DOCUMENT the Fresh – Interviews: Mariama Rafetna

pic7Who or what first got you interested in photography?

I can’t say exactly, I just always remember having this supreme fascination for “a great picture” when looking at family albums, magazines – and just wanting to be the type of person who can create such a phenomenon. As I got older – especially as my father (a musician) noticed my interest in photography – told me he used to shoot professionally during his childhood-young adult years, as he was mentored by his step-father who was a professional artist and photographer as well.

For the entire read clickEarly on what were some of the first things that you began to document? 

I got my first 35mm film camera when I was a kid. It was a light green Ninja Turtle camera that printed out images of the turtles on the developed photos lol.  I want to say I was about 10/11 – I took lots of random sky photos (then was upset when none of the detail came out in the developed photos), plants and flowers – loved going to the zoo or aquarium to take pics – still do. I took lots of pictures of my little sister (especially during her tantrums lol, she was so cute when she cried) and our old cat Velvet – who I used to dress up often against her will. Lol

I still like to shoot the same things in a sense – nature stuff, my 5 year old nephew and my cat Roscoe – in addition to music. 🙂

What is it about photography that you most enjoy?

Photography is all about the moment, it reminds us that everything is temporary and that our point of views are all unique. It forces us to LIVE in a moment.

Capturing the LOVE that these artists have for their craft, the music they give birth to and the lives that they have created for themselves as a result. There’s a very special energy to be felt when you’re surrounded by people living their dream.

pic5Talk about the first event and or concert that you shot.  How’d it go?

The very very first concert I shot (and liked) was just me really taking pics as a fan because I was so into the show. It was a Clipse concert at the old Knitting Factory in NYC in 2008 I believe. Maybe only 1 out of every 10 was good, but I remember being surprisingly impressed with how the “good” photos came out and then instantly mad that I didn’t have a real camera and knowing that I wanted to pursue it further.

 Depending on the concert, shooting them and live events can be a harrowing experience.  Any tricks of the trade on getting the “right” shot?

The lighting struggle is very real, especially at shows where their lighting changes throughout the set. I just try to stay very focused, not paying any attention to the people around me – only what’s in front of me, and getting to where I need to be early so I can claim my spot before the other photogs (and then respectfully “fighting” to keep my spot)! Sometimes enjoying the show too much is a problem because my body wants to dance or get hyped instead of hold the camera still. lol

 What have been some of your favorite events and or concerts to shoot?

I just love shooting artists whose music I genuinely love. The more I like the artipic1st, usually the better the photos.

 When shooting a show are there specific angles or even signature shots that you like to get?

I’m really big on close-up facial expressions. It reveals so much about an artist, makes me feel like I’m seeing their soul

Shooting musicians and or groups at an event can be an experience (both good and bad).  Any stories that you care to share?

One of my fav moments while shooting musicians was earlier this year at Ab-Soul’s first solo show in NYC. I was backstage, and my goal was to get a group shot of “Black Hippy” but when I got back there Schoolboy Q and Jayrock had bounced. I saw Kendrick and asked if I could get a photo of him with Ab-Soul and he immediately thought I wanted a photo with him so he came over to me and put his arm around my waist to pose for the photo and I was like NOOO.. I WANT TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE WITH AB-SOUL.. lol I ended up taking a photo with him anyway as he is one of my favorites right now and he went and got Ab-Soul for me so that I could take their photo – I thought that was really dope.

For me the bad experiences are the groupies and fans that hog the front of the stage and get in the way of your shots!! lol.

I also almost got trampled at an ASAP Ferg show when his entire crew jumped into the crowd. Then ASAP Rocky got onstage and all the chicks made a mad dash toward the stage trying to kill me to get at him.

There was also the time that I had a potent brownie one night before going out to shoot a show, let’s just say I will never do that again.pic8

What kind of gear are you using these days?

I mostly shoot with my Canon20d for performances… It’s a touch heavier than newer models, lesser pixels but something about her…  we just get along well.

Film vs digital?

I’m a digital girl. I hope to be proficient in both one day though.

Why do you think photography has experienced such a resurgence?

I think we’ve moved into a very visual society… Once upon a time a photo was worth a thousand words, I think it’s more like a million now. People don’t want to write, they don’t want read.. they want to SEE.

What do you have coming up and or what are you currently working on?

I’ve been working on project called “Hello Blu3Bird: A Brooklyn Love Affair”. It’s a mixed media book – half photography, half poetry about connecting with nature, finding peace, celebrating beauty and embracing LOVE in all its forms – all from a Brooklyn point of view. You can check out more about the project by visiting & following “HelloBlu3Bird” on Instagram.


To view more of Mariama’s work check out her site.

For more info about the DOCUMENT the Fresh – NYC photo exhibition click here.


About gmoney77

My name is Gerald Watson and I do lifestyle marketing for various companies/agencies. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the people I work with, the work I do as well as the shit I see on the regular.

Posted on September 19, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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