Woman Crush Wednesday: Rania Matar
Interview by Nelly Latypova
What is this story about?
L'Enfant-Femme are portraits of young teens and pre-teens and how they interact with the camera. The only instruction I give the girls is not to smile and I allow them to fall into their own poses. My aim is to portray the girl, her demeanor and her sense of identity, when allowed to pose herself as she wishes in front of the camera - at this very delicate fleeting time in her life, right before puberty as her body starts to transform. I want to capture alternatively the angst, the self-confidence or lack thereof, the body language, the sense of selfhood, often all of it at the same time in what I refer to as "beautiful awkwardness".
These are all emotions and attitudes girls this age alternatively (or simultaneously) experience as they become aware of who they are, of their changing bodies, their beauty, and their emerging womanhood, but also of the world around them and the standards of beauty and attitudes they think they need to emulate. However, these are also still young girls who fluctuate between being children they still are and young women they are beginning to turn into.
What inspired you to make the "L’enfant-femme" series?
My younger daughter, Maya, when she was 12, and I was observing her transforming before my eyes. Her body started changing and her attitude as well, alternating between being a little girl I knew and a young woman I didn't know yet.
What was the most difficult thing you have experienced making the "L’enfant-femme" series?
I wouldn't call it difficult, but an interesting thing - I was shooting medium format negative film and those young women had no idea what I was talking about. They kept wanting to see the back of my camera and when I told them it is negative film, they had no idea what that was. Eventually this became part of the process as it forced the girls to move away from the selfie attitude and the immediate gratification of the digital image, and take the photo session much more seriously.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
Work on a project you absolutely love and are passionate about. If you are working with people, be kind to and respectful of the people you photograph - establish a relationship of trust and intimacy. Learn to observe people to catch the vulnerable, in-between moments
What was the last book or film that inspired you?
Book: Sally Mann Hold Still. Movie: Lady Bird, and Boyhood
What is the most played song in your library?
How do you take your coffee?
Black and very hot