Marc Nader Fine Art Photography | Press Reviews







Marc Nader, A Tender Dreamer

 © L'Orient-Le Jour - Edgard Davidian  |  April 25, 2012 (Translated from French)

 His hair is whiter than snow but the mind, the eyes, and the voice are still astonishingly young. Tracking and capturing images, visual as well as sonic, Marc Nader has art and creativity in his blood.

His camera strapped to his wrist, walking biskly, his scrutinizing eye on the lookout, still unsatisfied with offering the public, through exhibitions of his superb photographs (at Aida Cherfan), the treasure hunt of his walks and peregrinations, life  beauties buried on a daily basis, there he goes back to his ever burning first love, music.

For a guitar, and a few chords on a keyboard discovered at age 9, melodies start peeping again at the adult age. For this passion, still kicking and well alive, an Album with a very clear title “Back To The Roots”, magnifying, through soft and a tad melancholic tonalities, an “Urban Folk” maybe passé, but as soft and velvety as an artichoke’s heart.

Seven songs outlining a busy city life, where “rooftop” divas (hello Beirut posh nightlife!) play with their seduction, next to children left on their own in streets  where, rain or shine, misery grows like weeds on a smooth wall … A good place also to friendship, true friendship, the one that never dies ...

Composer, songwriter, and performer,  Marc Nader, also has accomplices for those beautiful lyrics, among whom Claude Salhani. For these delightful songs, a modern troubadour’s silvery and a tad bruised voice, half way between Leonard Cohen’s and Graeme Allwright’s, there is this beautiful atmosphere of a poet who gently denounces life’s decay, but also expresses his srong belief in hope and love.

This invitation to a dream starts with this beautiful album cover illustration, taken from a Café Younes street wall painting (today totally gone) in which Tarek Kandil has left the mark of a tasty image, representational without any doubt, yet so surreal and colorful, blending a delicious chaos with skillfully laid out objects. Like the twirls of a dream between tenderness, gloomy modernity, and childhood.


Marc Nader's 'Back To The Roots' ... in all simplicity

© L'Agenda Culturel | March 26, 2012 | Translated from French

Marc Nader’s new album was not named “BACK TO THE ROOTS” by chance, since music has been his first passion, which he faithfully nurtured since age 9, well before photography.

Indeed, Marc Nader, well known to the world of photography for over 40 years, and also for his near 15 years as photography lecturer at AUB, is coming back to music. He has just released an album of his latest Urban Folk compositions with the help of Lynn El Saghir and Sara Aridi on back vocals, not to mention that of his 30-year invaluable and inseperable acoustic guitar.  

« For the first time and after a long hesitation, due to his lack of confidence in the matter, I have decided to take the challenge of writing my very own lyric which, eventually,turned out to be a fascinating thing to do.” says Nader.

The album, which is after all his third release, includes 7 songs, 7 simple tunes telling simple stories about daily life. He addresses different themes such as friendship with “True Friendship Never Dies », love and killer roads with « Johnny Boy », poverty, injustice, and children of the streets with “She Was Only 9”, nightlife, vanity, make believe, fantasies, and lust, with “Queen Of The Rooftop Nights”, “communication or rather the lack of real communication, in these times of exponential globalization” with “You Gotta Make Your Move”.  

The cover art is a photograph of a large mural next to Café Younes in Hamra, created by Tarek Kandil, and which Marc had the chance to take before the wall was demolished … for the sake of real estate development.

For Marc Nader « this album represents, in a way, my return to the simplicity of acoustic folk music, which I used to appreciate so much when I decided to to get my first guitar in the early 60s, after 6 years of classical piano, and before many years of rock, Radio and TVC jingles, and pop, synthetizers and all sorts of electronic gadgetries.





Marc Nader’s Loco-(E)motions

©  L’Orient-Le Jour - Colette Khalaf | November 11, 2009 | Translated from French

Through a series of photographs (giclée-printed on canvas) on display at Aïda Cherfan Gallery (Downtown Beirut), on the theme "Locomotion Means", photographer Marc Nader tells us about his credo, already famous: “Less is more.” Until November 27.


