Irene Mahmud is a talented Detroit native on the rise! No, this Bengali beauty is not a face you’ll see ON screen but behind it! Mahmud is a YouTube vlogger, and a photographer, who has worked with some of the most beautiful faces of the world including Miss USA, Rima Fakih!
A determined fashionista, Mahmud has already made a name for herself in such a short time and with the opening of her own studio last year, it won’t be long until the biggest names in the world are calling on this little lady for a photo shoot! We had a chance to sit down with Mahmud to find out more about her, her work and her future plans, so get all the scoop right here!
UA: Why photography? What was the inspiration behind choosing photography as a career instead of just a hobby?
Irene Mahmud: Ever since I was young I was always into art, I started out drawing and as I grew older I began dabbling in different mediums. Creation became an addiction for me which eventually led to becoming a professional retoucher. It was during this time that my interest in photography really *sparked*, I would find myself looking at the photos I had to work with, frustrated, thinking “I could do this better!” I splurged on some equipment soon after and literally just.. started!
UA: Coming from a South Asian family we’ve got to ask didn’t your parents pressure you to become a doctor, engineer or lawyer? How did you family react to such an unusual career choice?
Irene Mahmud: They sure did! I was pre-med for four years and an accounting major for two years. They were definitely confused when I began taking photography seriously as a career simply because they didn’t “get it”. They still don’t fully understand, but they’ve become much more supportive and are always excited for me every step of the way.
UA: On your website it says that you are a self-taught photographer, have you ever considered, or have you taken classes since then to improve your skills?
Irene Mahmud: I have never taken a photography course and never really had plans to even though I still have SO much to learn. There are so many photographers that inspire me beyond belief and it would be an absolute dream to shadow or assist any one of them. I’m a very hands-on, visual person and learn best by experiencing and “doing”. There are just some things you can’t learn out of a book.
UA: How did you feel when you first opened up your own studio in 2011? After only 2 years of working as a photographer that is a great accomplishment!
Irene Mahmud: It felt absolutely amazing and I finally felt… validated. It was two years before that when I first picked up a camera but I would say I was shooting seriously for only a year. Throughout my journey I was always very hesitant to actually call myself a “photographer” — I felt embarrassed. We live in a time where electronics are relatively cheap and everything is done digitally and it has gotten to the point where everyone and their mother is a “photographer.” Everyone has these these egos and self-proclaimed titles regardless of the quality of their work, my biggest fear is/was to be grouped with them. Personally, I think its very important as an artist to constantly be looking forward with a hunger to climb – we should never feel satisfied with where we are. Its a disease of ambition — which left me feeling not ready to be a “professional.” After establishing a network of clientele and opening the doors to my studio and seeing my name on the door, I finally feel like this is real. I still have such a long way to go, studio or no studio — and I promise I will never take myself too seriously.
UA: What about the first time you saw your work published in a magazine! How did you feel? Was your family proud of your accomplishment?
Irene Mahmud: Oh my goodness, I squealed when i first saw it. I actually have it caught on tape: me tearing open a package of magazines, gasping in delight. My family was so excited, they scanned the pages and emailed them to all of our relatives.
UA: To date what would you consider your biggest achievement? What is a dream that you still wish to accomplish?
Irene Mahmud: hmm.. that’s a toughie. My biggest achievement was probably just getting over the hurdle with my parents, I felt like the biggest weight was taken off of my shoulders when I finally got their support. My dream is to shoot high end beauty campaigns for cosmetic companies. I’ve never had an interest in shooting fashion. Beauty is my passion and my niche, I have an unhealthy obsession for perfection — different, unique faces really intrigue me. Fun fact about me: my dream was to become a plastic surgeon during my pre-med days, I’ve always had that obsession for perfection.
UA: What led to the creation of your YouTube channel? You have quite the following and fans love your “outfit of the day” and tutorial videos!
Irene Mahmud: My YouTube began as a photoshoot-behind-the-scenes channel, my first video was my shoot with Rima Fakih. I eventually went off on a few vlog and beauty tangents but lately I’ve been trying to bring my channel back to what it was originally supposed to be, a fun little peek at my job.
UA: You’ve had the honor of shooting some beautiful faces like actors, reality stars and numerous beauty queens from around the world including our very own Miss USA Universe 2010, Rima Fakih! How was it shooting with Rima Fakih? What is something about Rima that you don’t think the world doesn’t see?
Irene Mahmud: Working with Rima was a blast! When she left for Miss USA I knew in the bottom of my heart that she had it in the bag even though she’s not the typical primped pageant girl. She is just too charming, all we did was goof around and laugh when we’d see each other — I don’t know if the world has gotten to see that carefree side of her yet.
UA: Which star is someone you’d do anything to hold a photo shoot with?
Irene Mahmud: Nicki Minaj! I’d make her look like the most glamorous, perfect little barbie (shh! you know it’s true!), and seriously though… we could totally be besties.
UA: I know I’ve got to ask this on behalf of all the drooling boys waiting to pounce on the sidelines but…. Are you single??
Irene Mahmud: ok ok ok.. I guess UA can have the exclusive: I’m married to my work.
UA: Let’s get a little wild now, what is a deep dark secret that no one else knows?
Irene Mahmud: -_-
UA: Okay, okay, next question? If you were trapped on a secluded island what are 4 things you absolutely must have to survive?
Irene Mahmud: Four very close friends You can’t go wrong with endless love and laughter.
UA: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Irene Mahmud: I don’t know if this counts but I make the best fried ice cream! If you’re asking for a flavor out of a tub I would have to go with strawberry cheesecake.
UA: Michigan gets pretty cold does it not? What’s one pass time you love to do to keep warm in the winter time?
Irene Mahmud: Going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do, ever. I love getting completely immersed in a film and just losing track of time. It might sound a little sad, but I go to the movies alone all the time — it’s super relaxing.
UA: What is your favorite brand of pink lipstick/lipgloss?
Irene Mahmud: It’s impossible for me to choose just one, I am *obsessed* with pink lipstick/gloss. Here we go: my favorite pink MAC lipsticks: Please Me, Show Orchid, Impassioned, Snob, Pink Plaid. Some others: NARS – Turkish Delight, Makeup Forever – Rouge Artist Intense #4, Heidi D – Tipsy.
UA: What is a fast food franchise that you absolutely hate! Someplace where you can’t stand the food at all!
Irene Mahmud: McDonald’s, blegh!!
UA: As a fashion lover what are 3 stores that you would recommend to readers to grab the best fashion for less?
Irene Mahmud: Although I LOVE fashion.. I absolutely HATE shopping. It’s just so time consuming and exhausting, I hate going to the mall. If I ever need something quickly and can’t have my friends/personal-shoppers hunt things down for me I usually run over to TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, or my friend’s boutique, Kiss & Tell.
Well there you have it! Our exclusive with the lovely Miss Irene Mahmud! We’d like to extend a special thanks to Irene Mahmud for taking the time to hang out with us it’s been a pleasure.