A conversation with photography student Hajar Benjida known for her photographs of your favourite rappers.
At just 22 years of age, Netherlands-based photographer Hajar Benjida is quickly carving out a name for herself in the world of photography. Over the previous two years, Benjida has managed to snap various portraits and candids of dozens of the most popular hip-hop and grime artists that have come through Amsterdam.
Benjida shared with us a few of her experiences documenting the modern day rockstars, alongside a series of portraits of Joey Badass, Swae Lee, Playboi Carti, Skepta and Lil Yachty. Although she’s still studying and honing her craft, Benjida’s work is already quite distinct, with her imagery standing out due to the intimate nature and colorful palette. While her subjects are oft-photographed, Benjida seems to create an everlasting bond with the artists she shoots. “I think it might be my approach,” Benjida tells LYFSTYL. “Most of the time I’m a complete stranger to those people, yet they feel so comfortable in front of my lens.”
“When I met Carti, he told me to follow him around for the day, I really loved shooting him. He’s amazing in front of the camera,” recalls Benjida. Another high point was being in the studio with Migos. “I’ve always wondered what the recording process would be like. Culture was probably my most played album [last] year and ending up in the studio for the recording of Culture 2 was definitely a highlight of 2017.”
“I think my biggest accomplishment for myself is not letting my shyness get in the way when I really want something,” shes says. Getting backstage access is “a combination of patience, good timing and the way you approach these people,” Benjida explains. “It’s a different story with every artist, with some artists the vibe is better before the show, but most of them prefer to do photos after. I prefer going straight to the artist and avoiding the middle man, but with certain artists you have to go through the manager or crew first.”
Each photograph not only presents a different side of the musicians we know and love, they also aid in immortalizing each act in their prime, similarly to the photographs of Tupac, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse. Simply put, Benjida is documenting the culture, for the culture and at the very least, she concludes, “I can’t wait to show [my work to] my future kids.”