Music through Tanya’s lense

The Lebanese alternative scene has expanded massively during the past few years. With the evolvement of many different music genres, it is now one of the most active in the region. Freelance photographer Tanya Traboulsi is both a staunch supporter and representative of the Lebanese underground scene. For years, she has been taking pictures of its development. Her photographs have been used for event and concert posters, album covers and artist profiles. In 2010, she issued Untitled Tracks, a book about alternative music in Beirut, in collaboration with Ziad Nawfal and Ghalya Saadawi. Mashallah News asked the talented photographer to share a few things about her work.

One Man Nation

Is there something called underground photography? If so, what makes pictures underground? The motives, or the methods used?

It definitely is what I take pictures of. If there was such a thing as ‘underground photography’, I think it would define itself through the photographed subject, not by the method used to take the picture.

What are your references in photography?

I like to start off with a book, an article, a magazine or website or something like that. From that point, I go from link to link. That way, I get to discover lots interesting photographs which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

If you had to choose one picture out of all the ones you have taken from the beginning of your career, which one would it be?

This is a really difficult question. I guess it would be a different picture every day, depending on my mood.

Why did you choose to document the underground scene in Lebanon?

When I started in 2007, things were different. A few years back, the underground scene was smaller: there was less exposure, fewer venues, and less media attention. A lot of progress has been made since that time. I found it important and interesting to document this niche. But I also knew from the start that the scene was going to grow, which it did. Today, there are so many events at the same time − which wasn’t the case before − so I can not document everything anymore, which after all is not a bad thing. But still, the alternative scene has a smaller audience than what it deserves.

Do you prefer to take pictures live, or to stage them?

I like both methods. I am always inspired by the music of the subjects, though. Of course, photos of a punk rock band are going to be different from pictures I take of a folk singer or a hip hop band.

Do you prefer taking pictures of one person or bands?

That does not really matter to me. What is important is to have a positive mood and motivation from both sides. These things really reflect in the photos.

Do you have a preference between black and white or color pictures?

I really like black and white pictures. But at the same time, it depends on the mood of the music, the place where the photos are taken, and the musicians. Sometimes, color photographs are more expressive for specific music genres, while for others, black and white fits really well.

In your craziest fantasy, who or what would your dream of photographing?

It would be someone or something related to music photography. Since I am a huge fan of Boards of Canada, it would be an amazing opportunity to photograph them. Their music has been inspiring me for many years now.

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