Some artists can worry that they haven’t got enough of a theoretical grounding in their medium, making it difficult for them to progress or feel accepted. Fashion photographer Dudi Hasson, on the other hand, feels that his lack of traditional teaching actually allows him to be better.
“As someone who never studied photography and is not a scholar, I find that this ‘bliss of ignorance’ allows for a greater degree of freedom, as I’m not paralysed by the burden of history,” he says. “Maybe it’s about cultivating an attitude of obliviousness or failing to accept the invention of the wheel. I must believe that there still exists an uncharted territory, waiting to be found, otherwise what’s the point? Why bother?”
Dudi isn’t someone who just fell into photography having done something else. In actual fact he has pursued it since he was a child, choosing to learn on the job instead of going to university. “I got into photography through working as an assistant for other photographers. Photography was one of those things I knew I wanted to pursue since I was a teenager. So, for me, it is a part of my identity, of who I am,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I’m not a ‘waiting to be kissed by the muses’ kind of guy, it’s what I do daily.”
The Israeli photographer speaks very eloquently about his philosophy towards his work, and also what particularly excites him about working on fashion shoots. “I think that my excitement reaches a peak on location, when photography itself becomes an event taking place in real-time and space,” he says. The unpredictability of what happens once everyone is on set and in place is also something that draws Dudi into this line of work. “This act of looking at my subjects through a lens and trying to capture a certain je ne sais quoi about them, something that transcends language, rational planning or taste, is very moving for me. Zooming in on the actual time spent on a set, what really excites me are those precious incidents I could never predict or control, sudden instances of the unexpected that cannot be premeditated.”
Dudi’s style is not an overly manufactured one, in many cases leaning more towards a documentary aesthetic than a staged shoot. One reason for this is that he tries to adapt his work to its location, rather than the other way around. “My work has a strong sense of site specificity where the genius loci of a chosen place plays a crucial role, a character, in generating my artistic decisions and is never just a backdrop for predetermined ideas.” Another explanation for this more laissez-faire aesthetic is that Dudi enjoys seeing how things work organically, which will often lead images down a more documentary-style path: “I’m more interested in the accidental, the chance, the unplanned; an instant that can scratch the surface of the quotidian, the everyday, the banal.”
Although there are certain aspects that endure throughout his work, Dudi tries to avoid a signature visual language, purely for the reason that he is “afraid to get stuck in a rut.” Instead, he employs “temporary self-induced amnesia,” which enables him to keep things fresh and ensure that he remains engaged with what he is doing.
Hearing how eloquent Dudi is when reflecting, it is no surprise that he is very self-aware of the impact that photography can have, both good and bad. Whether working on his project with refugees, or his portraits of a boy named Shay that he met rapping in a bar, he understands that images have consequences and that this must be considered when embarking on a project. “These images evidently engage with representations of ‘otherness’ but I think it’s less interesting to talk about. When you depict people on the margins or as social outcasts, it becomes tautological,” he says. “So I am always conscious about the danger of exoticising and romanticising ‘otherness’.”
As well as his aversion to repetitiveness, this awareness and avoidance of cliches helps Dudi’s portfolio to maintain its diversity, without becoming disparate. “I think that my work has a sense of recognisability, a detectable sensibility,” he says. “I know what I love and what inspires me.”
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.