Interview with Walid Azami | GBPW Episode 122

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Walid Azami.

I try to teach photographers that you have such immense value and that the marketplace knows that. They just hope that you never find out because if you do, then you start charging. You have to understand your value.

Walid Azami

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In this episode, I speak with celebrity and advertising photographer Walid Azami. He has a successful business that includes making videos, taking beautiful photographs, and actively sharing photography knowledge on Instagram. One of his first clients was Usher. Today, he photographs famous people around the world and mentors photographers. 

We talk about:

  • Walid’s fascinating introduction to photography
  • Tips for working with models
  • What everyone should know about photography on a technical level

& much more!

Walid is undoubtedly one of the most creative artists I’ve ever come across. His appreciation for other photographers is evident on all his social media platforms. If you need a boost of inspiration and a good laugh, you’ll enjoy listening to this podcast episode!

Here is a preview of our conversation with Walid Azami. 

Q: What advice would you give to photographers who want to improve the technical side of their photography?

Walid Azami: Getting a friend to come on board is rough every single time. They’re impatient. They’re looking at their phone. Grab a mannequin! They’re just like people. They don’t move. You can practice for hours and change the outfits. That would be a huge thing for photographers.

Also, practice to the point that the camera feels like an extension of your hand. You shouldn’t have to think about settings. It’s like you don’t think about lifting a certain finger up. That’s what the camera should be. Practice like crazy, but get yourself a mannequin. It’s creepy, but it’s so effective.

Q: Do you have any other tips for people who want to improve the way that they work with models?

Walid Azami: Lie to them. Sometimes you have to lie to them, and it’s not a damaging lie.

Sometimes, I will pretend that something is wrong with my camera, my settings, or my light. If they’re not relaxed and I just want to show them what they could look like, I lie to them. I say, “Wait, you’re fine. There’s just something within my camera.” I randomly push buttons or pretend to push them.

So they’re relaxed, but I tell them, “Don’t talk to anybody. Just keep looking at me because I need to fix my settings. It’s my fault. I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. You’re doing great.” That’s the whole routine over and over.

They relax when I take this photo. I’ll snap a couple and then I’ll pretend that something’s not right again. I’ll snap a few more. Then I say, “Okay cool, we’re done. I had to lie to you to get this through.” Then, I show them the photos. When they see the difference in themselves, they’re like, “Oh!”

Q: What advice do you have when it comes to creating portfolios online? What should people avoid and what should they embrace?

Walid Azami: I have a tip and it’s kind of mean, but I’ll still say it. Identify people in your life without telling them. We have friends with really good taste and friends with questionable tastes.

Sometimes, if I’m not sure, I send the photos to both types of friends. If the friend with questionable taste likes it, I don’t post it.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
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