Amran Abdi, also known as AmzyOBR is one of the UK’s fastest rising photographers. You may know her from her iconic snap of Pop Smoke or from her Youtube channel. Amran has constantly defied the odds, overcoming her own personal/mental-health struggles, as well as being one of just a handful of young, female and BAME photographers in the UK. We chatted to Amran about that Pop Smoke photo, how she got her start in photography and what her faith brings to her work.
How Did You Get Your Start in Photography?
I have always been creative, but I never had the support nor the right people around me because it was uncommon to see a woman from my background and of faith having a creative dream. However, this never stopped me from being creative, if anything, creativity helped with my ADHD and my therapist always encouraged me to chase my dream. It wasn’t until 2017 when I decided I wanted to be a Youtuber and in a way, you could say photography found me. I was vlogging a concert but at the same time my camera started taking still pictures, and from then on, I knew I wanted to do photography and to capture moments that would last a lifetime. It brought me joy and a sense of purpose.
What Has Your Background/ Upbringing brought to your work?
My Mum is my biggest inspiration. A single woman who moved to a country where she didn’t even know the language in order to give her nine children a better future. It is her strength, her drive and her love for those that she cares about that inspire me the most. My Mum is one of the strongest people I know, and I always evoke her compassion, ambition and ability to overcome struggle in my work. If anything, my background and upbringing have taught me anything is possible if you keep going and to never give up and to fight for what I want.
How would you describe your style of photography?
Capturing moments that will last a lifetime.
What is one shot/photoshoot that has stayed with you?
It would have to be when I met Pop Smoke in 2018 at the Who We Be Spotify Concert. I was taking backstage pictures and I asked him if he would mind doing his Dior dance for a GIF. He was so kind about doing it and the shots we took were amazing. I then saw him in Paris, and he had come straight off the carpet just to say hello to me, and it was this crazy moment where out of all the photographers, I was the one he approached and the picture I took of him ended up going viral.
Can you tell us a bit more about your platform ‘Future Culture X’?
Future Culture X is a platform for the creatives of today and of the future. It is about bringing all creatives together and creating opportunities for networking, collaborations and so much more. When I was starting out, I never had any creative friends and I had always wished I did. Therefore, by creating this platform, I want to open a world of possibilities and accessibility to those with a dream.
You recently started uploading to your YouTube channel. What are your plans for YouTube moving forward?
Content and inspiring people! From tutorials to reaction videos, teaching, advice and so much more. I think it’s important to remember that I started out on YouTube. People knew about my personality before they knew about my photography. Therefore, I am rebuilding my YouTube because I care about the world and the people in it. One of my biggest aspirations is to be a healer, a role model and to make a difference, like Rosa Parks. She never let anyone stop her and she paved the path for us women.
You have talked about your religion before, what does your faith bring to your work?
My faith grounds me. It reminds me to always have hope and it teaches me to be a kind person no matter how cold the industry is. My faith also inspires my determination to make a change because it isn’t enough to just be good, you have to be good and set an example.
Is there anyone you would love to work with and shoot?
I would love to work with Missy Elliott because her creative vision is inspiring and unique. She is a boss and I aspire to be as big of a boss as she is one day. She pushed through the hurdles of being in a heavily male dominated industry and made her own noise, her own space and her own power.
What can we expect from you for the rest of this year?
I would definitely say more creative direction and more community work. I also have a huge announcement coming out on April 19 so make sure to tune into all my socials for all the latest updates about my work.