Omar Imam: Inspired by...

Inspired by… Giuliano Guarnieri

In Inspired by... a talented young photographer highlights an image that has inspired them throughout their career. 

Il passato di Mr.M, 1990-2004 © Giuliano Guarnieri 

At the age of 22, I found out that one can create art through a camera and it was called "photography”. I decided this is what I wanted to do. One year later I discovered the Mr.M project by Giuliano Guarnieri: visual surreal stories about the life of contemporary mankind, and the gap between his simple needs and his complex circumstances, all with a sense of humour. I became obsessed by this series because it made me discover creative methods of expression. The artworks impressed me visually and generated many open questions. I started exploring conceptual photography, black and white photography, chemicals and processes of the dark room.

In his project Giuliano used medium and large format cameras. He developed and printed everything in his dark room in Verona. Since I speak Italian I began sending him e-mails asking about the wonderlands he created. One day in 2005 I got a phone call: a guy said "Hi, I'm Giuliano Guarnieri" and from that moment we became good friends. I visited him every time I went to Italy. His apartment looked more like a photography museum than a house, with a refrigerator full of films and chemicals. Eventually I came to join “The Chemical Brotherhood” he founded for photographers who resist digital photography.

For many years we would discuss symbolism in photography, how to control the composition, what elements to add or remove in order to create more space for the spectator to have his/her own interpretation, and to enable people to have an unrestrained understanding of the artwork. Giuliano kept photography separate from his career and now manages a distribution and services company, while I decided to be a professional photographer and filmmaker after I left Damascus in 2012.

About Omar Imam

Omar Imam is a Beirut-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria and he often has to publish his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and in collaboration with NGOs, he has produced films, photography projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

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