"Loco-Motifs is not an exhibit depicting the functionality of transportation means, but rather an illustration of their graphic aspect”, says Marc Nader. For a long time have sounds and images surrounded the childhood of this self-taught artist. His mother being a  pianist, the young Nader feels quickly attracted to music, which will later become his hobby,  and photography which will become his primary passion.

Thus, Marc Nader has been devoting himself, for over four decades now, to his favorite “sport”: Image hunter – of course once he fulfilled his promise to obtain his Business degree - as he says. In 1983, he establishes himself in the States, but returns to Lebanon in 1996 when he is offered the position of Photography Lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Design at the American University of Beirut.

«Less is more » but also « Better is the enemy of good », this is what appears from this collection of giclée prints on canvas. Spotting and isolating the detail to bring it out, Marc Nader is inviting us to see close-ups of automobiles or tires, ships and boats, trains and rails, because, he says “It is the detail that gives more strength to the idea I want to get across . Therefore, I discard, and trim anything that might weakens the message”.

That message is nothing more than this emotional charge, this tactile and sensorial appeal powerfully projected to the viewer’s eye by simple reproductions. “I love matter and texture”, admits the photographer, “I love to bring the inanimate to a second life”. You can see those nuts, those bolts, and all that heavy steel as if  “they were smiling to you like happy faces” he adds while laughing, “but also this coherent interaction between  different matters”. The contrast between cold and warm colors, between liquid (the sea) and solid (the ship), or even between precise lines and soft, vaporous shapes. Everything aims at serving the precise instant where the captured subject vanishes to make room for the image which in turn becomes the subject.

Everything is in the detail …

Curious of everything around him, Marc Nader sharpens his vision and shoots. Ever since he’s been in the photography business, the artist has always followed the same visual approach. Of course, technology helps widen the visual field, while bringing improvements to the production process, « but if I had to reshoot those images, I would do it in exactly the same way ». Then he adds « One should not only concentrate on the technical side because if doing so, photography will not be a work of art comparable to painting or any other art, but rather a well crafted piece of work.”

Through smart positioning of elements and an acute sense of composition, this photographer, always concerned with the tiniest detail and the quality of light, creates emotions. “I am obsessed with composition, and the interactive dynamics of different materials amazes me, seduces me. I also aim at making the transition between one element and the other free of any blanks. Unless those are functional and useful, thus creating interesting vanishing points”.

Simple and refined, these photographs tell us beautiful stories. In color or black and white. So what! Isn’t life itself sometime color and sometime monochrome ? These images not only tell us about travel and exile, but also about freedom, and the thirst for open space. In every photograph there are those suspension points which allow the viewer to wander inside the image and to half-open distant horizons. “Those are simple ideas, explains Nader, which have no intention whatsoever to change the world, but rather to show it from a different perspective.”

“What I regret is certainly not the photographs that I discarded or lost, but rather those I was unable to capture, not having my camera with me. Nevertheless, those images are recorded in my head.” While saying that, one could spot in his eyes a furtive lightning. Like a flash burst from a pleasure that is still intact.



Lifestyle Magazine

© Lifestyle ME - Richard Labaki | December, 2008

Defining himself as a beauty-obsessed photographer, Marc Nader considers a genuine photo to be an invitation to the viewer to travel far within its dimensions – to discover it some more every single day. A real photo should simply be a doorway to another world. And one has to admire and contemplate it just like he or she would marvel at an artistic masterpiece. 

Nader believes that many walk by certain objects or landmarks regularly and never even notice the beauty that is there right in front of their eyes. And that is why those who observe Nader’s photos are surprised to see how the mundane elements of life could look so breathtakingly beautiful. 

