Cinematographer Salma El Kashef is the first Artist of the Month in our year-long series done in collaboration with Art Egypt spotlighting Egyptian artists.
by Art Egypt photography by Salma El Kashef
Salma El Kashef is a cinematographer whose striking photography plays with light and captures people in intimate, personal moments. Her subjects often seem to be living in their own worlds, unaware they’re being photographed, while the images tell stories of love, depression, heartbreak and hopes. El Kashef has quickly gained a following on Instagram, where her photos are often accompanied by captions full of reflections and insights relatable to thousands of her followers. “Salma is a very special and discrete photographer and has a unique style different from everyone,” says the Art Egypt team. “Not a week passes by without a new project and photos from her with colors, lighting, composition, transparency and spirit. You will find all of this only with Salma El Kashef, or as we like to call her, ‘The Immortal River.’”
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your background?
I’m a cinematographer and focus puller. It literally means writing in light. Therefore, it is as much to do with lighting and photography as it is with film. The cinematographer is a role of its own, and is also known as the Director of Photography. This includes all aspects of camera work: camera shots, angles, movement, filters, lighting, filmstock (video, 16mm, 35mm), composition, and so on. A focus puller, or 1st assistant camera, is a member of a film crew’s camera department whose primary responsibility is to maintain image sharpness on whatever subject or action is being filmed.
I studied at the High Cinema Institute in Egypt. Photography isn’t my job — I don’t make money out of it. I do it because it’s a part of me. Anything that I feel I photograph is a reflection of either myself or those around me.
What inspires your art?
Depression, love and life. Life inspires me every day. Also, spending time in my own head is important. What are your thoughts on working in Egypt as an artist?
Egypt can sometimes bring you down so much that it allows you to create really deep art, which I think is an advantage. And also a disadvantage, because when it does bring you down, it makes you want to leave and not do anything here.
I pick a good place and try to find a good lighting spot. And sometimes I create light and play with it.
Do you plan your shoots, or do you work spontaneously?
Actually I’m a very spontaneous person, because being spontaneous means that you’ll get a new idea and go with it, and not stick to the same routine. My favorite photographs were unexpected.
Who are your favorite Egyptian photographers?
I have a lot in my mind — I can’t name them all. But I think we have a lot of buried talents in Egypt.
Follow El Kashef on Instagram at @salmaelkashef.
Art Egypt (@art_egypt) is an Instagram account that boasts the largest database of young artists in the country. Their aim is to promote contemporary fine art from today’s most talented Egyptian artists. To be considered for upcoming Artist of the Month features, send your artwork to Art Egypt at email@example.com.