Mustafah Abdulaziz is a photojournalist fresh to the Berlin music scene but is making a splash while learning what makes the city thrive. Recently transplanted from Brooklyn, he leveraged connections with Martina Kix, a photo editor at Intro Magazine, to start photographing musicians.
“As a documentary photographer, you often work in environments you don’t control with deadline parameters and editorial needs,” Abdulaziz explains. “She gave me absolute freedom to shoot the way I felt.”
His approach to shooting with the band involves taking each musician with a blank slate. He engages in their stories while taking time to share his. According to Abdulaziz, his method of no pressure and lack of forced poses “creates a distinct atmosphere to bring back a photograph from.”
“So I watch their movements, see if there’s any tics or habits they have when they stand or look at the camera.” Abdulaziz continues. “Sometimes I feel a bit guilty, because I’ll point my camera then they pose but wont take a picture. Then, when they return to the moment, I get my photograph.”
Abdulaziz is often subject to dealing with preparations through a musician’s publicist. Restrictions may include a 30-minute window, which forces him into a tighter deadline to get acquainted with the band.
“The larger musicians generally want to be shot in luxurious hotel rooms but I haven’t an interest in that,” he says. He prefers to engage with musicians in much more interesting places.
On a quick turnaround, he’ll default to digital, but when he wants “a bit more magic” he’ll explore with film.
“I’m trying to photograph as though I’m in a river of moments and I’m being carried by the current,” he says of using film. To get the same feeling with digital, Abdulaziz covers the back screen “as reminder to ignore what I’m producing and stay in the moment.”
Abdulaziz is embracing Berlin’s character, but what he’s learned is that “music is appreciated at such a high level by people here.” He adds that “they don’t just listen, they live through the music.”
He plans to portray Berlin using music photography as a passport, which allows him to experience the city while documenting its inhabitants.
“My idea is to combine my own vibe of Berlin, the summer months and the music scenes together to make you feel both in front of the stage, behind it and on the outskirts.”
- Tim Lampe, CNN