Beauty is in fact everywhere only if you know where to look for it, only if you know how to extract it from its sometimes-ugly surroundings. Nader’s main objective is to have others entertain the same elevated emotions he experiences as he is taking a specific image. For him, composing a photo entails adopting the same approach as that of composing music.

Growing up in a somehow artistic environment (his mother was a classic musician and painter) it could be that this influenced his outlook on life and opened up his eyes on beauty that lies all around him. And although he acquired a degree in business, Nader decided to follow a career in photography early on and nurtured this passion by attending exhibitions, reading specialized magazines and experimenting through trial and error. The year 1966 signaled the beginning of his journey in the realm of photography, as he purchased his first camera. Five years later, Nader turned pro.

 What could be simpler as an image than a boat floating on water? The sun is sending its rays in the right direction; the light is marvelous as it embraces the boat. The contrasting colors are captivating. And the scene kept changing its shape by the minute; Nader actually spent 10 minutes lost in what he was seeing. Prepared his equipment and waited for the right moment to shoot. The photo represents simplicity and tranquility, and lures the viewer to wander deep inside its composition. Nader never tires of contemplating this image, which he believes has a painting-like quality. This image, he maintains, is pure poetry.





Marc Nader, His Pictures, His Music

© L'Orient-Le Jour - Zéna Zalzal | August 2007 | Translated from French

"I speak French, English, Arabic, Music, and Photography", says Marc Nader in an introductory sally. An "artistic multilinguism" that this "natural-born communicator" uses as a communication means and emotional vector to link with the others.

Photographer for nearly four decades, music writer for as long, and occasionally singer (he recorded two years ago a "Soft Rock" album), Marc Nader likes to track and convey the aesthetical emotion, which, in his eyes, can emerge from an alignment of beach chairs as well as a beautiful face, an interesting landscape, or a few music notes harmoniously backing meaningful lyrics.

"To be a photographer, one must be willing to look at things differently" he says. For Marc Nader, it is the photographer's eye that isolate elements, brings out a detail, chisels a composition ... To sum it up, the photographer's eye construct the image well before releasing the shutter. All the rest is just a matter of pure technique.

Keeping with his times, he has been favoring for some time now digital photography and the limitless possibilities it offers, even if, every now and then, he can't resist grabbing his good old camera and load it with a film roll. "It gives a warmer, almost more tactile rendering of tones and shades than digital, which may be more perfect but colder."

Less is more

He strongly believes that "Less is more". Minimalism and rigorous composition. "I'm a composition freak. Composition ought to be perfectly balanced and devoid of any unnecessary element" he says.

But also simplicity in the wording, so that the photograph can speak, in order to trigger a "universal emotion", even if each one perceives it differently.

Once those two requirements are well understood, all the rest becomes complementary, additional and adaptable, depending on the modalities and the main purpose of the image. For instance the choice of color versus black & white, this subtle interaction of lights and darks, which Marc Nader is particularly attracted to.

Totally self-taught, this camera fine artist says he never attended a photography class. Except that, ever since his early childhood, he dwelt in a universe of images and sounds. His mother was a classical pianist and a painter. Which leads him to take up piano at age 7. In his early teenage years he chooses the guitar. "Rock 'n' Roll" is thriving and Marc Nader is going to put together several rock groups.

"The first one was at College Notre-Dame de Jamhour, with fellow school kids, among which future Oscar winner Gabriel Yared. The next group was "The Vultures", keeping up with  name trends of the 60s. I played the bass. It lasted a few years until I left for college in France, where I kept on strumming my guitar." Except that in France he is going to truly discover the universe of photography. "Shooting portraits of pals, girlfriends, and model portfolios ..." he gets hooked up and decides to go professional upon his graduation from Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP Europe).

The Avant-Garde of image manipulation

    In the early seventies, he returns to Lebanon where - consecration ! - he signs the cover of the Baalbeck Festival program. "It was a wide-angle composition of the stairs in the Temple of Jupiter, cross-processed for a negative effect, inverted colors and tonal values. At that time it was being seen as the avant-garde of image manipulation" he remembers.

