About - Otiumpic

Photography Through an Autistic Mind

OTIUMPIC.COM

02.07.2018


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.

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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.

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Otium

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. 

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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.

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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.