Where did you shoot this series?
It was in the west Bekaa Valley, around two hours from Beirut. I don’t remember exactly which town we went to that day, but it was close to Al Mansoura, which is where I was born. I moved to Beirut when I was about two months old because of the civil war. But I kept going back to the Bekaa from time to time, just to see my relatives. In fact, I still have family there. The hunters are from my village – some are relatives.
Is hunting a big part of Lebanon’s outdoor life?
Maybe Beirutis don’t like hunting so much, but they love it out in the countryside. Usually the hunting season lasts just two months, but the gang I went with go three or four times a week. They’re fanatics, it’s their life. They take it very seriously. When they arrived at the location, they scouted around and dispersed. One said, ‘You go there, you go there, I’ll go here. Yallah, let’s go hunt.’ They don’t talk, they turn their cell phones off, they don’t hit every bird they see. They’re very patient, almost professional. When it’s over – around 2pm – they get back together, have food and barbecue the birds.
Was it the first time you’ve been hunting?
No, I used to hunt with my brother before he moved to Canada. He used to be a fanatic, too. He loved hunting. Every time he went, I used to wake up early and we would just take off to whatever place in his car.
What do you normally do to escape Beirut?
I love to drive, just drive around the mountains of Lebanon.
What was the landscape like out in the West Bekaa while you were shooting?
The scenery was very dreamy, in a way. There was a lot of fog but the light was perfect, especially between 5am and 6am. It looks very calm. I feel more relaxed and happier out there. It’s a simple life – the people are generous and the weather is perfect. There are no complications or stress, like in Beirut.
And the wildlife?
Well, they shoot ravens. But there’s also pigeons, though a different type to the ones we know. It’s called an earth pigeon. They don’t fly so much, they just keep jumping around.
What did you enjoy most about the trip?
Well, a hunter gave me his shotgun and I tried some shots but, of course, I couldn’t hit anything. I keep telling myself that I have to go back again. To just hang out and photograph. I loved the experience. Even waking up in the morning wasn’t that bad – 5am is the perfect moment. It’s still dark, but you can feel the light coming up.
As a photographer, you mainly shoot fashion editorials. This shoot must have been very different for you.
Yeah. Usually when I get commissioned for a shoot, I have a whole team with me: a stylist, a model, a setup, everything – even when I shoot in the Bekaa Valley. But here, it wasn’t fashion. It was more like shooting a personal series, or a theme, so it was more laid-back.
What type of subjects interest you?
I like minimal things, simple things. I used to like conceptual photos, but not so much these days. I’m getting more into analogue photos and film. I like to photograph the simplest thing I see.
This article appears in the issue43Buy Now