Pursuing Brave Dreams

An Interview with Oumayma B. Tanfous

From Tunisia to Montreal, Oumayma is an emerging photographer who recently moved to New York to pursue brave dreams. Oumayma has worked with Dazed, Frank&Oak, Document Journal, and been featured as a female force by Vogue Spain. Enjoy.

Hi Oumayma! Welcome to NY! How has making the move impacted your photography?

Everyone is here! I can now access magazines I’ve always wanted to collaborate with. I can pitch whatever I have in mind and meet people. New York is the entire world mixed up in a city. All types of faces. Which is nice when you come from a place where you felt like the other one. In New York I don’t feel like the exotic one on set. You never know where everyone is from and that’s really cool.

I started thinking about moving to New York after my shoot for Vogue Spain, 2 years ago. It was amazing for me because I thought, okay, these dreams in my head are pos- sible. I can collaborate with these people. At some point I stopped dreaming for a while. So mentally, it opened a big door of possibility. In French we say, “j’ai beaucoup de pain sur la planche”- it basically means I have a lot of work to do and things to learn. Being here is a nice start.

Tell us about a recent shoot you’re proud of.

I’m really hard on myself so I’m never extremely proud. But one that comes to mind is for an indie magazine called PHOSPHENES. I took a portrait of a grandmother who went through the revolution in the Dominican Republic. I photographed her in her home with her family while they were cooking and listening to music. It was very special for me to be in their home and around a Hispanic family in Washington Heights because it’s all new to me. I love observing how people act together in a group or how they live. Seeing the small details of her kitchen. I’m exploring the concept of family in sub-communities.

What’s on your bookshelf?

Female Maghrib authors from Algeria and Morocco. When I first moved here I started reading “Americana” which is a good book when you move to America to understand things about America… A very mysterious answer! Haha! The author is Nigerian. She writes about a girl who moves to the US and starts a blog to share her experiences being Afro-American and being African, which are totally differ- ent. All of the subtleties.

Tell us about your recent shoot for the artist collective, and every Montrealer’s favourite dance party, Moonshine.

This was super fun for me because all of the people from Moonshine are immigrants and I’m also an immigrant. Moonshine creates a sense of community. You go to these parties and everyone is from different places, dancing together ‘til 4am. And it’s cool because Moonshine is a celebration of where they (the artists) come from: Congo, all across Africa… This project was all about celebrating the African diaspora. Having fun and also making fun of ourselves. We were shooting at Nissan’s (one of the guys) mom’s apartment in Montreal. You can see an image of her standing in a doorway. I was shooting her naturally while she was cleaning, eating her lunch, she didn’t care! She had fun!

Anything you’re missing so far about home in Canada?

I miss it a lot for the nature. Everytime I go back to Montreal I take photos of the trees.

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