Interview with Lebanese Photographer Elsie Haddad

Freelance photographer Elsie Haddad began interacting with the camera as a means of connecting with the world. 

According to Haddad, since she was very young the various elements of capturing images to developing prints and film played an instrumental role in her decision to use photography as a form of self-expression.

I had the pleasure to speak with Elsie and here's a brief excerpt of our interview as well as some of her images.

Tell us about your latest projects.

I just finished a photography project about old shops in Beirut; it will be published in Inge Morath online magazine in early 2012 so I’m editing it. I’m working on a project about this small group of people who spend their time by the sea during the whole year, as well as revisiting some old unfinished work.

How does your culture influence your work?

If you mean by culture the knowledge that I inherited from my studies and experience, I have to say that it’s all coming from the West, and this plays a major role in creating a westernized point of view on issues and problems in my society. I am aware of this and it’s very hard to find this thin line of keeping the authenticity of my approach towards the subject I’m working on…it’s more important to me that the outcome of the work would be accessible to the people involved before any other potential audience.

What are you looking to convey with your images?

Nowadays it’s very easy to do a beautiful photo. For me, aesthetical awareness is not enough to make a good photograph. We’re in a stage where advanced technology is used to create well-made, sharp, and appealing images but they lack content…whether I convey a feeling, an impression, or a rational idea through my images, they have to have human values.

Which photographers have influenced your work?

William Klein; as an innovator in documentary & fashion photography. Larry Clark; as a daring photographer who portrayed the juvenile delinquency in a very powerful way. Sophie Calle for her autobiographical work. Joseph Koudelka; silent war photographer who doesn’t really refer to himself as a photographer. Robert Capa; for his devotion and big heart. He gave photojournalism new political and humanitarian dimensions.