Mazen Saggar: Photojournalist turned fashion photographer
Photographer Mazen Saggar traded in his life as a photojournalist for that of a fashion photographer. Which does he prefer?
Are you in the job you always imagined you’d be in? Born in Baghdad in 1968, Mazen Saggar arrived in France when he was 10 years old. After studying photography at the school Claude Garamont in Colombes, he began working as a photojournalist. From 1990 onwards, he worked on a freelance basis for a range of major international magazines. In 1999, he left Paris and moved to Madagascar where, alongside local photographers, he established the first photographic agency in the country.
Three years later when Mazen was back to Paris, he set up his own agency, Création Visuelle. At this point, he began his collaboration with the fashion house Louis Vuitton, covering events and fashion shows for the prestigious couture house. He is now the brand’s preferred photographer. Most recently, Mazen took part in the Louis Vuitton Foundation project in Paris, collaborating with the architect Frank Gehry.
Over his career, Mazen has developed an extensive portfolio of works, living and working in Paris and travelling around the world. He has worked with some of the biggest names in art and fashion (Marc Jacobs, James Turrell and Zaha Hadid to name a few), capturing the images that best reflect their brands and campaigns.
Here we speak to Mazen during a recent trip to Dubai to find out more.
What is it about fashion photography that excites you compared to your previous journalism work, for example? Is your work more fulfilling now?
For me, photojournalism and fashion are two completely different worlds but both quite interesting. I love art and fashion. Fashion photography is a process of creation, reflection and composition, to sublimate an object, to create a pure beauty. While photojournalism is more spontaneous, this is the report of an instant, just a moment of life. This sharp contrast between fashion photography and photojournalism is essential for me, it’s the right balance; to avoid getting lost in the glitter world of fashion or in the dark universe of photojournalism.
Why do you think you became Louis Vuitton’s preferred photographer?
I am not Louis Vuitton’s preferred photographer but someone who knows this fashion house very well. I’m working closely with different departments (communication, marketing, sales, patrimony, creation studio, events) and I’m one of the rare photographers to work at every level with them.
What is it about this brand that you particularly like? What excites you about it? Are there any models/ designers you believe represent the brand the best?
LV is an old French fashion house that has always known how to adapt throughout the centuries and the evolutions of the fashion world. First “malletier”, then luxury brand; this is a great evolution. I love this creative potential; it’s all about innovation and creative madness.
Whose photography do you enjoy looking at and what gives you inspiration?
The ones from Patrick Demarchelier, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh. The key principles: framing, composition, content are an eternal source of inspiration.
Do you have a preferred method of shooting? What equipment can you not live without?
The approach of a photographer involves observation. Then I cultivate the art of discretion. At that moment I can start shooting. I never leave my Leica as it is small, discreet and silent. I work with all types of equipment, reflex 24x36 for fashion, medium format Hasselblad for studio and my Leica for reporting. The material is just a tool. The rest arises from the heart and from the head.