|Maya Guez - Inspired by Africa|
|Skrivet av urbanlife.se|
Maya Guez is a young, noted visual artist and photographer based in New York who published her first fashion spread at seventeen. Israelian born Maya grew up absorbing the influences of the North African, Mid-Eastern, Mediterranean and East European cultures in her family. These influences are clear to see in her photos which are truly creative and stunning. Obviously Urbanlife was keen to find out more about the woman behind the camera.
UL - For those unfamiliar with your work it’s very striking, colourful and creative and a large number of your photos have black models beautifully shot. Does black, dark skin fascinate you?
Maya Guez - I wouldn't define it like that, I would say I think there is beauty in all nationalities and races. Beauty in people of colour is often underrated, I think there is just as much beauty to behold in dark skin, full lips and brown slanted eyes as there is in pale skin, light eyes and blonde hair, BOTH should be celebrated. I am good in capturing dark skin tones, shadows, reflections and highlights in the skin which not all photographers capture well, I think that is one of the reasons I get booked for a lot of work in that market.
Your roots are from Israel, is it your aim to use multi-cultural models as a way of contrast / rebellion against your heritage or mainstream photography? ...is this also where you get your inspiration?
lol! No, I am not rebellious against my heritage, I am Jewish and was born and raised in Israel. The nation of Israel was created by Jews from all over the world, African and Mid-eastern included... In Israel there are many black Jews from Ethiopia as well as different people of color from North Africa - Morocco, Algeria, Yemen and Tunisia where my father was born and raised. Growing up I was surrounded by cultures and languages from different parts of the world, African languages, Arabic, Russian, French and of course Hebrew and they all inspired me.
Black models still face difficulty getting work on the catwalk and especially in Scandinavia, do you feel designers are missing out and why do feel there is still this reluctance to use black models?
Well I think there are 2 aspects of it; firstly, the perception of what is considered the ideal beauty is quite narrow in this industry and secondly its a business and designers do what sells. They want to appeal to the audience that buys their product and especially in certain parts of Europe they think black models will be less relatable and less commercially successful in selling the image/product to the masses. After all, advertising is selling a dream image you see yourself in. You will notice American designers use more models of colour in the USA because it has more selling power, here as well there is a larger market consisting of buyers of African American decent particularly compared to Scandinavia.
What do you feel can be done to change this here?
I think the bottom line is it's not about black or white, what's important is green... Designers, just like any other business see only green dollars, if they thought or were shown that using black models even in a predominantly white market will increase their sales and appeal I think they would be running out to look for such models. I would suggest supporting black art/artists and designers who use black models more, as a buyer you have the ability to speak with your dollar if you really want to induce change stay away from brands who show no diversity in their imagery and appeal, support the ones that do.
I would also encourage more people of color to get into the industry as decision makers and creative minds behind projects (director, agents, stylists, editors designers, casting directors and so on) and promote a change from within.
For those who don’t know, you are also incredibly beautiful as well (see right - the last 3 pictures on her site show Maya in 3 incredibly different tones; Romantic, Exotic and Gold) have you ever found it hard for people to take you seriously as a Photographer when you were trying to get into the industry?
Thank you for the compliment! l do have issues sometimes with being taken seriously because I'm considered an attractive woman and there is an aspect of misconceptions or even jealousy sometime when it comes to that, people love to gossip or assume you didn't earn what you achieved, they try to make it personal about you instead of the work. Haters are nothing new and anyone that has reached some type of success is faced with this they will always find something to say. But at the end of the day what matters are the results and the work. I think my work is good enough to speak for itself regardless of who is the person behind the camera.
Do you have any tips for people of colour who want to get into the model industry?
What other people may think is your disadvantage, try to turn make it into an advantage or even your trademark! Be confident and aware of your body - its advantages and disadvantages. Know your angles. Don't try to be something you're not; celebrate YOUR type of beauty. I don't like when models try to force themselves into a body type that is not naturally theirs just to fit a mold of what the industry considers fashionable or beautiful.
There is more than one kind of beauty and there's more than one type of modeling.
You have to realize that there are a lot of beautiful people that are not "model material" and there's a lot of models who are not "beautiful" so don't use modeling as a validation of being attractive; that is something you should feel from within regardless of if you can or cannot be a model. And don't take it so seriously, have fun with it.
We understand that you are currently producing a coffee table book, can you tell us more about what to expect?
I am working on a new site Mayaguezart.com that will be selling merchandise of my art. First there will be limited addition art prints available, then calendars, and then hopefully in the future a coffee table book which I'm slowly but surely collecting materials for. The book will celebrate beauty and especially exotic and unconventional beauty.
We can't wait for that. Regarding taking pictures, what type of camera do you use?
I currently work with Mamiya AFD II with Phase1 medium digital back 32 mega pixel quality (16 bit per channel). This allows me to have great fine details and the high resolution is sufficient to anything you would need such as billboards, magazine covers, campaigns, and large art prints... I found that my 12.3 mega pixel Fuji camera with Nikon lenses that alot of the images on my site were taken with-provided great quality but I was unhappy with the detail quality when printing above 24 by 36 inch or when shooting tall people full body. This prompted me to move to medium format digital, again the difference is not really visible on web or small prints but more in enlargements.
Is there anyone you really want to shoot? With a camera :-)
So many talented people I would like to capture images of, some famous and some not. I would like to shoot more female celebrities, Hollywood actresses and female recording artists... woman who are bold and empowering.
Have you ever been to Sweden, and do you have any plans to have an exhibition in Europe?
No I haven't been in Sweden I had some of my work shown in Switzerland before in an art expo but if the opportunity presents itself I would gladly work or exhibit there.
And finally, can you name three things that come from Sweden without using Google?!!!
Ice, blondes and porn? lol! I know so stereotypical oh and my furniture...IKEA! lol
© Maya Guez Photography. All images are copyrighted and may NOT be reproduced without permission