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Sofia Ajram

The Ontario-based photographer delves into her influences from the occult and French cinema

Sofia Ajram started humbly enough, growing up in Aurora, Ontario, "the middle of nowhere". The quiet and cold isolation of her surroundings led to her increasing interest in creating things and learning stories of occult magic; now she's pretty popular thanks to her surreal and beautiful images of beautiful women, dramatic tension, and lucid/dreamy landscapes. In her conversation with Dazed, Arjam discusses books, nightmares and sexuality...

Dazed Digital: How did you get into photography?
Sofia Ajram:
I first got into photography when I was around 12 or 13... I found this beautiful Australian girl on Livejournal who would take photos of herself in long dresses and I was so drawn to her photography that I started trying to mimic her and take self portraits of my own. Professionally though, I started in 2007 when I was hired by Truth Explosion Magazine to shoot concerts in Montreal.

DD: What was your artistic background like?
Sofia Ajram: 
My parents forced me into a great deal of artistic backgrounds when I was a child. I was taught how to paint, how to play the violin, or piano, how to synchronize swim, amongst other things. The only other visual arts field I have delved into was Graphic Design because it is beautiful and I have such an immense love for it. I received my DEC in Graphic Design this year, actually.

DD: I notice you explore a lot of dark themes in your photos, what fascinates you about those themes? 
Sofia Ajram: I loathe the kind of photography that is just a shot of something beautiful. I can't stand it, it's so stagnant. Not that it doesn't end up being beautiful as a final result, and that it shouldn't be deemed as 'art', but I love work that tells a story. If not tell a story or cycle your viewer's imagination, then to me there is no real value in fashion photography. I like darker themes because it's what has yet to be explored: the unknown.

DD: What current projects are you working on? How was 2010 been for you so far?
Sofia Ajram: I've been working on trying to start a blog that will be updated frequently, and a YouTube channel to go with it... It'll explore a lot of different fields; fashion, typography, the occult, outer space, graphic design… As for photography projects... I am so used to working with women in my photography, specifically my friend Sabrina, but I'm trying to go back to my roots of self portraiture because Halloween and the month of October has inspired me to dabble back into witchcraft in the kitchiest way. My boyfriend and I are exploring forests far from the city and are taking a series of connected photos that tell the story of two schoolkids that are introduced to ‘magick’. It will be wicked fun.

DD: How did you get into magic?
Sofia Ajram: As far back as I can remember, I suppose it was my mother. God, she used to have the most fantastic occult books. They were water damaged when we moved into this house. But there are still a few old books on Faust and the Devil and vampires in French cinema.

DD: Who are your favourite visual artists and writers?
Sofia Ajram: It changes frequently. I will always love Alison Scarpulla's work and Ellen Rogers' work. Writers? Consistently H.P. Lovecraft… House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski or The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.