Don't Sleep on Photographer Zhamak The Cat
Multi-talented artist Zhamak Fullad explores her surroundings all over the world as she showcases her photography portfolio that ranges from behind the scenes shoots with artists like Travis Scott and Quavo, to fashion editorials with brands like Off-White and Adidas. Her curated gallery on her Instagram is a display of her ongoing photographic recording of her personal life, friends, musicians, editorials and much more. Her dreams extend beyond photography; however, it will never not be an important part of her life.
“One day I want to get into Hollywood and write movies and win an Oscar, but photography will always be the love of my life.”
With the hopes to publish a zine in the near future, Fullad emphasizes the importance of embedding unique style, culture, and passion within a portfolio. Dive deeper with this rising photographer as she talks more about her culture, concepts, and collaborations.
Where are you from and how has your background shaped you as a photographer?
I’m originally from Tehran, Iran, but I moved to Canada when I was 12. Photography was such an accident for me. I always wanted to be a heart surgeon actually and got into Sciences. I studied pre-med and ended up dropping out when I was 21 to start photography. Both my parents have their photography degrees, but it was super hard for them to understand that I wanted to pursue photography as a career. Especially to Persian parents art isn’t really the social norm in Iran as a career choice. I felt a little rebellious honestly, but there was so much art around me that it made no sense to become a surgeon when my life has always revolved around Art. I was MADE for this!
In terms of influences from Iran, I would say my style is completely different. We don’t have rappers touring in Iran, nor do we really have the same editorial concepts or press. Whatever art happens in Iran is usually just tucked away and no one really knows about it. The influence I do get from Iran is usually towards my writing and future film projects. The environment I was brought up in and watching a bunch of Persian movies definitely influences my writing and film making more than my photography.
The Iranian culture is very sad. When you’re younger, you don’t really learn to love. The concept of love is so confusing and I’ve been struggling with that myself my whole life. It’s hard to find my place and where I belong, because we moved a lot during such a developing age. I’ve lived in Vancouver, Toronto, LA, New York, Tehran—I never really had a place to call home. When I visit Iran, it’s a different sense of belonging that I am still trying to understand.
Tell me about the name Zhamak The Cat. Where does that come from?
In Iran, everyone is obsessed with cats. Iran as a country on the map looks like a sitting cat even, and that’s why Persians all love cats! [Laughs] When I was born, there was a cat born in my house the same day. Zhamak the Cat specifically depicts how obsessed I was with this household pet. My friends all even compared me to a feline [Laughs].
When I was a teenager I was in a band, and we were called The Valley Cats. So, when Instagram came along in 2011 it only made sense for my handle—Zhamak the Cat.
Because you’ve document so many different types of artists, your Instagram is basically your collaborative portfolio. What’s your most stand-out memory or favorite photograph of an artist you’ve worked with?
When I saw Travis Scott and Metro Boomin’ in Vancouver four years ago, they had a New Year’s Eve party and it was at the smallest venue—super intimate. That was one of my favourite shows to shoot and to witness. He had his first mixtape out on Soundcloud and he was super low-key. Travis Scott was not the Travis Scott he is now. I still go back to those photos. It was super cool and I got a lot of great reactions from it. It definitely helped me out in the long run to connect me with other artists.
Anyone you wish to collaborate with in the future?
I would love to work with more women in the music industry. I love Beyonce, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, and the list goes on. I want to do more one on one shoots with them or life style stuff; following them everywhere they go to document it all.
Are you interested in publishing a zine soon?
I made a zine like three years ago, but I’m not that happy with it. I would love to put out a new zine soon that depicts my new work. Also, an ode to my ex’s!
Other than photography, are you interested in other mediums of art or documentary?
I also make music videos and I write a lot of treatments for different artists. A treatment is when a music label asks me to match the budget with a creative brief for an artist. I come up with ideas
to pitch a video to the artists and get a team together to match their budget and style. I also love to write. I write everyday, but I would love to write a script or a screenplay one day.
I have my first American solo photo exhibit in Brooklyn coming up. It should be around end of January or mid-February. I am super excited about it. It’s stressful and a completely different vibe for me but I am excited. I also have a photo show in LA with my best friend coming up during LA Photo Festival in February. Stay tuned!
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