I met Mona on the back corners of the Internet during a brief wondrous fling with teenage, semi-internet fame during the early days of Tumblr. It was weird and most of those people have been removed from personal social media accounts. Mona however hasn’t been, partially because it’s been so enthralling to watch her concur all of her artistic endeavors. I first thought of Mona’s photography after a certain collection left me wondering if I was bad at being a young person. It’s a hard phenomenon to explain but it should make more sense after looking through Mona’s work. Mona is currently a student in London studying fashion communication and promotion at the extremely prestigious Central Saint Martins. She does everything from photography to videography and even a bit of modeling (you may recognize her from Lazy Oaf campaigns or Nylon editorials).
How did you start taking pictures? Was it a conscious attempt to become a “photographer” or was it more of an attempt to chronicle things?
I went to Madrid when I was younger with my mum and she gave me a disposable camera, from then on I was hooked. It was definitely more of a way to document my life! I just liked the idea of having physical copies of pictures instead of them being on your phone, where it’s so easy to loose them through the mishaps of technology.
Your pictures are really emblematic of what I think the pinnacle of youth is. Do you think you’re good at being young?
I don’t think I am conscious of it. I’ll be out with my friends having a good time or just walking along the street and see something that catches my eye. I like to keep my images quite raw and true to how I perceive them. I think I’m not necessarily good at being young, starting the first year of university has really made me mature as I’ve had to live independently and do actual adult things. However, saying that since moving to London I have been in situations that are a bit rowdy as I’ve had the freedom to do what I want, when I want. But I guess that is the whole point of being young?
British youth culture always seems really wild and unhinged to me. Do you think it’s exceptionally intense?
Being a teen/young adult is not as wild as Skins! I think the whole ‘youth culture’ especially in Britain has been glorified as something that is really cool through magazines and brands. It’s a shame as it gives a false perception (hanging around council estates [editors note: this mean public housing] is not cool, but probably quite dangerous). I do go out quite a lot and I’ve seen crazy stuff happen, but being a creative arts student I spend a majority of my time at home doing work. I feel like in American youth culture there’s a different sense of freedom compared to the British youth. You learn to drive much younger and I always have the image of road trips and red cup parties in my head.
A lot of photographers tend to be camera shy or generally quiet and introspective but you’ve also done quite a bit of modeling.
That’s very true, I think modeling really helped contribute to my photography. I’m quite a laid back person and I unintentionally think in a stylized way, and you can usually see it in both mediums of work.
Any bucket list photography goals?
I would love to shoot a series and an accompanying film in the countries that I’m from which is Dubai and the Philippines. I think it’ll be really interesting to see the culture which I could’ve been brought up in, which would simultaneously be a journey of self discovery.