Sep 22, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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Stylesight speaks to LA-based photographer Farhad Samari on his about his passion for vintage denim, motivations, and the way he goes about crafting his arresting and stunning photos.
Farhad Samari is the go-to-guy when its comes to shooting vintage denim and heritage-inspired clothing. The LA-based photographer has built a strong following amongst the purist denim community through his stunning work with contemporary vintage brands like Rising Sun, The Flat Head, Roy Jeans and 3sixteen as well as portraiture shots of some of the industries most notable figures like Michael Harris. His Instagram account, tumblr and Paperback Journal document his work and inspirational travels around the American West and have gathered followers well into the thousands.
While Farhad’s early work focused on gritty shots of rugged denim dudes and purist products, his most recent work has showcased the fairer sex in awe-inspiring vintage pieces. Taking a more editorial approach with styled shoots and beautiful LA set locations, Farhad’s new direction showcases vintage denim in a new light and of course with the stunning models, it offers a sexy appeal. We spoke to the man himself to find out a bit more on his latest work as well as his inspirations, passion for denim and the Cali denim scene:
You’re well established in the vintage and workwear scene in LA. How did you get into this market and when did you start photographing denim professionally?
With fashion, it’s really a small world with different circles with vintage scene being one of those circles. I didn’t really set out to get into that market, I was just shooting what I was interested in. I was just following that inner voice and shooting what I loved. That’s the only way to really set yourself apart from the crowd. Also, if you are doing good work, people notice and that often turns into more work. I started shooting denim professionally about 4 years ago or so.
You’re photography has a very gritty and raw aesthetic which lends itself well to vintage denim. How do you capture this style in your images?
I’ve always been drawn to things with character. Even though I am a bit of a perfectionist with my work, I find beauty in imperfection. My style of photography reflects that philosophy. In regards to my technique, I remember being in photo school and one of my teachers telling us that after having been a photographer for so many years, when people ask him what his technique is he is often at a loss for words. He just picks up the camera and shoots. What he was basically saying is that his technique has become second nature, kind of like driving a car or riding a bike. After shooting professionally for 10 years now I understand what he was trying to tell us.
I think I am just naturally drawn to things that aren’t too polished and glossy. I also like natural light over the use of flash and that lends itselfwell to shooting vintage denim. I want my photographs to look timeless. I want to be able to look at them in 10 years and not feel like they are dated. Just like an iconic piece of denim, a great picture should stand the test if time.
You seem to have a close relationship with denim heads like Michael Harris, Jaime from Raggedy Threads and Bandit Photographer. Is there a close network of vintage enthusiasts you work with in LA?
I suppose you can say that. After shooting that Inventory cover story, me and mike became friends as well as his wife Charla. They are wonderful people that are very passionate about what they are doing and are genuinely nice people. I met cory around the same time and although we are both photographers with similar interests we are very supportive of each other’s work. I have also known Jaime for a while now and recently we have been doing more stuff together. She’s also great to work with and we have become great friends.
I guess the common thread here is I like working with people with common interests that are genuinely nice. Also, now that I have done a good amount of work in the denim/vintage scene, people reach out to me to work with them which is nice.
In your recent releases I’ve seen you’ve started to shoot girls in vintage denim. They have a more fashion appeal to them, is this something you’d like to expand into?
Yes, absolutely. I started shooting guys because that was what I knew. It came so easy and natural to me because it was a reflection of my own style. However, I don’t want to be type casted as someone that only shoots men or even denim for that matter. I just like to shoot what interests me and I think one’s interests change over time. Having said that, I think shooting girls was a natural next step for me to challenge myself. I think to a certain extent women have more freedom to express themselves than men without being judged, which makes them more vibrant. Women also have a sense of mystery that I am attracted to. This venture has been a lot of fun and it’s something that I will definitely be doing a lot more of.
Which brands have you worked for so far?
The Flat Head Japan
I would love to do something with Levi’s, Lee, and wrangler as well as other influential brands in the industry. Also, would really love to shoot something for converse all stars which is a brand that I have been wearing since I was a kid.
Are you working with any vintage dealers/stores or stylists in LA for the shoots?
If you ask any photographer, styling is always the hardest part of any shoot and it can make or break it. I used to work with Madeline from chuck’s Vintage. Recently I have been working more with Jaime from Raggedy threads. She is really awesome to work with and our first shoot together has already been featured in C-heads Magazine. In this shoot we ventured beyond just denim and shot some vintage lingerie pieces as well. I also have an editorial coming out in the latest edition of Tenue de Nimes Journal de Nimes.
You’re obviously a fan of denim. Whats you’re most prized piece in your collection?
My favorite piece is a pair of ’60s selvedge Levi’s that Mike got for me from a thrift store. It was a total score and he gave it to me as a gift. They fit me pretty perfectly and have also been repaired to death by his wife Charla and Jaime as well as my friends at Self Edge. They look pretty awesome but what I love about them is that they were a gift and have been repaired by my friends.
Find out more on Farhad’s work through his multiple channels below:
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