Arya Shirazi: Fashion, Beauty & Commercial Photographer – Interview

Arya Shirazi is a fashion, beauty and commercial photographer from Germany. He has worked for big names like L’Oréal Paris, ELLE, L’officiel, Mediengruppe RTL and ProSieben. Today he tells us a bit about his life and profession as a photographer.

Photography, professional, personal life: Arya Shirazi

FIV: What kind of person are you? How would friends and family describe you?

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Arya Shirazi: Friends and family – that makes no difference to me, they are super important to me! I place a lot of value on that. I love the moments when I have everyone with me in my living room. That’s a perfect evening for me: Dinner by Ari. Cooking is also one of my passions – especially for my loved ones. In the worst moments, people have started calling me Mariah because I’m told I can be very impulsive. But in general, I’m a very loving, stubborn.
and funny person. At least that’s what my friends say about me – just asked 🙂

Insider tips for Düsseldorf

FIV: What does Düsseldorf mean to you? What are your favourite places and insider tips for eating out in your city?

Arya Shirazi: To be honest, Düsseldorf was never my adopted home. I went to university here and did my bachelor’s degree in communication design. At that time I was still commuting from my home in Bonn to Düsseldorf, about 2 hours each way. 5 years later I could not escape my fate. I think the saying: “Where love falls” fits here. But Düsseldorf has become a part of me. I feel very comfortable here because I also have great people around me. My insider tip here in Düsseldorf is the viewing platform on the Tonhalle, there you have a beautiful view over the Rhine. With a glass of wine and some snacks it can also be romantic. We love to walk with our dog Pluto along the Rhine in Oberkassel and when we go out to eat, we go to our favorite sushi restaurant “BABA Sushi” in Pempelfort. Who does not like sushi (I can not understand), I recommend the restaurant “Oktopussy” also in Pempelfort.

FIV: Can you remember the first photo you ever took? Were you already creative and enthusiastic about photography in your childhood and youth?

Arya Shirazi: WOW, I would have to think a little longer…. I think one of my first photos (conceptually speaking) was of my sister. As kids, we recreated a lot of shoots of our favorite artists (Britney Spears, Aaliyah, Beyonce, etc). I kind of don’t like to say of myself that I’m a creative person, but apparently I kind of am and was when I was a kid. I stole my sister’s dolls and designed clothes for them or gave them a new hairstyle. Of course, my sister didn’t like that. My grandfather was a dentist, but also an artist in Iran, his paintings still hang in museums. My father drew a lot and was also very creative and interested in photography. Maybe I inherited something from them? I grew up with cameras and video cameras, so I knew very early how they worked.

FIV: When and how did you start taking photographs regularly?

Arya Shirazi: It all started with Britney Spears. #fanboy since I am 8 years old: I collected everything, BRAVO, posters, CDs and so on. At some point I started to get interested in who actually takes these photos on the covers? That’s when I came across David LaChapelle. At that time a huge role model for me! I was and still am fascinated by his work. I have a big family and then I started photographing my sister and all my cousins and then at some point I swapped them out with models- sorry for that. Haha no, not kidding, in fact that’s how I started shooting portraits.

FIV: How did you turn your hobby into a profession? Did you do an apprenticeship or did you learn from a photographer as an assistant?

Arya Shirazi:In the 10th grade, I finished my technical high school diploma and then went to the glass design school in Rheinbach and completed my technical diploma and an apprenticeship as a design assistant. At this school we also had photography as a subject. We were allowed to realize our projects and ideas in the studio and photo lab provided. During the training there was an open day at the university in Düsseldorf. Two
Classmates told of an aptitude test that one would have to take. Photo work was also allowed here. I found that interesting, applied and unexpectedly passed the test with the topic “In danger and greatest need, the middle way brings death” and was allowed to study communication design in Düsseldorf. During my studies I was able to assist some photographers and thus broaden my experience.

After my studies I didn’t feel ready for self-employment, so I started a traineeship as a photo editor at Mediengruppe RTL. I think that was the best decision of my life, because at the time I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing for me. I met my closest friends during that time there and I believe very strongly in fate and for me there are no coincidences in life. I didn’t have a fixed plan for self-employment. It all turned out that way. Today, MG RTL is one of my most important customers and I am grateful for the people who believed in me so much, because without them I would not have been able to start my own business so spontaneously.

FIV: To what extent do your chosen topics of fashion and beauty influence your private life?

Arya Shirazi: Honestly, I don’t think it affects my personal life in any way. I love it when you don’t have to think about what to wear at the moment either. You know what I mean about that? For example, I love to chill with a T-shirt and sweatpants – sorry Karl Lagerfeld – and not even think about it, but maybe that’s kind of influencing, right?

FIV: You have a list of well-known clients. Which of your past projects do you remember most fondly?

Arya Shirazi: All my projects have been cool so far! It is always important to me that the team gets along and this is usually the case most of the time. But I also think that the photographer can influence this and also has to make it his job that the mood is good. Even though it’s not necessarily my visual language, I love shooting the Bachelorette and Bachelor. I’ve been doing that for over 3 years now. You grow together as a family and you look forward to the time together.
One of my favorite shoots of 2019 was the photo spread with Nadine Leopold for Bulgarian ELLE. Nadine is known as VS Angel and I think it’s a special feeling for every photographer to have someone you admire or think is great in front of the lens.

Photography as a hobby

FIV: Nowadays, everyone can take photos with their smartphone and for laymen, differences to professional photographers are harder to recognize than ever before. What do you think really matters, what makes a good photographer for you?

Arya Shirazi:I don’t think it’s a negative that it’s easier to take good photos with smartphones these days. Whether a layman can tell the difference between who’s doing it professionally and who’s not doesn’t really matter, does it? As far as I’m concerned, everyone should be given the opportunity to be creative. A good camera does not make a photographer professional. A photographer should be a good team player and not make an ego thing out of it. Being able to approach people and empathize with what the client wants, for example, definitely helps. With freelance productions, hair & make-up or stylists also have their ideas, which you should listen to and respond to. It’s always a joint effort. You can have the best team and the greatest model in the world, but, if you have a dumb guy behind the
camera, then the pictures are just as stupid.

FIV: Where do you get your inspiration for your photos?

Arya Shirazi: Life is an inspiration, the good and bad experiences we have, the music we listen to, everything we see can be an inspiration.
I grew up in a very large family and for the most part I have a lot of strong women as aunts and cousins. But the strongest for me are my mum and my sister, who have been through a lot due to my father’s illness, who is now in a wheelchair.

The women in front of my camera are strong, cool and don’t take any shit!

Plans & Goals of the Photographer

FIV: What are your further goals and plans for your career? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?

Arya Shirazi: I have many big and small goals. But I don’t think about them every day because I firmly believe that everyone gets what they deserve. My plan is to just keep going and believe in my dreams and be firmly convinced that you can achieve anything you want – despite the downs you will have in between 🙂 Who knows, maybe one day an 8 year old kid will look at the booklets of his favorite singer that I shot and want to become a photographer?

Arya Shirazi Photography: Website

The FIV editorial team wishes you continued success!