After wowing the world with his unbelievable camel selfie, and setting the internet alight once more with his Spiderman series just this week, we talk to Hossam Atef, AKA Antikka, about creating photography for the internet age...
You may not have heard of Hossam Atef, but there's no doubt you've seen his photos at some point. Most photographers will work a lifetime before receiving international recognition but in the space of a few months, the 20-year old freelance photographer better known as Antikka has shot three viral photo series that have flooded Egyptian social media with shares and clicks as well as reaching droves of international publications.
First there was the gender role reversal shoot which saw women in male-dominated scenarios in downtown Cairo, testing cultural norms and promoting equality.Remember this camel selfie? Yes, that was him and the image was shared on almost every publication here and throughout the world including Buzzfeed, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mashable and 9Gag just to name a few.
And most recently, of course, there was Spider-Man...
Atef only began taking pictures two years ago, before saving up enough money to get himself a camera with a passion to cover fashion and street photography. He seems though, to have a very special knack for creating stories and images that are both fun in nature but evoke a visceral reaction for the viewer; a new kind of art seeping into the photographer's zeitgeist that is made for Facebook likes and shares. And Antikka is the king of it. Although admittedly sometimes it's unintentional, as was the case with the most famous camel selfie of all time: "Of course I didn't expect it to go internationally viral at all! If I knew I would have at least added a watermark, the camel just happened to be laughing by chance so I took the picture!"
The secret he says to creating a viral picture story is "how spontaneous and natural the images are, and how it contradicts reality." This is much of the reason Spider-Man in Egypt was so mesmerising; blending the surreal with the super real. "The idea came to me when I was sitting with my friends joking around saying 'imagine if Spider-Man came to Egypt what could happen!!' The shock in people's eyes were so clear and kids thought it was real, while old people thought he was one of Sisi's guys!"
It's that sense of wondering what the people in the photo must be thinking too that adds to this viral photography effect. "The main idea behind this set of photos is to tell the world that the Egyptian people usually do unbelievable acts in different situations and are able to cope with very weird situations by making a lot of fun of it. They know how laugh through the toughest times. We wanted to draw a smile on the Egyptian citizen face."
Antikka is currently saving up to fund some upcoming projects, which we have no doubt, will be popping up on your feed sometime soon.
Check out Antikka's photography page here