Get to know @Aarafxadam, the creative on the horizon 

Aaraf Adam is a creative director and writer working on projects that platform and celebrate black Muslim women in all their diversity. One of her most recent projects is ‘The beauty in being.’ This photo series captures Muslim men and women dwelling together in natural environments. As she said, “friendship comes in all facets of life…this shoot is a celebration of Black and Muslim joy”.

Notably, this photo series focuses on the less grand interactions between friends. Her photos capture friends laughing together or even looking at one another. This was purposeful, Aaraf mentioned. She emphasized that “there is beauty in simplicity and just being.” She did not feel the need to “explicitly make it a religious or cultural shoot.”

This is a running thread throughout her work too. She enjoys crafting projects with a dual nature: the projects feel symbolic – as though they carry a broader message – and yet they also feel very literal. In this case, her shoot might convey the beauty of friendship between Muslim men and women. Or, it may just be a group of friends in a park.

Nonetheless, the intersection of the Muslim identity and friendship makes Aaraf’s photo series stand out. Aaraf captures both hijabi and non-hijabi Muslim women in her celebration of individuality; this was not coincidental. This is part of her overarching aim to depict the realness and variety within Islam. Some of her models wore hijabs, others did not, yet they are all proud to claim they are Muslim.

GUAP: What are your thoughts about physical appearance and its connection as a metric for religiosity?

Aaraf: Some non-hijabi women may be more religious than some hijabi women.

GUAP: What inspires you to create the way you do?

Aaraf: Ultimately, I want to do my part to see Black Muslim women win by any means necessary.

The beauty in diversity and community was visible not just in front of the camera but also behind it. The photographer of the project was a white man, @Raphgaultier. Aaraf mentioned that the gender of her photographers was significant as she likes her projects to be shot by men. “Men should be helping to support and amplify black women.” 

Even beyond the photographer, the casting of the models tells a tale of friendship and community. Two of her female models were recent friends of hers. They had met and, with several introspective conversations, bonded quickly. After this, she asked them to join her “labor of love” project. 

With an emphasis on community and identity, Aaraf uses this series to tell the stories close to her with the people close to her.

Photography Credits:

Creative Direction/ Styling: Aaraf Adam

Photography: Raphaël Gaultier

Models: Ajradico, Tasneem Zarroug, Aaraf Adam

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Zoe Olawore