Meet Tarek, the 21 Year Old Photographer Making Waves

By: Fadila

I stumbled onto Tarek’s account back in April 2018, I was doing my IB mock exams, teenntimes was barely a year old, interviews had dried up, and I was looking for the next big teen talents to cultivate, bring to the front, and give to the world. Today, he’s my best bro, my go-to photographer, and the only person an overachiever like me could even consider equal in passion, ambition, and sheer grit. He’s constantly pushing and pulling, trying new things and nestling back into his comfort zone, working with digital then film, photography but a bit of videography, he doesn’t know when to quit, and it’s what made him one of Egypt’s most popular and sought after photographers in barely a year. Here’s the rundown:

Yasmine Hany via @tarek.jpeg

Ahmed Tarek (@tarek.jpeg) graduated from Greenland International School back in 2015 with an IB diploma. He then went on to join AUC and for the entirety of his freshman year, he was after a computer engineering major, turns out, he doesn’t actually like numbers all that much, thus he did the only logical thing, he transferred schools within the university and started over. The current 21 year old AUC student is doing a double major in Multimedia Journalism and Film in addition to a minor in Anthropology, he’s also dead set on graduating a year from now.

Ismail Sabet for Oversized via @tarek.jpeg

Having a major set in BEC and one in PVA, a minor in HUSS, and a year already below his belt in SSE; he’s a well rounded individual – by AUC standards anyway. He happens to be on the university’s basketball team, so all of us AUCians see much of him. He’s one of the friendliest people on campus, seems like he knows everyone, but doesn’t have a “holier than thou” attitude at all. He’s always stressing the difference between knowing his worth and being an arrogant shit, which is usually aimed at me, but not the point. 

Hora Sherbeeny at AUC’s SU Talent Show via @tarek.jpeg

Tarek started falling in love with photography at the tender age of 7 – baby Tarek is the cutest – although, much like everyone, he was somewhat hesitant about taking serious steps doing the thing he loved because most of our society sees it as an “unreliable” method of living. So, at an age that is somehow seen as too early but also too late, Tarek set up his Instagram account in April of 2018 after taking some pretty cool portraits of his friends on one of their trips in Sokhna.

BTS of Suzanne ’19 via @tarek.jpeg

Having started, he went on to shoot for RADICAL, an online magazine/hub run by Nour Hassan, all the while continuously posting various portraits of his friends at uni, during outings, and on trips. He moved on to applying for a part time job with a barely put together portfolio at one of Egypt’s top PR firms, Maison Pyramide. When asked about his choice in starting place Tarek had only one thing to say: “working in an agency when you’re starting is beneficial because you get to learn about a lot of different genres of photography; fashion, product, portraits etc.” If I were you, I’d listen to that advice because look what happened next.

Youssef Hanna for UNTY via @tarek.jpeg

June of 2018, Tarek was doing his first “big gig” – yes, that’s 2 months after he started aiming for photography as his career choice – when Maison Pyramide produced a campaign for renowned charity organization Helm in collaboration with gorgeous Arab celebrity extraordinaire Jessica Kahawaty. Walking in, Tarek felt like an amateur, he talked to himself like he was an amateur, but you know what? He absolutely – and I quote – “nailed it.” You know where that shoot ended up? Vogue Arabia AND Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Talk about going big, yes? Thing is, this is not a wasta thing or a half-assed thing for a trend, this is a man with a passion, a dream, and enough tenacity and ambition, enough willpower and self discipline, to make it happen, and make it happen he did. 

Today, Tarek has shot brands such as UNTY, Suzanne, Baraka Optics, The King’s Mother, and Hugo Boss. He worked on a shoot with superstar and MBC’s own TV Host Nardine Farag. He started as Disco Misr’s personal photographer in November of 2018, he’s been following them and covering all their gigs throughout the past 8 months – watching him do it has been an absolute treat.

He’s done enough insane concert shots; some of which included celebrities Amina Khalil, Tara Emad, Shereen Reda, Zap Tharwat, Amir Eid, Sary Hany, and Tamer Hashem alongside Sharmoofers Moe Arkan and Ahmed Bahaa. Moreover, he’s been doing the photography work for all of the illustrious Disco Misr’s events for the last year, in both digital and film. He then went on to be a part of the team working to capture RedBull’s SoundClash ‘19 – capturing some incredible shots of Aziz Marka, Disco Misr, and Jadal. 

