Intersecting fashion and photography, Miftha Bahardeen puts human emotion first
A cinephile from an early age, the Hamburg-based photographer is prone to analysing the details of an image. Here, he discusses his inspirations, processes and values.
- Jyni Ong
- 4 February 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Miftha Bahardeen’s photography revolves around human connection. He crafts stories inspired by universal emotions that we’re all familiar with, irregardless of culture or age. Ultimately, he tells us, “my aim is to capture real and honest expression”. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Miftha and his family moved to Germany when he was six, and he now lives in Hamburg. From an early age, he knew he was meant for a career in the arts and landed on fashion. But when his studies didn’t go to plan, photography became the goal – a pursuit he’d always dabbled in especially when traveling.
The real game changer came when Miftha visited a Sarah Moon exhibition in Hamburg which he describes as a “life changing moment”. There, he marvelled at the artist’s unique way of combining photography and fashion in harmony. Needless to say, it inspired the young Miftha a lot, and this, coupled with the easy accessibility of photography, spurred him to create. That was the beginning of Miftha’s work intersecting the realms of fashion, film and photography. It's led him to work with several fashion studios including Filling Pieces and Atelier Neutre, as well as being featured in a number of editorial publications too.
Now with an established practice under his belt, Miftha has developed a practice which centres on relationships. “The better I know my subjects, the better the communication between me and them will be during a shoot,” he tells us. Aesthetically, he draws much of his inspiration from film. From a young age, Miftha’s father helped him observe the detail in a scene. A self-professed “cinephile early on in life,” he took joy from well considered costume design and carefully formed characters. This in turn, helped the photographer develop an eye for detail which he now applies to all his work; seen in his delicate lighting, crisp portraits and beautiful foregrounds.
While the backdrops change from image to image, Miftha consistently puts his subjects centre stage as well as the emotion he hopes to convey. That is the real reoccurring pattern throughout his work, the humanity of each and every photograph. “The concepts I create are merely just the framework for the emotions and feelings to find purpose,” he adds. With a subtle artistic hand, the photographer leans into the everyday highs and lows of mundane life; feelings he then translates into his photography. It’s a helpful lesson which has helped him get through the pandemic thus far; as he is able to appreciate the fragility of life and what he has in it.
He talks us through two recent projects, the first being his latest work for Filling Pieces. Having worked on the last two campaigns, he recalls a fruitful working relationship with the brand’s designer Dieylane Cisse. “The beauty of these two projects were that they were very organic and went hand-in-hand with the theme of the collections,” Miftha explains. For the SS20 campaign, the designer explored “what family truly meant to him,” and in honour of this, the creative team embarked on a trip to his hometown in Senegal. Casting the campaign’s protagonists on the street, they developed a story around boyhood, coming of age, and “embracing every single step of it regardless how hard it may feel”. Miftha adds on the project: “Sometimes the bond between human beings is based on spirit and mutual beliefs rather than blood. For that we cast locals of all ages.”
In the AW20 campaign, on the other hand, the story of the campaign revolves around a number of individuals brought together by desire, longing and a spiritual bond. Harking to the campaign’s title “fifth element of spirit,” the project is memorable to Miftha because it was shot during the pandemic, as a result, making it more difficult to bring to life. Besides these difficulties, there were also plenty of highlights in creating the beautiful work. Working with local creatives such as Mohcine Harisse, Raina Male and Youssef Mascou, Younes Mascou and Youssef Hani; this latest project is similarly special for its mix of conceptual strength and technical interest.
As for the future, Miftha is keeping positive. While the pandemic has struck photographers particularly hard, Miftha is seeing the bright side of life. “For now it’s about keeping myself creatively stimulated and working on getting better at my craft and focusing on producing work which travels far. Hopefully the canvases I am allowed to paint on in the future will be bigger and for more eyes to see.”
GalleryMiftha Bahardeen (Copyright © Miftha Bahardeen, 2020)
Miftha Bahardeen (Copyright © Miftha Bahardeen, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.