About - Otiumpic

Photography Through an Autistic Mind



I want to do photography. I want to be a photographer.

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 imagery.

I bough my first DSLR camera (Nikon D7100) in 2014, my previous camera lacked manual mode. Lately I bought a Fujifilm X100F. The DSLR was too heavy and big (I have some issues with motor skills due to autism so I can't use it too often). 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 most appropriate 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 love working in black and white because it is relaxing to my eyes and my brain, that's why you'll see more black and white photographs on my website.

I was born in Algeria in 1982, in a city by the Mediterranean sea that is about 500km far from Algiers. My father is Algerian, my mother too but with French roots (her father was half French). And I have the best brother ever.

I mainly think in pictures (due to my autistic brain I guess) so photography were always in my head: seeing deeply, often absorbed in visual details, focused on a particular light in a particular angle, I had no camera, I have no physical trace of all these wonderful scenes but I can recall every detail in my brain.

The first time I used a camera was when I was about 18 years old. My father bought a used Panasonic compact camera and I started photographing clouds and lightnings from our balcony on 9th floor of the building we used to live in.


From Algeria to France

After 22 years living in the suburbs of Algiers I moved to Paris on a 31 December 2004. I loved this city 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.



Few months after moving in, 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 (sometimes books instead of food) and a priceless support of my parents as well as other family members who live in Paris (aunts, uncles and cousins). I think that my lack of social skills was a big part of my decision to not pursue studies, I would have to use public transports nearly everyday, sitting in a room full of people, sounds and lights, speaking to other students and teachers, no thanks.

I practice and feel photography the way I 'practiced' literature, learning by myself whatever I want, whenever I want. I recently read Bruce Barnbaum's book "The Essence of Photography" and I started to read his other book "The Art of Photography". Precious books here. I learned a lot, I am pretty sure that these books are at least as precious as studying in any art school. I actually think that they are way more precious. 


Otium & Photography Through an Autistic Mind

Since my diagnosis three years ago (self diagnosed as having Asperger's syndrome since 2015 and officially diagnosed on January 2017), I feel way more confident than I used to few years ago. Not knowing why I was so different from every person I met leaded me to a burnout which leaded me to seek for answers I found the Internet first, then with the help of a great specialist of autism.


Ready to make negotium with my otium (as long as it comes cum dignitate).

I am ready to finally embrace a field in all it's aspects, including promotion witch is not natural for me at all. My enthusiasm is at it's highest point when I make photographs and promoting it is becoming an enjoyable journey too. Maybe success would be closer if I were not autistic but I would not see, hear, feel and communicate the way I do, in other words: without autism there would be no me. 

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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