Half Korean Half Egyptian, born in Queens, New York now based in Alexandria –Egypt, Abdel Rahman Gabr-(Koree) is a Filmmaker and a Photographer. He captures inspiring and engaging stories and creative insights, working across a broad range of media, generating original creative insights and executions in TV Ads, Photography, and Advertising. Founder of Qube Productions & Koree Films, he grew up in a fascinating cultural melting pot consisting primarily of Korean and Egyptian families, so he was certainly no stranger to the joys and challenges of cultural diversity. After 13 years in the U.S. his family moved to Alexandria, Egypt, another city noted for accommodating diverse nationalities and religions but with a distinctly Mediterranean flavour. After finishing high school, he went on to study Computer Engineering but never went to the field.
Abdelrahman Gabr documents the people and places in Egypt with a profound lens, purveying a certain magic in every shot, inspiring wide-eyed patriotism for this chaotic, ancient civilisation. He captures the spirit of specific Egyptian cities through an incredibly cinematic visual rhetoric. His portfolio acts as a beautiful time capsule that blends historic culture with modern day living, almost becoming the ultimate tourism propaganda for Egypt.
You’ve live in very diverse cities and neighborhoods, including Queens in NY and Alexandria in Egypt. How do you find these cities to inspire your work and photography?
I think in my case having a multicultural background with both the Far East, the West and the Middle East in your upbringing makes you look at the world from a different angle, accepting everything and everyone which is different. Also growing up somewhere and just hearing stories about your homeland is a totally different experiences than being born there. Once you arrive you see things totally different than people who live there and take day-to-day life for granted. I think this is what set me apart from other Egyptians I know as it made me more perceptive to how special Egypt is and how unique its people are and same thing goes to photography point of view.
You mention your influence of film and movies in your work, hence the cinematic feel your images have. What type of process do you have when creating these images?
There is not much of process as trying to get everything right in camera such as lighting the subject perfectly, All these photos are directly from camera, very slight adjustments in post production, same thing goes to my videos.
Please talk about the use of the Leica S, its performance and versatility when compared to other similar camera bodies.
As you can see I am traveling to many remote locations around Egypt which there will be tough roads, hiking and taking pictures in the middle of the desert. So the Leica S is a perfect medium format camera for my travels. It’s robust, compact, and weather sealed, you can move anywhere with it easily and of course not to mention its astonishing image quality.
Why did you select the Leica S for your work?
It’s a camera that you really trust, and thats something really important as Photographer or a film maker. Looking through my pictures after shooting, seeing the details of the skin of the subjects on my screen is just beautiful. The Leica S have amazing color tones and clarity which makes you more excited to go out there and take photos, could not ask for more.
What characteristics do you find the most compelling in the Egyptian culture you document? For instance, the image of the man holding the alligator – is this common?
The common characteristics I find in people that I photographed, is that they have indomitable strength, intensity, and kindness. They go through really tough situations just to earn a decent living, and when you meet them, they are the most generous people you can meet.
Most them are, that’s the interesting part that Egypt has its diversity of tribes and culture, for the picture with the alligator is to be astonishingly natural. All I told him was to hold the alligator for a camera shot and I was amazed at how he just stood up naturally posing for the camera in such a manner as if he has been doing it his entire life. I believe anyone who sees this image can sense the companionship between the man and his dangerous pet.
What type of lighting do you use when shooting these images?
My equipment is pretty outdated. Well, I am using a Profoto Pro B3 1200 AirS power pack and thats the main and only light source with a ProHead plus. And I’m using are 2 modifiers: the Elinchrom 39” Rotalux Deep Octabank and the Rotalux Softbox Elinchrom Octabank 75”.
What do you want to convey through these images for viewers to understand or learn about Egypt?
I want to cover all Egyptian tradition. All I want to accomplish with this work is to show people the Egypt I love and its amazing people so they will fall in love with it the way I have. Having something online that reaches millions of people is the main idea of the project; however, I still believe in the authenticity of holding a book in your hand and owning a piece of history.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers to know? Are there any other projects you might be working on?
Well this Photo series is a book project, Hopefully it will get published by early next year, and if it goes well I will be going to do a “Faces of Morocco” and “Faces of Lebanon “, and I just got back from Norway using the SL mirrorless camera and I got amazing images out of it, and I am planning to back again in the summer.
To know more about Koree’s work, please visit his official website.