About - Otiumpic

Trying to use a digital camera like it was an analog one

19.05.2018


In 2013 I bough a compact camera and started to photograph things I liked: moss, cats in the streets, Parisian buildings, etc. I enjoyed it a lot. One day while I was in Algiers visiting my parents, I went to a beautiful mountain, on the top of that mountain I took a photograph of the seascape below, it was a very special moment, I told to my self "This is what I want to do: photography. This is what I want to be: a photographer."

Since then I dedicate my time, thoughts and energy to create beautiful images.


I bough my first DSLR in 2014, my previous camera lacked manual mode and I love using it since. I hope to afford a Leica very soon, with a fixed 28mm lens. The DSLR is too heavy and big (I have some issues with motor skills due to autism so I can't use it too often. I use this Nikon DSLR with a 35mm lens. Most of my photos are not retouched I prefer to spend more time behind the camera setting up its parameters, studying the scene, light, frame and the point of view than sitting in front of a computer screen trying to embellish a picture more or less failed with ‘Photothing’ and ‘Lightstuff’. I want to focus on quality rather than quantity using my digital camera like it was an analog one, putting a lot of thoughts and efforts to make the perfect image by clicking the shutter. I work in black and white because it is relaxing to my eyes and my brain.


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I am autistic. Self diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome since 2015. Officially diagnosed on January 2017.


One morning, three years ago, I had enough breaking down every time a noise made me feel like its vibrations were killing me inside, enough feeling so different from every human being I ever met, enough of feeling anxious 99% of the time, and so on.


That very morning 2015, I felt deep despair not knowing why I couldn’t find or keep a job. The research I made on a Web search engine was with theses words: Light autism. In few seconds (or minutes) I found something named Asperger Syndrome. I recognised myself in every single definition of it. I soon filled some questionnaires made by professionals of autism.


Within a hour I was sure, no single doubt about the fact that I had Asperger Syndrome. I discovered who I was and why I feel, think, behave, talk, move and breath the way I do since I came to this noisy world: I am autistic.


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I was born in Algeria in 1982, in a city by the Mediterranean sea named Skikda (about 500km from Algiers). My father is Algerian, my mother too but with French roots (her father was half French). Therefor, my first language was the Algerian dialect mixed with a lot of French words and phrases.


I learned to read French when I was about 3 years old. When I was about 5, I came to France with my mother, we stayed one week visiting family members between Paris and Versailles. I learned to talk exclusive French with complex and correct phrases before the end of that week. From our stay here I remember vividly a blue ice cream, Legos in big stores and a glass of red wine.


Back in Algeria, French was my own main language, my thoughts was in French and I dreamed in French.


At school I learned Arabic. Then English. Finally some Germain. Since a couple of years I’m in love with Russian, I find Cyrillic alphabet fascinating and how the language sounds filles me with enthusiasm.


At 11, while doing some school homework, I began to make rimes in my French redaction. It was highly enjoyable. I felt in love with poetry, I wrote everyday during many years.

At 12, I discovered Charles Baudelaire and it’s Fleurs du Mal. For the first time in my life I could relate to someone else’s feelings. I read that book many, many, many times. Baudelaire leaded me to Edgar Poe’s novels and poetry. I felt close to Alfred de Vigny, Flaubert, Lamartine, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Balzac, Corneille, Molière, Racine. These were my friends during many years. I was almost always alone but rarely lonely.


Photography all this time were in my head: seeing deeply, often absorbed in visual details, focused on a particular light in a particular angle, I had no camera, I had no physical trace of all these wonderful scenes.


The first time I used a camera was when I was about 18 years old. My father bought a used Panasonic camera and I started photographing clouds and lightnings. I enjoyed it a lot but didn’t show any of my poetry or my photography, didn’t even think about doing so. Except when I asked for reviews of my writing from my favorite teachers through my school years.


After hight school, the baccalaureate in hand, I integrated a university to study French Literature in Algiers. I studied two years instead of three (could had my diploma on the third year). I left at the end of the second year as too many negative changes occurred: strikes, excellent teachers replaced by ignorant beginners, political problems I didn’t neither understand nor care about.


I continued to learn by my own, in my room, I read books I have chosen, I talked about my interests with very few people.


I have yet decided to come to France to study in the same field. It stroke me how logical it was to come in France to study French literature. So I came here on a 31 Decembre 2004. After 22 years living in Algiers I moved to Paris. I loved it the first 10 minutes of walking around the streets. I loved less, a lost less, the temperature… Until this day I struggle with the weather of this part of the planet, low dark clouds most part of the year, low temperatures most part of the year.


I enrolled at two renowned universities in Paris, Sorbonne and Jussieu. The two accepted my application but I choose not to pursue. Thinking of all the books that I wouldn’t read because they’re not in the program or because I wouldn’t have the time to read them. I also didn’t want to understand a book from another person’s point view. I wanted to be completely free to read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and understand things my own way. I had some state financial aid to buy food and books.


I also did some jobs between 2005 and 2010: juice seller in different supermarkets, phone seller, telemarketer. Then I did few months training in website creation (HTML & CSS) it leaded me to create a personal website where I posted my reviews of some books and some of my poetry and prose, as well as some photographs I made while walking in Paris (hours and hours of walking almost everyday). Then I created few other websites.


I loved coding. I coded in my mind what I saw with my eyes in the Parisian streets, it was a lot of concentration and fun to make websites. But I failed to make a living from it. Lacking every aspect of the social stuff, also I couldn’t promote my work due to social anxiety.

After the "coding period" I had the opportunity to work in an office for three months. It was a nightmare. I was exhausted every minute of every hour of every single day, the week-ends weren't enough to have some rest, my brain was about to explode. I enjoyed getting paid but the efforts I made were about to ruin my health. At the end of the three months my manager told me that despite my excellent work I lacked social interaction with my colleagues during the breaks, and that I never had lunch with them. I thought to myself: "Well, yeah, they are colleagues not friends nor family members, I was here to do my job not to socialise.". What a strange world we live in.


Meriem Tellache

P.S. Want to learn about "otium"? Here is a book in French about the word: Recherches sur l'Otium Romain, Jean-Marie André, 1962.

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