Yumna Al-Arashi is an remarkable emerging photographer and photojournalist from New York City. Recently named an up and coming journalist by Forbes Magazine, Yumna works to break barriers and capture beauty while documenting raw human experience. Her photos are beautiful, sensual, and thought provoking. She covers themes of fashion, politics, sexuality, and women, sometimes combining all four.
Yumna travels the world to capture her breathtaking images, and interacts with people from manifold cultures and walks of life. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she moved on a whim to get away from the intensity of New York City as she prepares to travel to Yemen in November. She had always wanted to drive across the country, so she did, capturing some beautiful images along the way. GRACESHIP recently was afforded the pleasure of chatting with Yumna, and learning about her travels and goals.
GRACESHIP: Hi Yumna! How did you get into photography?
Yumna: I randomly picked up a camera when I was young and started taking photos of my friends and my daily life.
GRACESHIP: How did you establish your online presence?
Yumna: I kept a journal online when I started taking photos- it was really silly stuff at first. I guess blogging started to get my name out into the online world.
GRACESHIP: You have over 15,000 Instagram followers- do you promote actively or did it happen organically?
Yumna: Instagram had put me on their “featured users” list for about a week, which led to the 15,000 followers. I don’t really promote my Instagram, I just think it’s a fun social media outlet.
GRACESHIP: What is your favorite city that you’ve traveled to?
Yumna: I can’t pick favorites! Each city has it’s own charm, that’s what keeps me on my feet. Some of my favorites are New Orleans, Socotra, Cairo and Beirut.
GRACESHIP: How many countries have you traveled to?
Yumna: Gosh...I have no idea. I tried to count and lost track..I think around 15 so far? It seems like nothing.
GRACESHIP: More than many get to see! That’s so wonderful. How often do you travel?
Yumna: Um, probably too often for my own good! Even if it's just a road trip, I get an itch to leave wherever I am quite often.
GRACESHIP: What do you derive inspiration from?
Yumna: Powerful women, mostly. Especially ones that are closest to me.
GRACESHIP: Since you’re on the road or in the air so much, do you have a holy grail beauty product you don’t travel without?
Yumna: I know it’s not really a beauty product, but I love coconut oil. I don’t really wear much makeup, I just make sure to keep moisturized and coconut oil always works.
GRACESHIP: What’s your favorite place to shop online? Describe your style.
Yumna: eBay! I'm a cheap ass. I like finding awesome deals. I've been into basics a lot lately. Black and white. Comfort.
GRACESHIP: How do you usually get opportunities to book a shoot? Do you reach out to people or vice versa?
Yumna: A little bit of both! It’s about working smart, keeping an open mind, meeting new people, sharing ideas and collaborating with other creatives.
GRACESHIP: What are your aspirations for the future?
Yumna: Everything is always changing so it’s hard for me to think too far ahead! I just want to be able to freely create in whatever medium works for me at the moment, teach people and travel.
GRACESHIP: Do you have an all time favorite shoot?
Yumna: Not really! I actually end up disliking most of my work once it's done and over with.
GRACESHIP: Name a few of your biggest photography achievements. What are you most proud of?
Yumna: I'm always proud to be able to peoples minds with my work. It all started with my trips to Yemen, sharing my culture and educating others about a land that didn't even exist in most people's minds. I've had the chance to collaborate with amazing people as well. Being mentioned in Forbes Magazine, doing a commercial with National Geographic, that was all fantastic.
GRACESHIP: How can everyday women take better photographs of themselves? Any advice?
Yumna: Love yourself! Have fun! Use self timers. Mirrors are helpful.