At 22, Olivia Ghalioungui has already established an impressive career. A talented and accomplished photographer, her main focus is on fashion and journalism photography. Coming from a multi-ethnic family, she is a creative artist with a rich heritage and cross-cultural experiences.
Olivia grew up between Cairo, Egypt, and Antiparos, Greece. She attended Cairo American College Elementary School between 2005 and 2016. At the age of 17, she moved to Paris to pursue a career in the fashion photography industry.
Her talent quickly shone and had the opportunity to work with clients such as Marie De La Roche, GUNTHER PARIS, Premium Models, Kanika Agarwal, etc.
âOlivia Ghalioungui’s photography covers a vast artistic landscape. Her work ranges from highly stylized fashion editorials for publications like Vogue to newspaper and analog photos, the intimate and stripped-down quality of which gives viewers the impression that they have been taken to momentarily discover her spaces and relationships. more intimate.
Dream page, Anna Koutelas
The start for Olivia Ghalioungui
Kulture Hub: How did you find out about photography? Did you get into fashion photography because you are in fashion personally?
Olivia Ghalioungui: I discovered photography when I was in high school. I needed artistic credit and chose photography because it seemed the most interesting to me.
I mainly discovered photography through street photography and documentary photography. Cairo was a really culturally rich place to start photographing. In that sense, I was able to grow up in a place where it was so easily accessible to me.
Then I started shooting more portraits and from portrait photographs I started to organize looks and styles for my subjects. From there, I started to get more and more interested in fashion. Back in Cairo days, the fashion scene was not as big as it is now. I wanted so badly to get into fashion at the time, but I had nothing to work with.
I had a family friend who had a fashion label. She wanted some help with the fashion show, and I was able to go and be the photographer at the booth and film the entire fashion show. It was my first interaction with the fashion world.
From that point on, I was like this was what I wanted to do. I started doing research in art schools and came to Paris. In Paris, I really started my career as a fashion photographer. This is how I entered the fashion scene. Because in Paris, as you can imagine, there is a lot more than in Cairo.
Culture of taste
KH: How has your career as a fashion photographer influenced your taste and fashion sense?
OG: I definitely started to find out what kind of style and clothes I like the most by working with different styles. I feel like there is a clear separation between what I would wear on my own, like my taste and fashion for myself and my taste and fashion for photography. I just found myself more drawn to pieces that are super unique or original or different in some way, something maybe never seen before.
I discovered all these pieces thanks to the styling of sites with different stylists, magazines or designers that I met. I discovered their work and then used their clothes later for photo shoots or in showrooms as well. When they have new samples, they email me and tell me I can see what’s new.
For personal style, it was also a journey. Sometimes I would like to go and buy something crazy that you really can’t wear on the street.
Developing personal style
KH: There is this fluidity in your work, like a consistency like âit’s so Oliviaâ. How did you develop your own style and aesthetic and how long did it take?
OG: Oh, that’s a difficult question to answer because I personally feel like I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Everyone around me tells me it’s so obvious when I took a photo and created it. But personally, I feel like my vision and inspirations are constantly changing. I feel like the things I photograph, the subjects or places that appeal to me the most, for example, are always changing.
But I naturally feel like something about the way I see the images or the composition always stays the same. It’s very reassuring for me because I can trust myself not to go off the track in another direction where I would lose myself completely in that direction.
I think the key to finding your own style is to take lots of photos and print your work on inkjet paper and lay it on the floor. Look at them all together and rearrange them. By looking at all of your photos in the field and really analyzing and thinking about which images I identify with the most.
Thoughts on Contemporary Social Media and Fashion Photography
KH: Do you take fashion photos with your phone on a daily basis? What do you think of those quick and easy aesthetic photos on social media like Instagram these days?
OG: I don’t take any of my fashion photos with my phone. But I saw images of magazine covers shot on the new iPhone. It’s crazy. I feel like I would like to try it someday in the near future, just to see how it works.
But I think my take on taking fashion images with a phone is that it’s kind of inevitable that it will happen. These tiny phone lenses would have the ability to shoot something of the same quality maybe as a canon or a Nikon camera, for example.
A camera is so much more different than a phone. The way I learned about photography, it’s very important that I hold an old-fashioned camera, photograph with my index finger, and press over each other.
With a camera you can use a polarizing lens and you can use all these mounts on your lens to make it look different. Of course there are now these lenses for iPhone, but I prefer the more manual feel of shooting on a real DSLR or like an analog camera. It just feels more personal or physical.
I think these aesthetic fashion images on Instagram are cute. The minimalist trend going on right now is like a pairing with the retro clothing of the 90s. It’s actually a very nice aesthetic, but I feel like when I’m photographing fashion, I prefer it to be on a unique, newer, bolder piece that you wouldn’t wear on the street. It’s like less streetwear.
Olivia Ghalioungui’s Most Memorable Filming Experience
KH: What’s your most memorable fashion photo shoot? What is so special about this experience? How did that inspire you?
OG: It happened like many years ago. It was a campaign for a brand of bags. They took me to Porto to shoot their new campaign. I remember it was in 2018. That exact weekend I flew to Porto, there were these horrible hurricanes happening in Portugal and Lisbon and I love coming to Porto, just when we were spinning.
We were shooting outside by the sea and the weather was very windy. We were literally shooting in a hurricane, but we still managed to pull off this amazing shoot with some very, very cool footage. It really pushed me and I really sat there thinking I was shooting a campaign during a hurricane in Portugal. I don’t even live here. It was a very memorable shoot, so it will always be the most special experience and the most unique shoot I have ever done.
About fashion photography
KH: Can you tell us more about fashion photography? What do you think is the purpose of fashion photography
OG: For me, the purpose of fashion photography is to showcase different pieces of clothing for designers. See them more as works of art or structures that you want to photograph in beautiful light and showcase beautifully while creating a story for the clothes. The general public can watch and imagine this story in their head.
I see people like to daydream. They like to imagine themselves in these idealistic worlds as something random. The audience is sort of like, oh, I wanna be in this business. I want to have this. I want to apply this vibe to my life. And I want to buy this part. I want to feel like I’m in this light.
Inspirations and personal growth
KH: who are your greatest inspirations in the world of photography?
OG: I love Nadine Ijewere, she is Jamaican. Her style is amazing and her colors are crazy. I also love this photographer called Min Hyun-Woo. His photographs are just breathtaking. His work really speaks to me. Also, Viviane Sassen, it’s like the original inspiration.
KH: Looking at where you’re from, what are the biggest growths and progress you’ve made so far?
OG: I think the discovery of myself was one of the greatest advancements. After a few years, I really understood what it means to understand what your style is and how to explain your style or aesthetic or to be able to defend why you do what you do. When I first went out I was just taking pictures, but now I feel like I have found new meaning in me.
KH: What are your suggestions for aspiring photographers?
OG: I would say probably like do it. First, decide if you really want to shoot analog or digital. I would say start filming with a camera and not a phone. You have to learn technical stuff like ISO and shutter speed and manual functions to be able to understand how light works. You can’t learn this from a phone because it does everything for you.
It doesn’t matter what camera, as long as it’s a DSLR, you can change your lenses. Through this, you will realize or learn what your eyes are naturally drawn to. You have to start somewhere. You might as well start filming literally whatever you want and see.
Discover Olivia’s fashion photography work
If you like this interview and would like to know more about Olivia, check out her personal website and Instagram page.