Rafael Avcioglu, @rafael.avcioglu on Instagram, is an impressive American photographer and creative director that, with extreme creativity and innovation, builds unique visual storytelling.
He puts his whole life and experience into his art and, although he has spent tormented and difficult moments, he never stops helping others. Rafael wants to be a reference figure and support for those who fight against suffering, his work is based on interiority and sharing.
We had the chance to talk a bit with him about photography and life.
Here is the interview, enjoy the reading.
Hi Rafael, tell us something about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you discover photography?
I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, in a small community called Oak Park. I discovered photography later in life when I was attending college at Michigan State University. I was 21 when I got my first camera.
How long have you been working in the world of photography? Tell us about your path.
Photography did not click immediately. I only had plans of learning photography as a tool to use in my graphic design and fine art creative work. But after about 2 years of shooting photographs, I realized I enjoyed it enough to try to do it for a living. This did not come quickly and it would be another 2 years until I would become a full-time photographer. I have been a freelancer for about 2 years. Before this, I worked a million odd jobs from construction to kitchen cook to zip-line guide. You name it, I probably worked in that industry at some point.
All these jobs that I had since I was a teenager taught me the value of hard work and helped me to apply the same skills towards my photography career. I am nowhere close to where I would like to be and have big plans for the future but I am still very proud of how far I have come in such a short time.
What do you like to tell through your photography?
My journey as an artist has been a sea of ups and downs and, before I could rise, I had to fall very hard. As someone who has dealt with addiction, depression, and anxiety and worked very hard to overcome these obstacles (although the work is never truly finished), I felt it was important to use the thing I feel I am best at, visual story-telling and writer, to help relate to my audience and make them feel less alone.
In the USA, overdoses are the leading cause of death for humans under the age of 30. 10% of our youth has prescribed some sort of anti-anxiety or antidepressant. These are just a few statistics that stand out to me, so I try to convey a deeper message through my work that helps others feel less alone in their mental fight. I try to give a voice to those who don’t feel they have a voice. I try to reduce social stigmas and push for a more accepting society.
As I share my journey, I work to learn others’ journeys as it helps me to grow into a more understanding, knowledgeable human.
Which artists and photographers have influenced your work?
Big photographers like Gregory Crewdson, David Lachapelle, Sychrodogs, Ryan Pfluger, Pooneh Ghana, Rob Woodcox, Cambell Addy, Tyler Mitchell, Harley Weir, Charlotte Abramow, Renell Medrano, Luke Gilford, Tim Walker, the list could go on and one.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing to consider while shooting portraits?
The most important thing for me to consider while shooting portraits depends. Is this my story? Is this a story about the subject? Is this personal? Is this for a client? Is this shoot about what I want? Or what someone else wants.
Let’s say this, I was hired for my creativity, this story is personal but also has to do with the subject I am shooting and I have complete freedom. Then what is most important to me is who am I shooting. What is their story? Who are they? What are they? I want to build a story that means something to them and to me. Something we can both look at and go, “wow” but also something where to shoot itself is a memory that will last forever.
Almost like building an experience to walk away with while also creating incredible work. I am more here to listen, learn, and for the story. The more comfortable everyone else, the easier it is for me to create.
What kind of gear do you use?
I use a lot of different gear. Everything from 1953 Hasselbad 500cm to a DJI Mavic Pro Drone.
I bring a lot of cameras with me wherever I go. And I usually end up using more than half of them cause I want to create different stories within stories and have different perspectives to play with that cover everything that is going on. I am not super brand loyal but I do really enjoy shooting Nikon for my digital portraiture. I believe that Sony is the present and future for video work.
Continue the sentence: for me photography is…
…my life. It is not separated from anything I do. It works its way into all things. It is my obsession. It is my greatest achievement. It is my purpose. It is my voice. It is everything to me.
Articolo di Federica Cimorelli