events.
You are self-taught, how and why did you start photography ?
I spent many years observing others to try to understand their behavior. I learned so long before photography arrives in my life to decode and anticipate certain situations till the point of being able to predict them sometimes in advance. For do that you have to appreciate loneliness and learn how to take advantage of your solitude to transform it into a force. Photography and art in general have arrived in my life from the moment I began to work, earn money and travel. I would say that in my case photography is the last medium of expression I have found, resulting from a slow process of intellectual maturation.
Your work is not considered like totally documentary and it’s not fiction. How you define it ?
True, my photography often adopts a (post) documentary point of view. I often start my author projects, taking in consideration a real situation or some news item. However the documentary side in a project that I'm going to start will only interest me in a relative way. I find that the documentary has developed over time codes and reflexes that have locked the genre in a monolithic vision, which becomes a posterior monotonous. For the rest, the idea of the flirt between reality and fiction does not seem to me in contradiction with the era we are currently living in, where the reality sometimes goes far beyond fiction.
One part of your work concern street photography, what’s your approach of this discipline ?
I practice this discipline almost every day since more than 10 years now. I appreciate particularly the challenging side of getting closer to people without being realy invasive. Looking in the street for "Eye Contact" of people and get from them candid high emotional portraits has become my specialty. For do that, you should know your camera, learn how to read potential photogenic situations and not be afraid to argue with people in order to negotiate your photographs.
So you do not stage your Street photographs ?
Not when I’m practicing street photography, the photographs I select and publish for my project Walking Paris With Love, are never staged, it’s all matter of integrity. For me, it’s much more exciting to challenge yourself to capture real authentic moments even if it takes you long time to get them. If you stage your photographs, people will end up knowing it sooner or later. Then your reputation as a Street photographer will be compromised. Look at what happened to Robert Doisneau with all the legal proceedings he had during his lifetime when he became famous and also how historians and art critics are judging his work now.
Who are your street photographic influences ?
August Sanders, Lewis Hine, Richard Kalvar and photographers of the French humanist school like André kertész, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Izis or Marc Riboud.
Books - Publications :
2020 : Cover of Fotoslovo magazine issue N°4
2018 : Publication of « Walking Paris with love » in Link Lens
2018 : Publication of « Walking Paris with love » in Eyeshot
2018 : Publication of « Gangsta Dating Story » in Open Eye (page 192)
2017 : Publication of « Gangsta Dating Story » in True Africa
2017 : Publication of « Gangsta Dating Story » in l'oeil de la photographie
2017 : Publication of « Gangsta Dating Story » in P3 Publico
2017 : Publication of « Gangsta Dating Story » in le magazine C41
2016 : Publication of "Where is my mind..." in Lensculture magazine
2016 : Publication of "Extasis" + interview in Private magazine (version française)
2016 : Publication of « Bloody Friday » in Lens Culture magazine and in HP - De Tijd
2015 : Publication of Portfolio & interview in Chasseurs d'images n° 376
2014 : First publication in magazine PHOTO n° 507
2021 : Finalist photo contest Phodar Bulgaria
2017 : Double honorable mention in IPOTY, 4th place in categorie Street and Story
2016 : First prize Gold title Paris International Photo Awards PX3
2016 : Winner at the International Photography YouPic Contest
2015 : Winner Paris book machine - PARIS PHOTO Grand Palais
2015 : Double honorable mention MIFA Moscow contest
2015 : Second place « Urban DoArt » Contest. My photo page 51
2015 : First prize PHODAR Biennale Internationale Pleven Bulgarie
2014 : Winner Nokia « Aventures urbaines » contest.
2021 : Exhibition of the series « Moroccan Views » at the French Institute of Essaouira
2021 : Exhibition of the series « Walking Paris with love » at the Phodar Bulgaria festival
2021 : Exhibition of the « Walking Paris with love » project at GSPF gallery, Gutenberg Sweden
2021 : Exhibition of the « Walking Paris with love » project at Sonia Monti gallery
2020 : Exhibition of the « Gangsta Dating Story » project at the Grand Palais during Art Capital 2020
2020 : Collective exhibition “Body and emotions” at the Artistic Rezo gallery
2019 : Exhibition of « Gangsta Dating Story » at the P/CAS International Art Fair
2019 : Exhibition of « Gangsta Dating Story » at the Young International Art Fair - YIA
2018 : Exhibition of « Walking Paris With Love » in Iran Art For Peace Festival
2018 : Exhibition of « MAD MAN » in M.A.D gallery Milano
2016 : Projection at Photo Festival - Presence(s) Montélimar
2016 : Projection at Photo Festival - « Les Nuits d'Essaouira »
2016 : Exhibition at Espace Beaurepaire - PX3 Winners contest
2016 : Projection at Photo Festival « Les nuits de Pierrevert »
2015 : Exhibition at Festival Photo'Aix - Aix en Provence -
2015 : Exhibition at Photo Festival PhotoFeel France - Courthézon
2014 : Exhibition at Photo Festival - Presence(s) Montélimar
2013 : Exhibition at espace artistique rue Dénoyez Paris 20e - Paris
2012 : Exhibition at espace Beaux repères Paris 10e – « Le carnet de route du Che »
Other accomplishements :
2020 : Co-fondation of the photo festival « Selma Photo Nights »
2019 : Art Direction of the photo festival « Les nuits de Pierrevert »
2018 : Art Direction of the photo festival « Les Nuits d'Essaouira »
2018 : Collaboration with Singulart plateform.
2018 : Fondation of Paris Street Photography Awards
2017 : Fondation of Maghreb Photography Awards
2015 : Collaboration with Paris book machine 2015 - Onestar Press
2021 : Screening of the photo project « Walking Paris with love » at the Les Rencontres Photo de Marrakech festival : video
2016 : Bloody Friday & Days After – The highligths video
2016 : Highligths of "MAD MAN" : video
2016 : Gangsta Dating Story, the highligths video
2016 : Highligths of Photo Festival "Les nuits de Pierrevert" in video
2015 : Highligths of Photo Festival PhotAix, Aix en Provence in video
2015 : "The Trip Photographer" II : video
2015 : Highligths of Photo Festival Courthézon 26 - 28 juin in video
2014 : " The Trip Photographer" I : video
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