Excerpted from the third issue of Chairish’s magazine, Magazinish
Chairish is home to hundreds of artists creating special pieces for collectors. Here we talked to two photographers, each approaching figural portraiture from a very different place: Zeren Badar’s conceptual still lifes in Manhattan and Douglas Condzo’s street portraits from Mozambique.
How did you arrive at your style of shooting?
Douglas Condzo: In terms of my style, I am a very curious person. I’m a self-taught photographer, but I had the opportunity to meet and work with several photographers from Mozambique. I was doing photography every day and trying new techniques.
Zeren Badar: I’m also a self-taught photographer. I didn’t go to art school; I studied fashion. I picked up a digital camera in 2010 and started doing street photography, and then self-portraits. But I kind of didn’t like the process, running around and setting up lights, so I pivoted to conceptual photography. Now, I create in a studio environment.
Both of you have elements of spontaneity in your work. How do happy accidents affect your finished result?
ZB: It’s funny because the series I put on Chairish is called the Accidents series. It’s totally accidental: haphazard, unrelated juxtapositions. I’m very open to change. The lighting is controlled, but the compositions and the way they look can change in the camera.
DC: We spoke about learning—learning is also failing and learning from the failures. For me, the accidents sometimes help because they become new techniques. But sometimes with a digital camera, I can control that because I can take an overexposed picture and add detail after, and create balance with the color and picture. But most of the time when I learn new techniques, it’s from a mistake.
What is your biggest challenge in creating work?
ZB: Mine is time and space, because I live in Manhattan and the studios are expensive and too small. I work one-hundred-percent in the studio so that’s my challenge.
DC: I would say the same for me but also, most of the time, I’m doing street photography. And in Mozambique especially, people are not very used to cameras or seeing a photographer doing their thing on the streets. I had to learn to read auras and read how people feel in the moment so I don’t approach a person at the wrong time.
How do you each comment on beauty standards in your work?
ZB: I’ve always been a big fan of the Metropolitan Museum. I used to go for hours and stare at the European paintings. I thought, what if I add objects and food to give these paintings more life and then they will be more lovable? Old Masters are not so dead, or so boring, if they come in a new context.
DC: I have a big problem with the standardization of beauty, so I don’t like when beauty is put into a box. With my art, I try to give a deeper approach because beauty has various forms. Also, there is an awareness behind my photography. For those who see the artworks, it can create a moment of reflection and introspection. I am trying to transmit in a different way and also a simpler way.