Can you give us an overview of yourself? Who are you? What do you do? Why are you doing it? Where are you from?
I am an audio-visual artist from Germany, specializing in photography. Today I held 7 exhibitions and I got sponsorships by institutions like Vodafone. When I was 16 years old my parents bought me my first DSLR and I started taking photos of landscapes and flowers. Just for fun, nothing serious. A few months later I helped a friend of mine with an art project for a local artist competition. So he build a small object using melted plastic, colors and lots of chemicals and I took some photos of it. I also used different post-processing techniques to give them a surrealistic look. These were some really crazy pictures…and a few weeks later we won the competition with them. This is where I started seeing photography as more than just a hobby. This is where it became art for me.
At the same time I found some amazing artists who inspired me to extend my photography style. So I stopped taking photos of landscapes and flowers and started shooting portraits. From then on my creativity made me do things I’ve never thought of before. I began doing whatever my instinct told me and this is what I still do. I turn ideas into photos using art.
“Berlin-London Love” by Dennis Afraz
You’re 20!? Your body of work is amazing. Very prolific and eclectic. We love that here. Has it been difficult being so young and trying to gain respect?
Especially when I was very young it was very hard to find someone who wanted to be my model. So I shot photos of my close friends first and then, when their friends saw the pictures, I shot photos of my friends’ friends. At that point people started taking me and my work seriously.
The 3 big things you (seem) to do are photography, design, and music. Can you talk about the significance of each and how they intertwine for you?
When I was very young I had way too much free time and instead of wasting it I wanted to be creative. So I started experimenting with digital arts and started composing music on my piano. At this time music was definitely the most important thing to me because it gave me the opportunity to show my emotions in a new and exciting way. So design was more for learning something about digital arts and music for expressing myself.
I composed music for 4 years, starting at age 15. I produced about 300 songs from different kinds of genres but most of them were short soundtracks. In addition I had a friend who produced movies. I also scored some of his films (including a feature film which was later shown in a local theater). All for free. I never took any money for my music. And I never will. Emotions shouldn’t be sold.
As I already said I got into photography at the age of 16 but at that time it hadn’t any importance for me. It was just a hobby…but after recieving an award for my works everything changed drastically: I started putting more and more time into photo ideas instead of composing or designing something. So as time went by photography became my number one tool for expressing my feelings and experimenting. And this is how my work as a designer and musician slowly discontinued…
“Go Home Hero (Main Title)” by Dennis Afraz
Do you have a favorite work that you can share with us?
It’s always hard to name a favourite work of an artist but at the moment it’s the picture of my best friend:
She’s my muse, the only one who encourages me when I am lost in a chaos of creativity. And the picture shows exactly how I see her: Beautiful, warming and content.
“LIFE UP” by Dennis Afraz
What is your process when taking pictures of people? I’ve noticed you take portraits that have a lot of feeling and seem to truly express a certain essence to your subjects. Can you talk about your shooting process? Is it casual? Do you speak to your subjects while shooting? Do you pose them?
Portrait photography is always an exciting challenge for me because it requires so much knowledge of human nature.
So I don’t just take photos. I meet my models and by the way I take the photos. I speak to them all the time to make them feel confident and show them that I am a friend, not a stranger…I show them that I am interested in their characters. At the same time I avoid making them pose for me because that would interrupt my idea of capturing their nature. So there’s no casual way to handle a shooting. Of course I give them a few hints when they need some but in the end every shooting is unique.
My pictures show people the way I see them and what you see in my photography are moments where I captured souls.
“Living a Life-Story” by Dennis Afraz
Design! Is this mostly client work? Do you make money doing this? Where do your inspirations come from?
Nearly all design works on my website were made for fun. I made money doing design just a few times.
My inspiration comes from everything. Nature, works of different (visual) artists, music, dreams, nightmares…. somehow it always ends up in an idea. And when I think the time is right I just grab my Wacom and start creating something. Unfortunately most of my design works are pretty old because I don’t have enough time for design anymore.
Music. Your compositions are heartfelt and gorgeous. What do you listen to in your free time and how does it influence your work. Are you classically trained? Can you talk about your fascination with soundtracks (something we share) and where you hope to take your music in the future?
My compositions were inspired by different genres. So there’s no particular artist I could name but I love the music of Thomas Newman, Keith Kenniff, Jesper Kyd, Alan Silvestri, Armand Amar, Daft Punk, Danny Elfman, Niki Reiser, Howard Shore and Vladimir Cosma.
When I finished school life made me chose what I wanted to do for a living: Design, music or photography? It was pretty difficult for me to decide about this but then I landed on photography because it was the only thing I was really successful with. So I collected my favourite compositions, made a Best-Of-album and stopped composing and producing music. This is where my music came to an end.
“Past Forward” by Dennis Afraz
Can you give some advice to the young artists (like you) that exist in our society? How can they grow as you have?
The only advice I can give is: Do, what you love. Don’t think about critics. Stay with your friends, they’ll give you enough power to conquer the world. And never give up.
“World in Love” by Dennis Afraz
You can find more of Dennis online on his website. We hope you enjoyed this interview.