How to Become a Creative Photographer in the Internet Era?

Interwiew directed by  Yves de Saint Jacob for magazine Paris Alger

N°20 July – August – September 2017.

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“How to become a creative photographer in the internet Era?”

Mahdi Aridj studied agricultural engineering. First in Algiers, then in Paris. He was a consultant for a company at first, but then decided to pursue his passion, photography. Fathers are always right anyways. He continues to work part time, but despite his talent, he still can’t count on supporting himself financially off his photography. In a world where the Internet and social networks are the unexpected “Uberization” of tomorrow, life does not necessarily become easier.
Interviewed by Yves de Saint Jacob from the magazine “Paris Alger | N ° 20 July – August – September 2017″ – (Download link to the subscription form below)
  • First of, let’s start with a classic question, “Do you work totally digital, or do you still use film?

I learned photography from my father and he introduced me to film, his basic settings, and his techniques of developing film. Then, like everyone else, I transitioned to digital photography. But, there was a trap; there’s always a trap. It’s better to take fewer pictures, but better quality ones. When I was younger, I loved to fish. I would say that shooting with “Film” is like catching fish with a fishing rod, whereas “Digital” is like trying to catch fish with a net. There is a greater sense of excitement when you have to take a single photo at the perfect moment. But, there is also a lot more risk: it can escape you completely… From time to time, I still do a little film photography, but roughly around 5%. The problem is the development and the draw. Using a personal dark room is not satisfactory. I will come back to it one day, if I have a small personal lab and the knowledge needed to print in color.



  • How does a photographer survive?
Beginnings are always difficult. The income I get does not allow me to attain the minimum living standard… My first contracts came from covering events, weddings, births, corporate ceremonies, etc., but these were mostly done for free in order to develop a personal portfolio to showcase to future customers. Free photography attracts masses. Different platforms, such as “Everphotoshoot”, use the concept in order to “Uberize” the sector. They are responsible for finding customers, providing a communication medium, and assigning work to subscribing photographers. These companies naturally squeeze prices to the bitter minimum. I’ve even seen contracts as low as 4 euros per picture. The fees that you pay to travel to these shoots alone do not get reimbursed by these types of prices. You often lose money accepting these types of contracts.
  • So the internet has complicated things …?
Yes and no. The internet has allowed you to present your own images at relatively low costs, i.e. because you can set up a site for a few only a few euros a month. Additionally, social networks (like Instagram or Facebook) allow you widely share these images.
It was through these mediums that I found my first contracts. This is what I’d like to call “digital word-of-mouth.” In addition to this, the massive distribution of images and their popularity also enticed many places, such as bars, shops, and businesses to exhibit my photos. These places are therefore added to my specialized galleries, which are more difficult to access. They also allow for a wider dissemination to diverse audiences, in forms that better respond to the notion of “social networking” than I ever could accomplish.
  • Shooting events, family, or business photography isn’t frustrating?

I do not know if I’m hopelessly wishing, but I try not to fall into food photography. You can do a relatively good job on simple subjects. For example, I was very fortunate in documenting on the themes of pregnancy and maternity while working in Germany. I worked for many different institutions, including the Institute of Islamic Cultures. Consequently, I was picked up on Algerian media / blogs, which led to  my very specific participation in following a member throughout the debate on LGBTQI marriage of Algeria to see. So, there are some very satisfying subjects for someone who wishes to express themselves. The goal in life is to multiply these pursuits in order to shape one’s passion and love for photography.

Comment devenir photographe au temps de l'internet ? 13