This In Focus interview is with Kamal Mostofi and was conducted by Sarah Fitzgerald-Jones.  Sarah says :-

If you have not heard of this amazing photographer let me introduce you to the wonderful Kamal Mostofi!
Whether you have heard of Kamal Mostofi or not you will find so much of this interview inspiring and for me it was a real pleasure to do.
Kamal Mostofi is a photographer, an artist that can capture fashion, portrait and weddings, an image maker of incredibly high standards but there is something which may surprise you when it comes to how long this photographer has been doing this inspiring work, so inspiring Kamal Mostofi has even been invited and given talks to photography students.
Based in London this photographer is one to look out for and watch over the next coming years, I am absolutely sure he will continue to amaze with his incredible skills.
So sit back enjoy the read, check out those stunning images and get inspired!
With huge thanks to Kamal Mostofi for giving his time to do this interview with the NPS, it has been wonderful.

1: Lets start right from the very beginning , tell us when did you first pick up a camera and found your passion for photography?

I bought my first film camera (Canon) when I was 20 years old and started doing my casual photography. I didn’t take it seriously at the time.

It didn’t happen till 2011 when a very good friend of mine whom is an actress and a great photographer encouraged me to go to the next level and changed my vision. It was the right time for me as I was looking for a change in my life.

This was the big click to open the door to a new path.

2: In an incredibly short time you have gone from being a hobby photographer to an award winning photographer in the field of beauty, portrait, fashion and weddings. How has this come about, when did you take the decision to really go for it?

In 2011, I started Landscape and Street photography. I entered Faith Through A Lens in 2012 and I was selected as one of the top 4 photographers in one category. I met Don McCullin and had a 10 minutes of one to one talk about my image; this was the moment that I knew 100% I am on the right path and shouldn’t give up. You can see the video of the ceremony here

I spent hours of reading, researching and developing, which still I haven’t stopped doing.

For some reasons, I found myself to be people’s photographer and enjoyed more and more to photograph people. I met Zydre Zilinskaite in 2012 and she became one of the key role in my success. Zydre is a makeup artist and her skills have been great help in my work. I also have to say working with a good stylist; models and makeup artists helped me to achieve my goals.

In 2013-2014 I achieved my qualifications from The National Photographic Society and The Society of Wedding and Portrait as an Associate Photographer.

My work have been exhibited in New York (2013), Digital Arts California (2013), Zagreb (2014) and London (2015).

I am travelling to Italy – Siena in October for Siena Photography Exhibition where two of my images would be exhibited. I was shortlisted to the final, which is another achievement.

I have achieved everything from my hard work, long hours of research, my team and believe in my ability.

3: Kamal all of your photography is outstanding, your portraits really show a connection with the model and yourself, how important is it to get a good rapport with your clients and models? Can it be a case of someone wondering off the street and just getting it right there and then or is there much more to this?

It is very important to get a good rapport with your subject. It could be a simple portrait, a head-shot or a fashion beauty photograph. Personally, I look at my subject from head to their tip toe, their emotion and the way they communicate; I get to know them via their body language.

It is not easy and throughout my career, I have seen many people that took hours to open up and express their emotion to connect with the camera or myself. Therefore, I photograph 1 or 2 people in one day.

I look at people on the street or train, I connect with them and study their face that helps me to imagine the light direction, makeup and the final result in my mind. So, if you see me staring at you on the street, don’t freak out!

4: You have provided fantastic work for magazines, having your work shown like this is one incredible achievement . Clearly this takes a lot of work with make up artists and fashion stylists. We could only imagine the preparation and team work which goes into this is huge and time consuming, tell us just how much work is involved here and the importance of all you do personally and as team to get this right?

Getting published in magazines is challenging. This is one of the key for me to push myself to another level in my career. It takes weeks to put everything together, research the concept, create a mood-board, and find a right makeup and hair stylist, fashion stylist and models. I usually arrange my personal projects with my team one month in advance. It is important to work with people whom are responsible and dedicated to work with you and your team.

I advice my team that all of them should have a good rest the night before the shoot. It has happened that member of the team turn up either tired or hangover from the night before, which had a big impact on the result.

A photographer doesn’t do magic, a perfect image is a result of a teamwork.

5: Weddings now here is something that really takes some skill and thought, your wedding images clearly show this and more. What for you is at the upmost importance to ensure you can give your clients such unique and beautiful images?

There are many keys to get the best result on a wedding day.

1- Get to know bride and groom, 2- Be control of the light, 3- Communicate with guests, Bride and Groom, 4- Never stop smiling,  5- get your composition right, 6- Get the exposure right in the camera. 7- Shoot in RAW and Black and White in your camera.

6: We were fortunate enough recently to have talked on the phone and we talked about the editing of images after a wedding or any other portrait session. Clearly your editing skills are of a very high standard as your portraits remain looking natural yet still flawless, how much of your time is put into post production of all areas of your work, is this an area of your art you love as much as the photography its self? 

It varies from one project to another. Overall, 60% of my time put into post-production. Photography and post-production are linked; it is like photography and darkroom. You should love both to create your art.

7: Portraits, your personal preference… colour or black & white? and why?

This is very hard to answer. When I work on an image, I study it for few minutes to connect with my subject; it’s like the person is in front of me. When I complete the post-production process, then I convert it to B&W to analyse it if it tells me a strong story. I believe colors fools your eyes while B&W tells you the fact, as they are, the shadow, the highlight, the emotion and the story.

8: A little bit more about you and your own free time with your camera, I have noticed that your photography is not always about people but there are some rather stunning landscapes of yours out there too. Tell us a little bit your own personal time with your camera and your own projects?

I like to carry my camera often on spare time. Some of my friends call me ‘A photographer for all season’. We have beauties around us, any objects, landscape, buildings and people; I get inspired with all that.

9: Finally you have shown that a lot can be achieved in just a few years and this must be down to pure hard work and passion. I find this inspirational alone, what has driven you and what tips would you give to anyone already involved or considering portrait photography? 

You cannot achieve anything if you don’t work hard. I have sacrificed weekends and holidays in the last 2 years and focused on developing my skills and eyes. The beauty of people driven me to create strong images. After creating an image, I go back to it and tell myself that I could do better.

The light is the main key in my work. I paint my subject with the light and get it right in the camera. I don’t add any light in my post-production.

My advice to photographers that would love to persuade portrait photography are:

  • Connect with your subject and be positive.
  • Study their face and body language.
  • Become the master of light to get it right in your camera.
  • Capture their emotion and soul.
  • Stay away from photoshop actions and LR template preset. Create your own style. Don’t waste your money on them.
  • Be creative and not competitive.
  • Don’t devalue yourself by giving your services and products cheap.
  • Educate your clients to value you and your work.

A portrait is not just a photo. You are responsible to capture an image of your subject that looks different from what they see in their own eyes in the mirror.

To see more of Kamal’s work :-