☆ Click to scroll ☆ [includes some of Amani's photographic work]

Photos of Amani by Nicole Rinai Joachim
Article by Jocelyn Utting

Amani Azlin

Photographer, Graphic Designer

Aquarius! (13/2)

Your photography collaborates naturalistic human shapes with abstract block colours and motifs. What are you saying by this juxtaposition and what were the catalysts to these themes?
I’d like to believe that my style in photography is one of the results of my studies in graphic design. I’ve learned to look at things differently compared to when I first held my camera. I’m starting to see more shapes and structure around me which could explain why I am always working with the human silhouettes and how I could manipulate that into my photography.  I’m also very much interested in my space and culture and how people and their experiences are shaped through that and so with this combined with the graphic element resulted in what you see most on my Instagram page. As for the colours and motifs I also have to give graphic design that credit because I only paid attention to how colours and prints could visually enhance form and function.

What characteristics of yourself are communicated through your work?
I think that I am quite a straightforward person and i try to communicate that through my work. I see myself as two separate halves with the same goal and vision but different outlook in life. On one side enjoy being alone in my own world executing my concepts and ideas through experimenting with colours and shapes and forms. I try to visualise this in most of my photos where there is a sense of loneliness/out of this world explaining why my subjects are often on their own. But on the other side, I want to step out of my world and stay in the liveliness of the city and this is transparent in some of my older photos where I would look out for interesting people to photograph. Watching people live their lives gives me a weird thrill — photos of people chatting away after work seems calming to me or that one time I saw 3 people in the market coincidentally wearing the same striped top is fun to see! And so I try to capture those moments as straightforward as I can.

Can you see characteristics of your star sign within your occupation and work?
Yes definitely! I am driven by my career goals and as mentioned, because I am so stubborn it makes it hard for me to work under someone which is one of the reasons why I freelance. I am my own boss and when I do work with people it’s always a collaboration between us and not a relationship where I would receive orders and then take action. I need my own space mentally and physically so having that power and energy to trust yourself to go out and to push forward everyday towards your goal is very empowering for me.

Do you share the same strengths and weaknesses Aquarians are known for?
To me an Aquarius woman is independent, ambitious, creative yet so stubborn and a bit hot tempered. The most prominent thing about being and Aquarius for me is the individualism I feel in myself and I consider this both a strength and a weakness. I feel like because I am so aware of who I am, learning and understanding my needs to better myself as a person but also a creative I do believe that I have a one of kind view towards the world that is my own. However, this also means that I am quite distant and disconnected with some which is the more popular definition used for us aquarians. I enjoy my time alone too much sometimes that I do worry if it’s normal but I find that I flourish more especially creatively after spending that 1/2 days off alone in my own world, escaping from the daily hustles in my work or social life.

Have you always been interested in your star sign?
Yes, ever since I was in high school I have always tried to check up on myself by reading my star sign. This came about from trying to understand who I am and what kind of personality do I have. I am not the best with words so when it is time to explain myself or describe why I do certain things I find it very troublesome. I became slightly obsessed with reading up on anything that could help me try to figure myself.

What traits about your star sign do you like/dislike?
I think I am quite spontaneous in big decision making in my life. For example, I didn’t plan on doing graphic design in college. I’ve been into photography since I was 15 but didn’t wanna study it so I ended up choosing graphic design because it was a newly introduced course at that college and it sounded like I get to do something creative but also learn new skills. But another thing about my personality is that I am so eager to do what I want. Once Ive set my mind to something I must do it the way I’ve envisioned it which is great for me when it comes to passion and enthusiasm because it’s always there but once someone else decides to tell me no or do something else I just shut them off which is not the best trait to have especially once you start working. This is my entire personality in a nutshell — i’m open to anything most of the time but when I know what I want I only want that and nothing else.

Are you more interested in looking up into the stars or keeping your feet heavy on the ground?
Of course in reality we need a bit of both but at the end of the day I am more interested to look up. I am quite a dreamer and even my name means to aspire in Arabic so I think I am born to live within the stars and the clouds instead of staying grounded all the time.

How has gender played a role in your artwork?
It’s been a huge role in my work. I mostly collaborate with women in my photography because I do believe in the female gaze. How women see women is very much different compared to how men see us. I don’t want the photography work thats being put out there (especially from my country) to be so heavily invested in the women’s body but not by the women’s eyes — I am working with women to create a visual narrative in which they are still the main heroines yet not carry any sexual undertones. Small details like how a photographer poses their models, how they contextualise the model within their idea says a whole lot. It’s not just about the women I put in front of my camera but it’s also about how I work as the creative behind the camera.
I am on a mission to show that you don’t need to have someone as an object of desire in order to create beautiful work.

What is one of the most interesting aspects of femininity that you have discovered?
I am truly so grateful to be born a woman. We can be so strong and strict but still relieve a sense of softness in us. One thing that I find interesting is the woman’s intuition and how we could be so in sync with our bodies to the point of trusting it full heartedly when we need it. It's quite wonderful how there’s no other way of explaining this intuition other than the saying of to trust your gut. Ive always thought it’s quite mystical even.

What’s a piece of advise you’d want to give your future self?
I’ll say this to myself tomorrow and I’ll say this to myself in 2 years — don’t rush. Work hard and be honest in your career and you will get to your goals one day.