Rafael Yaghobzadeh

JEUNESSE À FLEUR DE PEAU (ON EDGE) – FRANCE

Rafael Yaghobzadeh was born in Paris in 1991. His family were well travelled and were in journalistic circles. It was in 2002 when he found his love for photography and began covering what was happening in the news, from politics to fashion, for the ‘Sipa Press’. At this time he was still in school so he had to make sure to balance the two. As he evolved a strong interest in the economic and political issues that were surrounding him, he wanted to learn even more so began to study history in 2011. But he wanted to keep on covering the important events that carried on around him, still balancing both education and photography. Since then Yaghobzadeh has travelled to many places around the world that have been struggling under the bad economy and war, to document what life is like for these people. He has also collaborated with Associated Press, Le Monde, Paris Match, VSD, La Vie, Neon and more.

The work from Yaghobzadeh I’m looking at is called “Jeunesse à fleur de peau”, which roughly means how the youth these days are constantly on edge and something small could make them explode. It’s based around a group of 6 friends who live in eastern Paris, who have finished education and are starting their adult lives. The project has turned into a ‘personal essay’ to him, as he documented their personal lives throughout the day, documenting both moments of complicity and intimacy between friends, from 2010-2016

All of his images are in colour, as they’re all documentation of their life right now and everything they see in in colour. But a lot of his images are quite dark, either dimed by the night sky, low lighting indoors or covered by shade while outside. I think this is to show the comfort of keeping to neutral colours, having bright colours would maybe be shown if the group were of a younger age group. As they’re going into adult life they’re worried on what they’re going to make of their life and are scared to make the wrong decision. Most of his images have two or more people in them, showing the interactions that these youths have and showing how they spend their time. He makes sure to include interesting angles and viewpoints, when taking some of the images of the whole group he takes them as if he’s someone watching over them. I like this as in the shots will less people he includes some of the detail that is also around the models, making sure not to over fill the frame. In these shots he uses his aperture to make sure his models are in focus, and are the main point, while keeping the detail slightly blurred but still recognisable. Having a mixture of wide angle and cropped images is very important especially if there are many images taken over several years. He wants to keep the viewers engaged so to do that using different locations along with different viewpoints and other technical features. In some of his images he manages to capture some really interesting shapes within the objects that where around, from playground structures to the shadows from the trees. I feel like using these simple things and incorporating them into his images takes them up a level as they add extra texture and shape, when sat next to some of the more basic images it helps brings the whole project to life.

From the images you get a vibe that the models are living their life day by day, not really thinking about what’s to come, trying to make the most of their carefree youth. They’re making the most of the time they have with each other, even if they’re not doing anything exciting being in each other’s company is better than time alone. Within my project I want to capture the moments where my subjects are just enjoying having others around them, if it’s one person or five people. I want to capture their interactions, trying to document how differently they act/ look compared to when they’re going about their daily life alone. I’m not doing my project for as nearly as long as Yaghobzadeh but I still have a connection with all of my models as I’ve known them a long time. Hopefully this means my models will feel comfortable around me and my camera, acting as they would if I weren’t there documenting their lives.

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