Y’all know Romanseyya Manseyya, right? So their agency – Peace Cake – has hosted him once for some fun but aesthetically pleasing behind the scenes, which led to him capturing behind the scenes of their collaboration with Pepsi for this year’s Ramadan ad. (Genuinely upset he got to hang out with Yaya and Safi while I haven’t yet, but also not the point). Let’s also not mention that he worked closely with some of our favorite teen creatives including: Laila Ezzat, Yasmine Hany, Farah Magdi, Sohaila Kandil, Amira Adeeb, Youssef Hanna, Hoda Sherbeeny, Nour Rizk, and Ismail Sabet among many others shaping the up and coming media scene. 

I should not be saying this, but coming up next are a couple of his own mind blowingly interesting personal projects, Sandbox, and something entirely new and too big to be announced here – maybe later. However, he had already released his first project series a while back, having named it Oversized. 

Being practically family by now, I asked many work-personal questions, so here they are, and their pretty much “Tarek” answers, if there’s such a thing – but first, check the Disco Misr pics out:

Question Time!

What’s your ultimate goal?

“I don’t have an ultimate goal, I have too many diverse goals, but all are related to photography. If I can sum them all up, I would say my ultimate goal is to never stop shooting, to always experiment with new styles and new ways of capturing light, to meet new people through photographing them,to get inspired by them, and to always be triggered by new creative ideas to shoot.”  

Sohaila Kandil via @tarek.jpeg

Is there anyone you look up to? 

“I personally don’t look up to anyone, I have many favourite photographers, but no one is the same – everyone has different eye, a different style and a different work ethic. Maybe you can have similar styles or be inspired by one of them, but I don’t look up to them as idols as much as people I can learn from.”

Laila Ezzat via @tarek.jpeg

How do you stay motivated?

“So, motivation is always within what I like and what I do and how I can incorporate photography in it.”

Who is someone you really want to work with? 

“Honestly, I don’t know, like, I always say I would love to shoot this person and then I forget all about it but 3-4 weeks later I find myself actually shooting with this person, so it always changes.”

Safi via @tarek.jpeg

If you could give our readers a piece of advice, what would it be?

“I’m still not in a position to give advice to others, but I can tell people how I started photography, which is that I shot friends, if I had an idea I would call up a friend take them to the place and shoot them there. I’m also a very strong believer in shooting what you love – if you love something you’ll shoot it creatively; music, sports, sneakers, whatever. But, if you know about it enough and you personally see it interesting you’ll shoot it in a creative way that maybe no one could see or shoot quite like you did.”

Yaya via @tarek.jpeg

How do you balance university, work, and social life?

“At first, balancing uni and work was not easy to be honest, I ended up skipping some things, hanging out with friends, playing PS4 things like that, but I learned that if you want to do anything, you’ll make the time for it. If you don’t want to do something or if you’re just half assing it, you’ll start coming up with excuses or problems for why you cannot make it or do it.”

Farah Magdi via @tarek.jpeg

It’s unfortunately time to wrap up, but to be quite honest, this doesn’t do Tarek justice. He’s talented beyond words, his ability to learn from his mistakes is astounding, his sheer perseverance is admirable, and his humility is something quite rare these days. This is not a man who works with a trend, this is a man that creates trends, a man that stands out, someone who had a dream and went above and beyond his own expectations is a single year – only 365 days. This is pure and undulated talent, it makes me feel such intense pride knowing he belongs to our generation, he’s already changed so much having been in the first wave of people to ever bring back the use of film in Egypt, and he’s changing so much more having started at his age.

Malika Helal via @tarek.jpeg

He’s breaking glass ceilings, he’s establishing himself, and he’s proving to everyone that all it takes to make your life’s calling happen is to simply answer the call – it’s never too early, it’s never too late, trust the process. I’ve got too many words to describe this kickass human being, having achieved so much, went through so much, but came out on top anyway. Thank you for giving me this chance to give the world more of you. Good luck in all your future endeavors, you got this. 

Brilliant audience, I leave you with one phrase: this man will dominate the world, just wait.

Tarek, I leave you with one word: GANG.

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