From that moment on, his  career as a fine art photographer is going to gear up in Lebanon. At the same time, he is going to move forward in the field of advertising and, a few years later, his musical skills helping, he is going to start writing jingles. In the early eighties he wrote a hit jingle "that was aired for a full 2 years on RMC", for a Japanese brand of watches, based on the tempo  and actual sound of a vintage mechanical alarm clock", he says, still amused after all those years. Always this interaction of image and music.

During the civil war, Marc leaves for France and then the United States, where he will set up and run his photography business until the late nineties, when he can't resist returning to Lebanon.

There, the American University of Beirut offers him a Lecturer position in the Department of Architecture and Design, which is going to give him the opportunity to concentrate simultaneously on his "personal artistic work". Ever since, alternating between his academic and creative endeavors, Marc Nader is a happy man.

Happy to teach: "I love that interaction with my students who bring me in freshness as much if not more than what I give them", he says with enthusiasm and modesty.

Happy to "capture through his lens the indefinable", this challenge  of seeing instantaneously objects, places, landscapes, and especially faces in which he tries to capture the soul.

Happy to be recording "for fun", with the help of his long-time friend Claude Salhani (who wrote the lyrics) an album of his compositions, "In The Confines of Your Head" (a blend of soft rock, somehow reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and Dire Straits), whose release was unfortunately scheduled at the wrong time when Rafic Hariri was assassinated two years ago, but that you can download online.

And quite happy to prepare, after taking part in the Salon d'Automne of the Sursock Museum, an exhibit in Dubai, which will be also featuring works of Pete Turner, "the undisputed master of color photography", Marc Nader says proudly, he who could be also labeled virtuoso of "musical photography", that which combines composition, rythm, and orchestration of colors and shade.





Nader Photographs Narrate Stories

© AUB Bulletin Today - Dina Abou Salem Dean | April 2006

Unique symmetry, richness, and mystery characterized the photographs of Marc Nader, which were exhibited in West Hall from March 20 to 31. His work is of the kind that tells the viewer stories that would have been lost to oblivion had it not been for his keen and sensitive camera eye.

Marc Nader, who is a part-time faculty member in the Department of Architecture and Design, first became interested in photography in 1963. During the 1970s and upon graduating from L'Ecole Supérieure de Commerce of Paris, he developed that interest into a noteworthy career as a commercial and fine art photographer. His photographs of Parisian rooftops, landscapes, women's portraits, and contemporary art tell a great deal about Nader; they are, according to him, "a means for self-expression."

The 84 photographs on display were intended to "trigger one's imagination and make one wonder about the place or the person in the photograph," says Nader. "I did not organize this collection chronologically or thematically, because each is an independent piece that captures the moment and represents a particular epoch in my life."

Professor Marwan Sabban, chairman of the Department of Photography, introduced Marc Nader as one of the few fine arts photographers "who have refined their art to bring the level of photography to a new dimension." Nader's exhibit is the second in a series of photography exhibits organized by AUB.


Marc Nader's Photographic Panorama

 © L'Orient-Le Jour - Maya Ghandour Hert | March 2006 | Translated from French

Marc Nader was twelve years old when he took his first photograph of a regatta. When he looked at the color print, stricken by the contrast between the cloudy sky and the multicolored sails, "How beautiful it can be, a photo taken with a plastic box", he exclaimed.  Between that first shutter click and the last "Click!", a view of Becharreh covered with snow, forty-year and always the same quest for aesthetical perfectionism. Quite a course, which the American University of Beirut is honoring today through a retrospective exhibit if the artist's work (at West Hall, through March 31).

"Painstaking" was the process of choosing the images for the exhibit. "There were many photographs I wanted to include in the exhibit ... But many were lost during the civil war".

