“Which self? To each self there’s a skin, and that skin I wear it according to the self that is needed at that time. There’s the self mother, the self woman, the self artist, if I can allow myself that. The self photographer, the self that is interested in a lot of social work, and there is the self that does photo therapy.”
The insightful words of self-taught photographer and artist Maya Alameddine rang true as we sat down with her to talk about her visual storytelling journey that is equally controversial, thought provoking, beautiful and essential.
Born in 1974 to a Tripolitan family, with her mother, an interior designer and her father an architect. The mother, woman, artist, photographer, social worker, and photo-therapist Alameddine grew up in a world where art had no boundaries. She exposed herself to the things she loved. Her photography has no limits or taboos. But, Maya points out that having no taboos doesn’t mean that one doesn’t have principles.
As a trained artist, Alameddine “divorced” her pen, pencils, and papers a long time ago, when she became fully immersed in her motherly skin at the age of 20. Instead of drawing, she began to take pictures. As an autodidact, Alameddine decided to invest more time in photography. She joined groups to gain more insight on the medium, but instead, she realized that working alone better suited her character. “I fly solo,” she said. “It’s better this way.” Using only natural light, photography came easily to her. Alameddine’s ability to read light paired with her knowledge of drawing volumes, shapes, colors and framing came instinctively.
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Maya’s work is versatile, and often uses therapeutic photo-interactive practices that help expand individual’s intention of growth, personal healing and understanding of oneself. These activities also assist in building better relationships, trigger positive change, assist in rehabilitation and produce other kinds of visual-based intimate/emotive healing experiences.
Photo-therapy is used to raise awareness on the prohibition that exists around the human body, it externalizes hidden fears, it is also used as a soul searching exercise. Alameddine welcomes her subjects in several sessions in order to fully immerse herself in their story. She tries to get into their minds, understand their routines, their social status and their life narrative.
Although many people ask Maya to shoot them nude. She is very picky with the people she works with, because to her, it is very important to understand the motive behind the need for the shoot since some individuals might expose themselves in the wrong way. While she takes the individual through a metamorphosis, she makes sure to bring them back to their original state because if she doesn’t it can be very unhealthy for the person. It’s unethical she says. Nude photography is not the only genre one can use in photo-therapy. Alameddine uses portraiture and many other forms of photography in her practice.
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Nude photography never caused any problems or challenges for Maya. She was able to translate her work to the public in the right way without any taboos and the audience connected with it. Alameddine is extremely comfortable with her work, she uses her confidence and lack of fear to expose a limitless perspective which sometimes may turn against her. Her work is not erotic. “It doesn’t feed any inner erotism or sensuality. There’s always a message behind it.” Maya explains.
Although not many challenges have spurred on a photographical aspect, Allamedine points out that being a woman in this society is not always practical because people judge the exterior before knowing one’s worth. To her, consistency is a must. When one is constant with the work they do, they are untouchable.
Maya has dedicated her photographic journey to helping others. Through her practice, she hopes to leave a positive trace and imprint on those she works with.