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The Questionnaire : Rami Mekdachi by Carole Schmitz


Rami Mekdachi: Window on Elsewhere

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Rami Mekdachi grew up in France, in Paris to be precise.

Curious about everything, creative and multi-talented, he is by turns a photographer, musician, film director and founder of the global art project Lola James Harper, each medium capturing his unique perspective on life and human connection.

Rami Mekdachi is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer, basketball enthusiast and music lover… His first feature film WITH, about a quest for peace, unity, simple joy and presence, was awarded Best Documentary at the Golden State Film Festival in Hollywood and the Open World Film Festival in Toronto, Best Director at the Nice IFF, Best Original Score at the Queen Palm Springs IFF, and nominated for Best Cinematography at the London IFF…

Over the years, he has lived first in Lancaster, England, then in the San Juan Islands and Seattle, Washington. He spent 15 years traveling with his family, recording music, filming their musical sessions, meetings, discussions and road-trips.

His latest cinematic journey, “HOOPTIME”, distills a decade of exhilarating travels, conversations and games into a moving narrative, complemented by a previously unreleased original soundtrack. It’s Rami’s heartfelt ode to street basketball – celebrating it not just as a sport, but as an art form and a bridge to the world.

In other news, from January 18th to February 18th, 2024, Rami Mekdachi exhibits “PACIFIQUE” at MERCI*. A celebration of the American West Coast, a region rich in energy and creativity. An immersive road trip in search of music, friendship and adventure along the Pacific coast. 50 exclusive prints by Lola James Harper, accompanied by screenings of Rami Mekdachi’s award-winning film ‘WITH’.

*111 boulevard Beaumardchais 75011 PARIS


Instagram : @merci paris

Instagram : @ramimekdachi / @lolajamesharper


What was your first photographic trigger?
Rami Mekdachi: I was born in Beirut in the 70s, the war broke out and overnight we left Lebanon to settle in Paris. Photography is one of the magical links that connects me to this lost paradise… For me, photography is a window opening onto a dreamed-of, desired, past or lost elsewhere.

The man or woman in the picture who inspires you?
Rami Mekdachi: Stephen Shore, Saul Leiter, Tom Arndt for their incredible poetic interpretation of the American Dream… Jamel Shabazz for his presence at the birth of the Hip Hop movement in the 80s… Charles Peterson for his presence at the birth of the Grunge movement in Seattle in the 90s… Hugh Holland for his presence at the birth of skateboard culture in California in the 70s…

What image would you like to have made?
Rami Mekdachi: I’ve got too many in mind…

A key image in your personal pantheon?
Rami Mekdachi: An image of my wife, son, daughter and I, on our first 2-month road-trip in the USA between Seattle and Los Angeles.

A photographic memory of your childhood?
Rami Mekdachi: Me and my mother in Beirut on the family balcony.

In your opinion, what’s the most important quality needed to be a good photographer?
Rami Mekdachi: To know how to be present and attentive to what’s around you, and to want to share that moment with others, adding a little something of your own.

What, if any, is the secret to the perfect image?
Rami Mekdachi: Perfection is so subjective that the secret lies in knowing how to define the perfect image for yourself.

Who would you like to photograph?
Rami Mekdachi: Jimi Hendrix.

Is there an essential photo book?
Rami Mekdachi: For me, there are several: Stephen Shore’s “Uncommon Places”, Saul Leiter’s “The Unseen Saul Leiter”, Tom Arndt’s “Reflections of America”, Charles Peterson’s “Seattle Grunge”, Jamel Shabazz’s “Back in the Days” and Hugh Holland’s “Locals Only”.

What was your childhood camera?
Rami Mekdachi: A Kodak instamatic.

The one you use today?
Rami Mekdachi: A Sony @7III and a Canon R5.

Your favorite drug?
Rami Mekdachi: Coffee and meetings.

The best way for you to disconnect?
Rami Mekdachi: Going to a street basketball game with the neighborhood kids…

What is your relationship with images?
Rami Mekdachi: Very good… we get on quite well, thank you…

What’s your best quality?
Rami Mekdachi: I’m a good listener and a good questioner…

An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Rami Mekdachi: A birch bark…

What’s the difference between photography and art photography?
Rami Mekdachi: The level of inspiration it offers.

What city, country or culture do you dream of discovering?
Rami Mekdachi: I dream of rediscovering Lebanon, my country of origin.

The place you never tire of?
Rami Mekdachi: Where my family is.

In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat, and why?
Rami Mekdachi: Instagram because the foundation of this network is based on beautiful images.

Color or B&W?
Rami Mekdachi: Color and B&W.

Daylight or artificial light?
Rami Mekdachi: Daylight!!! because I like to play with what’s offered to me… interact with what’s offered considering that it’s always an opportunity to be used… improvisation at all costs. It’s certainly a character trait I’ve developed to counteract my natural “control freak” side (laughs).

Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
Rami Mekdachi: Any city under the sun, with its shadows and reflections, its contrasts and reliefs. Light always creates surprises and amazing angles.

If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Rami Mekdachi: Neither… I’d try to take a photo of him at work…

If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
Rami Mekdachi: My family and friends.

Which image do you think represents the current state of the world?
Rami Mekdachi: A human being with wings on his back and lead in his feet.

What’s missing in today’s world?
Rami Mekdachi: A little carefree spirit.

If you had to start all over again?
Rami Mekdachi: I’d do it all over again.

Any final words?
Rami Mekdachi : Always leave room for dreams.

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