Italian beaches. Tanned limbs strapped into bikinis. Muscled hams in brief swimsuits. Wooden speedboats. Striped umbrellas. If you’re in love with the fabled La Dolce Vita dream, and let’s face it who isn’t, you’ll adore the photography of Akila Berjaoui.
The sometimes Berlin, sometimes Barcelona, sometimes Sydney-based photographer searches for a “sensuality and timelessness” in her photos of Positano beaches, of girls in swimming pools and couples entwined under umbrellas.
Some of Akila’s work is straight photo journalism, she’ll grab her old Nikon film camera and aim at whatever pleases, but she also likes to drop a particularly striking model into an already fabulous tableau.
“I have a certain girl I shoot,” she says. “Girls with a vulnerability in their eyes. I want to capture their raw beauty, their sensuality. I like the girls that are cheeky and provocative and who are comfortable in their own skins.”
But, not perfect.
“I do like girls with big wide blue eyes but I also look for imperfections. A lot of people don’t believe these girls are top models because they look too girl-next door. There’s no makeup, little styling. I don’t want it to look contrived.”
Akila’s photos are shot, mostly, around the islands and coast of Italy, a country that Akila spent two months in last year. “I love the light, I love the beaches, I love the freedom,” she says. “It’s that freedom from the constraints of time. You’ve got all these towns built thousands of years ago and all the Italians lazing around in the sun. Time is certainly not of the essence. They’re not too concerned about being anywhere. It’s a particular type of freedom that I like very much.”
Akila, if you were wondering, was named after her “divine” Turkish-Cypriot grandmother and means “quiet and wise” in Turkish.
And, if you ask Akila to describe her style of shooting, what defines her photography, she replies,
by Derek Rielly