City Girl (Un jour de fille)

  • Photographer: Aesha Malik
  • Creative Director/Lighting Designer: Mario Mule
  • Female Model/Makeup Artist: Bryanna Elkins

Exclusive Interview

Who Is Aesha Malik?

Aesha Malik is a portrait and fashion photographer and is the founder of Your Product, Your Shot Studios. As a fashion photographer I mainly do commerical work such as portraits, headshots, I also work with models (both freelance or agency) to formulate editorials, portfolios and do publications for magazines. At present I have been published in 6 magazines internationally and am being featured on a popular YouTube Photography contest series called Photo Boxers. I was the winner of Ep 4 of that contest. I'm also a student completing my final year in Sheridan College's Digital Photography program with an emphasis on fashion photography as my major.

How would you describe your style?

Since I try to capture the true essence of my subject and how they truly are at the given moment in their life my style is closely associated with realism. I'm a fan of capturing natural beauty because I believe my subject gives a unique beauty to the lens at any age, as a women who is 20 and a woman who is 80 is equally beautiful in their own unique way. For me it is important to capture that truth. The moment that the subject forgets that they are responding to a lens and that another human being is at the other end of the lens is when the connection forms and that connection is the inspiration for me.

Where do you find your inspiration / what inspires you?

Many things inspire me as a photographer, such as my dreams, my ambitions and goals. Every day is a form of visual inspiration as there's something new to experience and discover. Travel, my family, and my friends inspire me. In terms of fashion, I look up to the work of the masters such as Patrick Demarchelier, Albert Watson, Vincent Peters, Vivian Maier, and Saul Leiter. A photographer who has had the greatest influence on my style and direction in photography is Peter Lindbergh. He was the main reason why I fell in love with the medium of black and white as his portraits are like stills or a frame in between two stills in a movie, they contain that half a secound containing all the emotion and story. The beauty of Peter's work is that he photographed the person and the beauty of that person, so then it's not so much about the clothing but about the person inside the clothing and that is called woman or man. He wanted to see the wrinkles, the lines in backs of the hands, the little crows feet in the eyes because he believed that there is beauty at any age. Peter was a fan of minimal retouching and an advocate of natural beauty. Real beauty contains truth, and this is the style that I closely follow. This is a quote of his that I follow and greatly respect, "You are beautiful when you have the courage to be yourself, " - Peter Lindbergh

Were you born with a camera in your hand or at what point did you start?

I was always a big believer in creativity and was a fine arts painter prior to staring my photography business. As the years moved on I fell more in love with photography as it was a form of instant painting. I could instantly form an image that would take me 3 weeks to make before or longer in a matter of secounds or in a fraction of a secound. My grandfather had a Minolta Rangefinder and I would experiment with 35mm film growing up taking photos of our trips and family travels back home in Pakistan. When I grew up film was always around my home, Kodachrome 64 was a family favorite, so the inspiration was there in photography at an early age.

What gear do you most enjoy using at the moment and why?

My most favorite lens at moment is my Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 due to it's low light capabilities. It's a fantastic lens to have due to its great focal range for all subjects whether you are doing wide angle portraits, everyday 35mm street scenes or shooting portraits at the 50mm mark. My most used portrait lens would have to be my Canon 70-300mm f4, which is a fantastic telephoto for portraits with sharp focus. My camera is a simple Canon Rebel T6 and I also like shoot with my Nikon D7000. For me it's not about the gear but more so about the artistic vision of the photographer that truly matters.

What do you look for when scouting new locations?

Composition, I also like having a narrative to a still image because I feel that having a narrative makes it a richer image. I look closely to see if the compositional elements of scene fulfill the narrative I have in my mind. I also look at light, in particular its directionality, intensity and relative size. Outdoors I like using natural light but if I'm working indoors then it's mainly artificial lighting (speedlight, strobe or continous) so ambient exposure and flash control is important for me.

What advice would you share with aspiring photographers?

Daily shooting and training the eye is key. Even if it's just one picture a day the idea is to practice daily as the technical will slowly come with practise, especially when working in the studio. Preparation is also another key element for success and a large percentage of that preparation for a shoot should be creative thinking. Don't be afraid to try something unique and to think outside the softbox. Pick a master who's work you greatly like or admire and try to deconstruct their images to study lighting, pose, expression or composition. In the end, listen to the opinions of everyone around you, but in the end believe in your work, and do what is best for you and your particular style.

What have you got coming up in 2021, that you are super excited about?

I'm currently being featured on a popular YouTube Photography contest series called Photo Boxers. I'm the winner of episode 4 and look forward to continuing my journey on ep 5 as a contestant. I love the creative freedom of being on the show and to see the unique visions of the others. I also look forward to many new publications, editorial work and creative shoots as the year unfolds. Perhaps even doing some destination shoots if travel is opened up again soon, so I look forward to it.