1.Who is Photo Boutique?
Shahira: Photo Boutique is a photography studio owned and operated by Nazly Abou Seif and myself, Shahira Zaki. We were inspired by the iconic photography studios of 1920s Cairo such as Armand and many others while wanting to combine it with a contemporary knowledge of trends and the creative fields in general. Evolving from the practice of simple portraiture used during that time, the whole idea behind Photo Boutique was to create a place buzzing with interdisciplinary creative energy where everyone can have some fun. And so I capture and edit the images, Nazly films and edits fashion films and behind the scenes videos and we collaborate with our amazing makeup artist, Soraya Shawky.
2.Who is it for?
Nazly: Everyone! We have mainly three lines of business one is dedicated to individuals… looking to add some glamour and fun to their lives for a day, families wanting frame-worthy pictures or models who want to create an impressive portfolio.
Our second line is dedicated to corporate branding and events including lookbooks, editorials, and key events.
And finally, Photo BOOTHique, our latest addition.
3.What’s Photo BOOTHique?
Nazly: It’s basically a mobile photo booth we’ve created for parties and special events. It also comes with costumes and fun accessories depending on the theme we set.
4. How does a photo shoot work?
Shahira: It all starts with the concept behind the shoot. We brainstorm until we all come up with a concept together and build the set accordingly. Photo Boutique has a comprehensive approach; which means we handle all production (make-up & hair, styling etc.…) and post-production (editing & retouching) pertaining to the shoot.
End result of one of their fabulous shoots
5.How did you girls end up partnering together? What are your past experiences that lead you to this?
Nazly: We have passions in different disciplines. Shahira has a passion for Photography while I have always loved Interior design. Once we graduated, we were both set on being entrepreneurs and doing our own thing. We travelled to London together and each did a course in our chosen discipline. We’ve been best friends since forever and once we got back, it just made sense to do something that combines both our skills. Photo Boutique just came about very naturally.
6.We notice that most directions the team takes is usually unlike the generic ads & shots we see in Egypt; how are you guys choosing to break away from the mundane and change the Egyptian’s mindset?
Nazly: We don’t really think about it in those terms. We just try to have some fun with every project and hopefully bring something new to the market. Like anywhere else in the world, generic ads for generic brands is what constitutes the majority of the market. Thankfully, there is a growing number of local brands and even global ones that are bolder and are willing to do something a little different.
7.Who and where do you guys get your inspiration from? Where do you get the materials of the shoot from?
Shahira: It depends. Every project is different but it always starts with the client’s needs, which we establish during our first meeting.
As for the materials and props for the shoot… we get them from literarily everywhere! We’ve built a substantial wardrobe of accessories, props and sets since we’ve started so that helps too.
8.Who’s your favorite photographer?
Shahira: Annie Leibovitz , Nick Knight , SølveSundsbø & Lara Jade
9.So how do you guys divide your roles, who’s all business and who’s all creative?
Shahira: We’re both a lot more creative than we are business-oriented, so we definitely hit a few bumps! But we’ve also learned a lot and have been trying to reach the stage where we are able to balance both.
10. Do you have plans to expand beyond Egypt?
Nazly: Yes, definitely! We think the concept behind Photo Boutique is pretty universal and can be successful anywhere. But right now we‘re focusing on building Photo Boutique on solid foundations here before we can seriously consider expanding.
11. So wedding seasons coming up… what services do you offer for people tying the knot?
Everything! We have a lot of different groups of girlfriends that come over for bachelorette pictures before they go out. Sometimes it’s organized by the bride but most of the time it’s her best friends that surprise her with the whole shoot. We also have a lot of couples that come in because they want cool pictures for their formal wedding invitations, Facebook wedding group or wedding website. We talk with them so we can get to know their styles and personalities and come up with different themes and ideas.
And finally, Photo BOOTHique (It’s such a fun experience for the guests and leaves the newlyweds with pictures that are a lot more fun and natural than the standard wedding pictures, which tend to be a lot more formal.)