by Nora Uitterlinden
Balancing between art and documentary photography, Rena Effendi (b. 1977, Azerbaijan) can’t be pigeonholed. She has won several prizes (Prince Claus fund, Getty Images Editorial Grant, et al), frequently publishes in magazines including The New Yorker, Le Monde and National Geographic, and she has served as a jury member for World Press Photo. She currently lives with her family in Cairo. In this interview with GUP, she talks about places having different colour palettes, telling photo stories to her daughter and anxiety before an assignment.
When we connect on a video chat, Rena Effendi is preparing for a work trip to Russia. She shows her suitcases and her camera that she’s going to pack. “I use this one particular camera, a Rolleiflex. It’s a strange looking camera, I like that about it, people take interest in me. They’ll start asking questions, where I’m from and who I am. People often pursue me, instead of the other way around, just because of that camera. I also like how humble it is, because this camera requires a kneeling position.” She demonstrates it in front of the webcam. “See, it looks like I’m praying,” she says. “I don’t like it how most cameras are so ‘in your face’. They’re almost like a gun. My camera is less threatening at least.”