Story by Matthew R. Loney
As the excesses of fashion photography melt into a more wearable – and by extension more relatable – aesthetic, a younger generation of fashion photographers are arriving on the scene with a move back to the basics. Rabee Younes is at the forefront of this shift, capturing a kind of visual austerity in his images that speak to and reflect the times we live in. His work emphasizes the relationship between photographer and model, relying on a clean visual palette that ultimately lets the beauty of his subject – both model and garment – shine through. Younes is also a gifted storyteller, creating compelling narratives through his use of setting, mood and ultimately the one-of-a-kind moments he extracts from his models.
Younes is a graduate of McMaster University and is based in Toronto. Plaid caught up with him to find out more about his work.
Is fashion becoming increasingly elite, or do you think we’re seeing more of a conscious engagement with fashion on a street level?
Fashion will always be fashion. Throughout time there has been this notion that fashion is elitist. However there have always been designers who resist this notion and create for different people. After all, behind the fashion industry are talented artists creating their personal vision for different markets and tastes.
How important is narrative when you shoot? I’m thinking about stories like “Last Days at the Big House”. Do you go into a shoot knowing what you’d like to tell, or does it happen more organically?
Before I shoot anything, there is usually an inspiration behind it. This inspiration can come from anything – a smell, a memory, a colour, or a picture. I’d say I come to a shoot knowing what the mood will be and during the shoot a more organic procedure forms the final storyline.
Is beauty more rare than we think it is, or is it there but we just have to learn to access it?
Beauty is everywhere around us, we just need to train our senses to see it.
Are you concerned at all with trends in styling or photographic technique or do you think it’s important for a fashion photographer to have a completely original voice, so to speak?
I shoot different narrative that comes from different inspiration. An inspiration can come from a fashion trend, however I always put my personal style on anything I shoot, otherwise I would be a master at copying.
How does your approach change when you’re shooting menswear?
I don’t like to deviate from stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.
What do you look for in a great model?
Firstly, how they look and if they fit the narrative context. Secondly, personality plays an important role in helping me connect with the model and assists in making or breaking a shoot.
Who are your mentors and influences? What have you learned from them?
Masters in photography like Richard Avedon, Steven Miesel, Steven Klien, Annie Liebovitz have their own unique style of work that can be recognized from a mile away. The biggest lesson I learned from them is to believe in my own style and keep it unique to myself.
What’s new and interesting in Canadian fashion that the world should pay attention to? Canada is usually overlooked as a fashion hub, but is that changing?
I believe that it is changing. Many Canadian designers are becoming more internationally recognized. We have a lot of talent here in Canada and I think we just need to give them more opportunity.
What’s next for Rabee Younes that we can look forward to?
There is always a new idea and a new message waiting to be relayed. Just stay tuned, live in the moment and let’s see what the future holds!