We have a quick sit-down on life as a photographer for some of the worlds most creative brands. You may also recognise her by her brand handle @WWAGS on Instagram!
Halima is a London based fashion photographer who founded WWAGS back in 2010. She’s since been changing the game by propelling brands into the limelight across the globe and has had a part to play in some of the most talked about Muslim brands making a name for themselves in the mainstream.
As a Muslim woman, we wanted to understand what some of the highs and lows of navigating her creative profession have looked like to her, and what impact, if at all, an emerging, fast-paced and capitalistic Muslim lifestyle scene has had on her…
Salaam Halima! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few of our questions for readers who may be interested in your creative field.
WWAGS: This is something that I personally do not aspire to. It is very apparent today, that a growing number of Muslim women want a piece of fame. We want our faces everywhere to prove that we are indeed liberated..but I’m still wondering how we’re proving that, just by being on the cover of a magazine.
I loved British Vogue’s cover, showcasing women in all of our different shapes, sizes and ethnicities, and I did love seeing Halima Aden on the cover.
However, Halima has always been so effortless in her line of work. She’s not pushed herself in, and has grown organically. I think she looks amazing.
The “first hijabi” tagline for me is unnecessary and desperate call for attention. We, high-achieving Muslim women (hijab or non-hijabi) have always been around. Why are we suddenly racing each other to claim the ‘first-hijab’ medal?
WWAGS: It does not bother me if they use Muslim models or not. A model is a model!
If we look at some of the images in Vogue Magazine during the 40’s and 50’s, and more specifically the covers from these decades, you can see how frequently they used head covering/hair wraps in their fashion campaigns. One brand I remember seeing in particular is Balmain, I believe it was an image from the 50’s of a model in a pantsuit and head covering…
What’s more, the Hijab is not exclusive to Muslims. In the bible, God says:
1 Corinthians 11. (King James Version):
“5. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven . 6. For if the woman be not covered , let her also be shorn : but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven , let her be covered.”
This is just once example among a variety of others that have grounds in other religious traditions. As an ummah (community), we have been able to hold onto the head covering, hopefully acknowledging that it is spiritual aspect and one that has intention behind it. It’s not just a cloth we desperately need everyone’s approval of.
WWAGS: The visual industry is evolving very quickly, over the past two years especially, with the vast amount of technology being introduced, and iPhones becoming more savvy with photography.
You have depth of field now on these devices which is something we had to really master using cameras, finding the right lens and the right light!
I guess I keep up with so much visual content that if and when I find something interesting and new to learn, I research and practice! Best way! It’s how I’ve gotten to where I am in my work.
WWAGS: I loved working on the Nafsi series! We haven’t actually done it again for a long time because of work and scheduling, but it’s something that we still want to carry on with as it served a purpose. We created a visual story about the things we suffer from as a result of our own weaknesses, desires, vanity or obsessions.
WWAGS: Not sure. Don’t have the answer to that yet! It’s a battle within myself I have most of the time.
WWAGS: Everything I think. I could be wrong but I feel like I’m the same person with somewhat the same thought process.
WWAGS: I have, many times in fact.
Sometimes because I see the state that we are in, sometimes because of the state I am in!
So, if you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
WWAGS: I’d be the ‘first hijabi’ To create a cat farm. Haha
WWAGS: Prayer and going to the gym, this is for myself.
Nothing beats being 5 mins away from people in prayer, and nothing beats a good session at the gym to think over the day and then get over it!!
WWAGS: Instagram is used for business.
I have random outbursts about different topics but I think it’s more or less to do with the industry in itself as opposed to anything else.
I have a personal Instagram (which I had to just double check so I could see my last login time -November 2017!)
Honestly, outside of business, social media does not play any role in my personal life. I do not care to take unlimited images of myself to post for no reason.
@WWAGSJournal was created for the sake of separating the fashion industry from my other passions, books and Islamic studies.
It’s a space for learning for myself and sharing books, and my journey of trying to balance. As you can see, because it has so much to do with myself, I’m finding it hard to keep it updated as it’s been so personal to me for ten years, trying to document it on social media is not the easiest thing for me. Time and balance I guess.
I think I will disable the @WWAGSJournal Instagram and merge it into one account, as managing all these accounts is too time consuming!
WWAGS: I post my work and that’s about it.
I like scrolling through posts of other creatives to see what trends are being forecasted or other general inspiration. Social media can be good and it can be bad.
I can see how much it has a psychological effect on so many people, but in some words I live by, “get over it”.