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Check Out Tasneem Maryum’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tasneem Maryum.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I am a Detroit-native photographer and have been capturing natural light lifestyle and portraiture since 2013. I developed my love for the craft by immersing myself in artistic spaces and communities such as the Artist Village & Motor City Java House, attending events like the African World Festival, Dabl’s Bead Museum, Midtown Detroit at Cass & Willis on weekends to highlight the Detroit experience that not many get to witness. I would often take photo walks with photographer friends in popular places like Belle Isle and the heart of Downtown Detroit. 

From frequenting the Artist Village (we used to call it the AV for short) so much, I encountered a lot of poets and singers who made it really easy to define my eye for how my aesthetic developed. I met Baba Camara and Kevlar from Black Tie Collective who took me under their protection being a young Muslim sister out at night at poetry clubs; they knew what I didn’t at the time. It wasn’t long before I was invited into the collective as a documentarian for the work. This is where I grew completely as an artist, from my photography to spoken word and the performing arts as well, and how many came to know me in and outside the community activist sector. My passion for people allowed me to create an extensive portfolio ranging from non-profit assignments to weddings, family portraits, and artists across many mediums. 

I did have a 5-year hiatus where many thought I had set down my lens for good…but I knew I wasn’t done; I was only on the sidelines, going and growing through life, and had to not only figure out my direction but recommit myself to the craft. From the suggestion of a mentor, I bought a used Sony mirrorless camera after having been with Canon for almost a decade, so it was like learning a new language. Once I was back in the flow of things… it was like everyone knew, and the work appeared without me looking for it. I’ve always been heavily involved in the Muslim community and just as much in the activist community, so this time the two worlds converged, and that’s where a lot of my recent work has taken place, within organizations such as Dream of Detroit, Muslim ARC, and Detroit Equity Action Lab. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Definitely not a smooth road. Lol. I built my first brand around this name that I hadn’t secured legally, and after years, found that it was being stolen right underneath me. I was frustrated moreso because I didn’t take the legal measures of forming an LLC. So, I decided to rebrand, which took time, and honestly, I had help from a friend who’s very much an inspiration for me artistically, and they were gracious enough to give me the idea without asking for anything in return. Other frustrations have been with equipment woes and having a vision that was bigger than my camera model allowed, and the feeling of being stuck from literally not being able to execute what I was seeing…it wasn’t until later that I learned that the mirrorless was exactly what I needed. Lastly, I had some heartache when applying for grants. I knew that it was a slim chance that I would win the $20k grant with the first submission, and I don’t know if my favorite lens breaking right after waiting 6 months for the results is what made it worse…but the month of June in 2015 crushed my artistic spirit and reduced it to a glimmer of a spark. So glad that’s a Hakuna matata. Lol 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I think the best way to explain my work is from the feedback of many, who have told me that it feels like they were there in the moment when they experience my work. 

I specialize in Natural and available light, so I intentionally shoot without a flash and adjust my settings to the lighting in the room or the scene. It gets really fun when the sun hits just right. 

I shoot people a lot, so you can catch me at my best at crowded events catching scenes that most didn’t know I caught and portraits that bring out the best in us, the beauty of humanity and the fullness of the spirit. 

I’m most proud of capturing the diaspora in a beautifully positive way and for educating the masses about everyday Muslim life with my work on the two annual Eid’s, which are the holidays in the Muslim faith. Growing up, for myself and many Muslims, people perceived us as not being able to celebrate anything simply because we did not partake of the Gregorian calendar holidays…so documenting my community and sharing on social media and seeing the plethora of comments from non-Muslims and Muslims who didn’t know we could go hard with our festivities…that’s one of the works I’m most proud of. 

I think what sets me apart is how spirituality translates into my art. It’s a living thing for me and guides my eye to the point that there are many things that I don’t realize I captured until after reviewing the album. It’s an intense experience. 

What makes you happy?
Nurturing my relationship with the Most High and sharing the gifts that I have been blessed with to help uplift others… makes me happy. This shows up in many ways, from my photography to feeding someone a home-cooked meal or a nice beverage that I made, to gifting books that I know that person would enjoy…to making jewelry and giving it away. Knowing that loving the creation makes the Creator love me more makes me happy. This is what fills my cup that allows me to continuously pour into others. 


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Image Credits

Tasneem Joseph

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