Thus, he had to make his selections somehow playing it by ear, following his hunch. "Those photographs represent my own way of seeing things. After all isn't  photography a means to express artistically ideas that are at anybody's arm's reach" wonders the photographer. Indeed, he thinks that taking photographs boils down to dealing appearances, objects, light, textures. "I have always been fascinated by all those bjects that surround us. And images belong to the world of objects ... Images capture those objects that really want to be seen. I capture the specific seduction that lies within objects. And because objects capture your attention, you capture them with your eyes." It becomes a kind of exchange, of complicity ... 

Randomly displayed, Marc Nader's photographs combine both aesthetics and technique. From Beirut's harbor  to San Francisco Piers, from Douma valley to Paris rooftops, "each one follows its own creative path. Any inter-relation between one work and the one next to it is totally accidental. They are an optical representation at a given time". The image maker does not fail to detect a certain evolution on the technical side. "My vision of things hasn't changed, points Nader. But my recent photographs necessarily reflect a certain maturity."

The photographer does not deny his quest for the aesthetical, "all those beautiful things", as he likes to call them. He fancies contrasts, the interaction of shadow and light, the mix of geometrical lines and random shapes.

He often goes for close-up compositions, playing with the light to wave the details and get those shadows/highlights effects.

There are also quite a few women's portraits, seen through a tender, esthetical, yet powerful eye. Where feminine grace is there to help a theme, a feeling, an idea get across. "I thrive to capture all the beauty that appears in front of my eyes", he says.

But when it comes to photography, eyes speak much better than words, therefore I invite you to discover on your own the work of this photographer.




The Beiteddine Festival Catalog

© L’orient-Le Jour - Natacha Sikias | Juily 1997 | Translated from French

 This year, the Beiteddine Festival "catalog" sports a harmonious new look. The traditional advertising pages have been replaced with fine art photographs, along with the advertiser's logo. Some 60 photographs, most of them created by Marc Nader, and a few by Saad El Hakim. Images that combine musical instruments to the architecture of the palace. The catalog was "designed"by Leila Musfy.

"Enthused over the total creative freedom I was given, I accepted the job right away", says Marc Nader who returned from the United States a year ago.

"The initial idea was to photograph instruments. For the location, I suggested the palace. It was a way to be in the heart of the "subject". Randomly choosing an instrument, I tried to bring out an interaction between the rich and detailed, intrinsic architectural graphics of Beiteddine, and the functional graphics of the instrument. What came out from that interaction was a third element, which overwhelmed me: visual music".

Marc Nader stresses the joy that this mission gave him: "I felt like a beginner at photography. I worked for three months, taking my time, having access to every spot in the palace".

As far as the instruments, Nader uses those from his collection and borrows quite a few from friends and from the Mozart Chahine music stores. "That's how I discovered some "funny", quite interesting instruments such as the South American kokarico, that imitates the sounds of nature; an antique Pan flute, and another one, Inca ...".

"On the technical side, my motto was to  keep things as simple as possible", points Nader. "I chose a simple medium format camera, one single lens, and a tripod. No additional lighting, no reflectors, no gobos; only available natural light. I feel that technical acrobatics are not a prerequisite for a successful photograph".

The result is there, spread over 52 pages. Sharpness, combination of shapes and colors ... the setting fully serving the instrument, bringing it out, or vice versa. Images with almost a tactile feel, like the "grain" of this "oriental" tambourine hide, placed on a backlit, stained glass window ...

 "I would love photography to be recognized as a full-fledged art. Black and White as well as Color", he says. "One could do marvels with so little. Since I got back, I've been shocked by all the plagiarism that you find for example in advertising. Just look around you to find ideas, to create, to invent".

Well, for that you need to have the eye ... and the gift.


Marc Nader - Music At The Palace

© - Hervé Le Goff | Juily 1997 | Translated from French

The work on musical instruments was actually commissioned by the 1997 Beiteddine Festival. In order to get away from the dull catalog constraints, Marc Nader had the idea of associating the musical instruments to the architecture of their princely home. The resulting images are amazing and precious. Marble, woods, and brass in total communion, under the tutelary sign of art.





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