Had the pleasure to interview New York based photographer Ahmed Klink. An overall awesome person with not just an on point photography work under his belt, Ahmed Klink has a PhD in bio-medical engineering and graduated with a Summa Cum Laude, he has lived in three continents, and also speaks three languages. I had a fun interview with Ahmed on a wide variety of topics from his work, photography,passion for science, early life in Lebanon, living in New York city and more. Enjoy !
Can you please tell readers a bit about yourself.
My name is Ahmed Klink, I’m a photographer and I shoot music and celebrity portraiture among other things. I was born in Lebanon and grew up in France where I lived for 20 years before coming to New York City. Life is good.
Was it always your dream to be a photographer, if not when did your interest in photography start.
Well, I actually grew up wanting to be an astronaut or on a spaceship of some sort – and part of me actually still wishes I could do that. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt of being a photographer as a kid you know? I don’t think it’s the typical childhood fantasy. That being said I grew up in a very visual stimulating environment, my dad is a pretty good painter and we’d go travel to visit the places where Monet and Van Gogh used to live and work.
I used to read about them, learn how they recreated the light, how they composed their paintings etc.I think there’s such a close relationship between paintings and photographs, especially in portraiture. Unfortunately I always sucked at drawing stuff so yeah… I tried picking up a camera and things eventually turned out much better.
Reading your bio, you speak three languages, born in Lebanon, grew up in Paris and now based in New York. How has all that helped you as a photographer and an individual.
Yes, I guess you could argue that I’ve had the chance to live on 3 continents, which is kind of nuts given the fact that I’m 28. It definitely helped me shape as an individual as much as an artist. You know, to have such a visually stimulating environment around you. I’m extremely grateful because my parents would travel a lot and they’d take us everywhere with them. Just having the ability to look at different things, learn different cultures have been a huge asset in my life. It opened me so many doors. I feel I could live and adapt anywhere. That’s also where I started taking my first photographs.
In your opinion what do you think is the unique connection between music and photography.
Ha! That’s a good question… I've never really thought about that but there’s definitely something about it. I think it probably lies into their respective relationships to the times and cultures, the ones they document or represent.
When working on a portrait with a client how do you deal with them to get the high quality performance?
A lot of it comes from the connection I have with my subject. I think it is essential to build trust or create some sort of a relationship with the person you are photographing. Even more so when it is a celebrity, I want a find a way that is going to lead them to let their guard down so I can capture a moment that is maybe somewhere beyond their public persona. To me that’s what makes an appealing and high quality portrait. The way I see it, portraits are almost a social experience, you know? I just love when my subject and I share a nice genuine moment; I guess I’m sort of a romantic in that way... The photo in between photos is the one I am usually interested in. That moment that is going to create a tiny window and give you an insight into somebody’s personality, I just love that. So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish.
How different is it working for clients compared to working on your own projects.
They’re certainly both a different dynamic, for sure. I think the main difference is that in working for clients you have to keep in mind that someone hired you to achieve a certain esthetic. It definitely becomes bigger than which photo looks great to me or which one is my favorite, there’s different departments and a bunch of talented people involved with the photo editor, creative director etc.… It’s definitely a group effort and the photographer almost becomes more of a problem solver, you know? Piecing it all together while putting your stamp on it and that’s something I really enjoy doing.
When shooting a personal project, it really becomes about you, what you like, what you’re interested in and how you see the World. They say that personal work is what keeps you sane and I really believe that. It’s about going out there and shooting what you love. And often, great personal work is going to lead you back to more assignments.
What is your most Remarkable moment yet.
Ha, that’s a good question. I don’t know… I’ve definitely had some nice moments, for example being flown to go shoot for magazines that I used to read growing up, that’s pretty cool and definitely a great feeling. But I think the most remarkable thing that’s happened to me yet is meeting extraordinary people. Photographers, artists, people that I admire and respect and that for the most part have become close friends. I know some of the most talented and hardest working people in the industry. I’ve learned a lot from them and I keep learning everyday, they push me to become better at what I do. It is a real privilege. So yeah… I think that’s what strikes me the most when I look back at my young career. Although, John Legend once told me he liked my shirt… I guess that was pretty cool?
What do you think is the most important factor in photography and the power of photography.
The power of conveying a message or a vision through a still photograph is fascinating. People die, photographers die but their images stay. Their vision stays. Avedon, Bourdin, Irving Penn they all influenced their times. Beyond that, they left us a heritage.
What is your perfect working mode like.
Whenever I’m shooting, I like to have a high-energy set going on. I’m a pretty vocal director;I like my subjects to feed off of my energy. So yeah, definitely blast some music, my friends Lord Easy and Chris Goldteeth made me an incredible promo mix tape (click here to download and listen) with some of my favorite songs that I usually play while I’m shooting… I think that’s how I’m the most efficient. That being said, I believe it’s an incredible asset to be able to adapt to whatever situation you might be running into on set.
For example I’ve recently had a shoot where I had run the set a much quieter set because my subject was super introverted. I also photographed portraits of deaf basketball players down in Atlanta for SLAM Magazine and that was I completely new environment to me.
Obviously I couldn’t talk to my subjects so I had to adapt. It’s still to this day one of the best experiences I’ve had on a shoot. I love the photos the kids and I made together. I found out new things about myself as a photographer, like hey I could do that now, you know? I have one more weapon in my arsenal; and I think it’s important to keep that arsenal expanding. These kids made me a better photographer that day.
Favorite spot in New York.
Ha! I usually just like hanging out with my friends, wherever that may be. Often it is somewhere in a bar downtown, in the Lower East Side or East Village. I love singing Karaoke. My friends Chris Goldteeth and Lord Easy run the best Karaoke dance party in New York, it is called Karaoke Killed the Cat and you absolutely have to hit it up if you’re ever coming to town. It’s probably the most fun you will ever have. I also love hanging out in East Harlem or El Barrio – how they call it here. It’s an area that reminds me of Lebanon somehow, people hanging out on their front steps, listening to music, the smell of grilling corn on the streets, the small shops… There’s a sense of community about that area that I really enjoy.
What are you passionate about besides photography.
I love science, medicine, and nanotechnologies… I think all that stuff is fascinating. I actually graduated Summa Cum Laude with a PhD in biomedical engineering before becoming a full time photographer… So yeah, I guess I’m sort of a nerd. I love Sci-Fi, Battlestar Galactica, with my friend and fellow photographer Kareem Black we’ve spent entire Saturday nights just watching that show. I love sports, basketball and football; the Knicks and the Giants more specifically. And soccer, being European and all, that’s what they enjoy over there (I’d probably get some serious jail time for calling it soccer too).
What is the last great song stuck in your head now.
A Real Hero by College from the Drive soundtrack. Great fucking movie by the way!
In your opinion how will you define creativity?
To me is to try to see things in a different light as much as possible, from a different perspective. And I try to apply that to my photographs as much as possible.
What do you like most about what you do.
I like every single aspects of what I do, I love that there’s absolutely no 9 to 5 type of daily routine to being a photographer. There are many different parts to being a photographer; but ultimately I just love taking photographs, that moment when I’m behind the viewfinder. That’s what it comes down to. I strive to make dope photographs and I hope I never lose sight of that as I move forward. Whether it’s for a client or magazines, ads, day, night, more money, myself or less money… That’s what I do. I take photos.
Find Ahmed Klink Here :
Mixtape Courtesy Ahmed Klink