In the tapestry of Tanya Traboulsi (@tanya_traboulsi)'s life, woven from the threads of her dual heritage and nomadic upbringing, lies the essence of her photographic narrative.

Born to an Austrian mother and a Lebanese father, her childhood in the vibrant city of Beirut was a canvas painted with hues of cultural diversity and the ever-present tug-of-war between belonging and estrangement. Navigating the contrasting landscapes of her upbringing, Tanya's journey was not merely geographical but a profound exploration of self and identity. The dichotomy of her Austrian-Lebanese heritage not only enriched her experiences, but also instilled in her a poignant sense of displacement, a haunting disconnect from the notion of home.

She had some time to chat with me about her work, our exhibition Photography: the Universal Language, and life in photography.

FFU: Firstly, thanks for taking a bit of time to chat! Why photography? How did you get your start?

TT: I received my first camera at the age of 4, my mother's best friend gave it to me, it was a small point and shoot that used 110 film. From that moment on I pretty much always had a camera and took photos of whatever happened around me, mostly of friends and family. Later, after years of trying different things, I realized that photography is the medium that speaks to me the most. I slowly developed my practice over the years and now, after almost 18 years, I can say that I finally found my visual language and direction.
Tanya Traboulsi
© Tanya Traboulsi
FFU: You are one of 14 winning photographers in our exhibition Photography: the Universal Language. What made you apply? Tell us about your image that was chosen for the exhibition.

TT: A friend sent me the open call, and I applied. My winning image is a portrait of a young boy smoking. I was walking around Ras Beirut, which is an area of Beirut that is near the sea, I have a favorite spot there where I like to see the sunset. It happens that it's also the favorite spot of a group of young boys who, unfortunately, spend their days in the street, doing all kinds of things. When they saw me with my camera they gathered around me, begging me to photograph them. They started posing and I felt that this little shoot with them gave them a break from their daily routine in the streets.
Tanya Traboulsi
© Tanya Traboulsi
Look to others for inspiration, not for competition.
FFU: How do you stay inspired and continue to evolve as a photographer? Are there any resources or practices that you find especially helpful?

TT: I'm always very inspired when I'm in Beirut. The city is my inspiration. Walking around aimlessly with friends or alone is one of my favorite things to do. I have photographed Beirut a lot, but I never get bored. Even if I photograph the same street, building, person over and over again it's different every time.

FFU: Let's talk gear. What equipment do you typically use, and why do you prefer it for your work?

TT: I use digital and analog cameras. Sometimes I don't feel like carrying a heavy camera so I only take my 35mm point and shoot with me. Other times I like to shoot on medium format film, as well as on digital to have really high res images.
FFU: How would you describe your photographic style or approach? Are there any particular influences that have shaped your style?

TT: I've been told my images transmit a lot of nostalgia and poetry. I like that and relate to it.
Tanya Traboulsi
© Tanya Traboulsi
FFU: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers looking to improve their skills or break into the industry?

TT: Look to others for inspiration, not for competition.