What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Ananeya Abebe. During the day I work at a large financial institution. My role consists of helping the organization minimize risk by advising stakeholders on how to effectively managing their data. During the night, weekend, and just about any other time that I am not at my day job, I am a street, portrait, and event photographer.
Where are you from and how has being there affected your creativity?
I was originally born in Ethiopia but grew up in Alexandria, VA. The diversity in Alexandria allowed me to grow up with people that were different. I was exposed to different cultures, traditions, and customs than the one I had been accustomed to. This type of an upbringing gave me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. It gave me an appetite for experiencing new things and welcoming different perspectives. Ultimately it influenced how I capture people, places, and things as a photographer.
Explain what initially got you into shooting?
I initially got into shooting when I had quite a bit of free time after work. I was working in Washington, DC at that time and would take photos with my iPhone during my commute. This evolved into the beginning of my street photography and the evolution of my skills from my iPhone to a DSLR.
What things do you look at or watch for inspiration?
There are multiple sources for my inspiration. When I am focusing on my street photography, I tend to look at some of the works of the pioneers of street photography such as Gordon Parks, Bill Cunningham, or Henri-Cartier Bresson. I also look at documentaries that go behind some of these renowned photographers to understand their thought process behind their work.
When I am doing portraiture, I tend to look at magazines such as Aperture Magazine.
Social media provides a tremendous platform to gain inspiration and ignite some creativity. Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube have been key platforms that have allowed me to stretch my creativity.
What is a quote or motto that you live by?
“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.”
What camera setup do you currently use (camera, lens, other accessories, etc)?
I am 100% committed to the Fujifilm mirrorless wave. There’s something about their design, performance, and quality that completely aligns with who I am as a photographer.
I mainly use my Fujifilm XT-2 for portraits, events, and travel photography
I use my Fujifilm XE-3 mainly for my street photography and as a secondary camera
FUJINON XF35mmF2 R WR
FUJINON LENS XF56mmF1.2 R
FUJINON LENS XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
FUJINON LENS XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Godox XT1 Wireless Flash Trigger
What do you specialize in or what do you enjoy shooting the most and why?
I specialize in street photography and portraiture. These two allow me to tell stories through the composition of the images and continue to force my eyes to evolve and see people, places, and things in a new creative way.
Since we believe that music is the center around all things creative, what are your top 3 music albums, and what about those albums that gets you in a creative zone?
A Tribe Called Quest – The Low-End Theory: The dope lyrics and the mellow beats reminds me of a time when hip-hop was about creativity and less about money.
Sade – Love Deluxe: Sade’s famously jazz-influenced sounds have always been a catalyst for my creativity. I am listening to one of her albums the majority of the time that I am working on a creative project.
Ethiopiques, Vol. 4. Ethio Jazz: 1969-1974: Ethiopian Jazz is something that is out of this world. It is raw but profound. The sound of every instrument seems to carry the weight of Ethiopia’s history, tradition, and legacy. You definitely feel it and you definitely can’t ignore it. Certainly, the right vibes to inspire emotionally-charged photos.
Who are some shooters that you follow and what do you admire about their work?
The late Gordon Parks is definitely someone that I have admired for quite some time. His street photography over the decades has captured society in their best and worst time. His work evokes emotional connections with whoever lays eyes upon his work. He has essentially captured America’s history from WWII through the Civil Rights Movement.
Jamel Shabazz – He captured the genesis of hip-hop in NYC. His street photography was instrumental in influencing streetwear during the late 80s and early 90s. He gave the rest of the world a window into what is now mainstream fashion.
What is one tangible piece of advice that you would give somebody who has just started shooting? (besides shooting more)
A camera is just a tool that allows an artist to express themselves. Be willing to take the time to understand the science, and the art, of photography.
Random Question: Last great movie that you remember watching and why was it so great?
Avengers: Infinity War. I consider myself a big Marvel fan and to finally see the Avengers face Thanos was everything I had expected it to be. I am kinda upset that the Black Panther died; But hey, the story isn’t over yet.
What is next for you?
I am working on putting together my first photobook. The photobook will contain my street photography captured through my travels in Morocco, Cuba, and Peru over the past three years.