Interview: Hasan Ibrahim

Our next interview is with Hasan Ibrahim.

Swanston Street, Melbourne.

introduce yourself; how long have you been shooting film?
Hi all! My name’s Hasan and I mostly shoot street photography. I’ve been shooting film for roughly three years. I picked up a cheapo Minolta Uniomat when I started getting interested in street photography (that’s what all the popular kids were doing). When I got the prints, I was hooked. Two months later, I had sold all my digital gear and that was that. It’s been roughly three years since I’ve been actively shooting film.

The main reason I switched to film though, was to try and perfect my technical knowledge of photography. I didn’t want to be just another guy who called himself a photographer (albeit a hobbyist) just because he knew what the buttons on his camera did. Now, however, I’ve realised that was a stupid reason but I would never have discovered film had I not made that mistake.

Swanston Street, Melbourne.

do you prefer colour or black and white? do you have a favourite film, camera or technique you like to work with?
I’ve experimented a lot with different films (35mm only – shooting street with any other format is a tad bit challenging) but since I mainly shoot street photography, black and white is what I prefer the most. Street photography in colour is quite difficult since so many other variables come into play and I don’t want to distract myself because of them. Black and white is just so much easier! Plus, you can get away with a lot more when shooting black and white e.g. blurry, grainy, etc.

Apart from those reasons, I love the timeless feel a black and white image has along with the fact that I’m a total grain freak! I’m an absolute sucker for gritty and grainy street images. It’s the imperfections that make a good street photograph so much more intimate and real for me.

I love point and shoots! I’ve got an Olympus XA that is always with me and an Olympus MJU II for when the weather’s moody. I’m forcing myself to become more obvious when shooting street (all that lurking around in the shadows makes you feel like a stalker after a while). One way to do it is to use a bigger/louder camera. And of course, what better big camera to shoot street with than a Leica M! I’m saving up for one and, hopefully, get it soon. Ahmad Sabra has graciously loaned me his Leica M4-P so that I can get a feel for a Leica M and see if I actually want one. I’m currently shooting with it these days and I have to say, the experience is simply amazing (yes Ahmad, I do want one!).

My favourite films are Tri-X and Fomapan 400. I prefer Foma more since it gives me slightly heavier contrast (compared to Tri-X) and large grain when I push it to 1600 and develop in 1+50 Rodinal. Plus, it’s cheap!

show us one of your favourite shots and tell us a bit about it – how did you take it? is there a story behind it?
I used to have a few favourite photographs before…but then I read Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes and it completely ruined me. Now I pick one from the thousands in my image library and feel that it’s “decent” at best. I am yet to be amazed by a photograph I’ve made. So here’s one of the decent ones.

Collins Street, Melbourne.

Like I said, I’ve been trying to make myself more obvious when shooting on the streets. Well, I don’t think I could’ve made myself more obvious than this!

There’s not much of a story behind this. This is from a test roll that I shot when I first tried using a flash on the streets. I’m a huge fan of Bruce Gilden’s work and I always wanted to try flash street photography in his style at least once…so I did. And that’s pretty much the entire thought process behind the image.

I don’t think twice before pressing the shutter when I’m on the streets and that is something I’m currently working on fixing (I have accepted the fact that I am no Daido Moriyama or Gary Winogrand).

show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other peoples’ photos?
My favourite has to be “Big Drift” by Iain Maclachlan.

Big Drift

I’m not excatly a landscape person but “Big Drift” is one of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen! It’s almost scary. The beautiful tones, the grain, the overcast clouds…it all just works. Everything goes hush around me whenever I view it. It draws me in.

What I enjoy most in a photograph is when it makes me feel like I’m inside the photograph, feeling the elements. With Iain’s photograph, I could feel the sand between my toes, I could feel being all alone, I could smell the atmosphere.

Question from the previous interviewee Daniel Setiawan:
Which photographers influenced you and how did they influence your photography?
This is a tough one for me.

There is a loooong list of photographers who’s work inspire me but I feel my current photographs resemble a mix of Moriyama and Klein’s street work. Klein’s habit of going in close and Moriyama’s absolute randomness.

I’m forcing myself to produce coherent series and slowly get rid of the “single image” altogether. For that, I’ve started reading up on Eugene Smith, Josef Koudelka, Marry Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, Alec Soth, etc. etc. The list is never ending.

I have noticed that I’m spending the most time studying the works of Smith, Koudelka and Frank since it provides the best mix of almost every style in street work. Smith’s brilliant portraiture, Koudelka’s intimate behind the scene look into his subject and Frank’s ability to accurately portray a massive subject by capturing its essence in just a handful of images.

Clunes, Victoria.

please give us a question to ask the next person.
What does photography mean to you?

You can find more from Hasan at:

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2 Responses to Interview: Hasan Ibrahim

  1. Iain Maclachlan says:

    Love your vision, passion and knowledge of photography Hasan. So very glad Big Drift connected with you.

  2. Thanks Iain. You created a master piece with “Big Drift”. I hope to see you at the Australia Day get together :)

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