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Searching for Beauty and Meaning in Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War” Music Video





Director Walid Azami Sought Unique Ways to Portray the Pop Star

Viewers of Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War” music video may not soak in the significance of the stained glass window she’s facing while perched on the edge of a bathtub in the opening scene.

“You listen to her interviews and you hear how she’s relied on God. She’s in a cramped space and it’s dark and I wanted an element of God in the room, of lightness and good,” said Walid Azami, the director of the video that was nominated for a 2013 Soul Train “Video of the Year” award.

The details that can go unnoticed, coupled with the imagery and style Walid used, elevate the video from what could have been the retelling of a reality show to a timeless creation.

Walid told me during an interview that the project was like caring for someone’s newborn baby, and he knew how important the project was to her career. The song “Love and War” focuses on the challenging reality of relationships and Walid said he wanted to change the tone from how viewers may associate her with the reality show Braxton Family Values.

I also dug into his career that began about five years ago while working with Madonna.

How did working for Madonna lay a career foundation for you as a photographer?

She does so much to learn so much. I sat there and I watched. I watched her work with thesephotographers and directors and I thought, ‘I won’t get this chance to be a fly on the wall like this, anywhere but here.’

She was doing children’s books, and sitcoms, and a world tour. I was there for 1 ½ to 2 years and she has her hands in so many different pots you can’t help but learn. I felt like I came out with a college degree in marketing and music videos and imagery. She does more than any other pop star, really.

For Tamar’s video, how did you decide on your approach?

Her character [on the reality show] is so amped up, I wanted people to see how beautiful she is. I wanted to tone her down. The hard decision in that was initially there weren’t the kindest reviews from her fans. They wanted a lot more war. They wanted doors slamming and things breaking and I wasn’t going to give them that.

I promised her she was going to have a classic video that would never expire.

The song is so descriptive and it is about love and war and I thought, let’s not the let the video become so literal.

Now she’s in her third and fourth video, I think you can see the plan work out.

Did you feel a lot of pressure?

A ton of pressure. I’m not going to lie. She’s following in Toni Braxton’s footsteps and we didn’t want a Toni Braxton video. At the time, she was several months pregnant and she hadn’t told me but I knew. So that was the hard thing, trying to think of the different angles. There were things I changed on set. I didn’t want her knowing that I know because I was afraid she would be self-conscious and she would be showing.

That was a huge challenge the day of. They can have their private moment but I still need to make her look incredible for this video.

Did the silhouettes play into it? The video and clothing seemed to flow.

The flowing, the dress, it was a sweater I think, I intentionally leaned on that for that reason. The silhouette was part of the symbolism throughout the video.

Why the black and white and why not intersperse with color?

I thought it would have been tacky for that song. I had just gotten back to the States from a trip and I got a call from Vincent her husband and said, ‘Hey, Tamar wants to talk to you.’ We had a few creative points back and forth and she said I want to do this in black and white. I think I even told her God bless you.

It was inspired by Herb Ritts for Chris Isaack’s video “Wicked Game.” It was very classic and he directed a video from Madonna’s “Cherish.” We actually filmed on the exact same patch of beach.

I saw a picture of Herb Ritts and he posed on the same little rock that I did with Tamar. He’s one of the photographers I look up to so I found that cool.

What about the symbolism in the video?

I use a lot of silhouettes because I wanted to highlight the war part without a lot of fighting. I show the darkness, the arguing moments, in silhouettes.

The first part of the video started with her looking at the ocean, she’s on the sand. I really wanted to use water because I think it’s cleansing. I think in any relationship, in any situation, you have to take a look at yourself, too.

I wanted her to see a reflection of herself, look at that, in a cleansing back-to-something-new sort of way. That’s why we started that way.

It shows your commitment to the project.

Always. I was talking to my assistant and I said, any artist, they sacrifice so much and it’s like literally holding someone’s newborn baby and they say, ‘here you go. I did everything I cold with this and I need you to take care of it.’ 

If you don’t give 100 percent then I think you’re failing.

You have to commit because you’re holding someone’s dream in your hands.

To view Walid’s work, click on his website 

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Tamar Stills from LOVE AND WAR video

Tamar Stills from LOVE AND WAR video

Director: Walid Azami

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Tamar Braxton talks about the LOVE AND WAR video

Tamar Braxton shot the music video for hot single, “Love and War,” in Los Angeles earlier this week. This single made many naysayers of Tamar into believers, she is set to release her new album next month. TheYBF was there to catch all of the behind the scenes of the video shoot and it was revealed that this visual will show a softer and sensual side of Tamar. Stay tuned for the video coming soon! Tamar Braxton is still on a high with her new single “Love and War” from her upcoming album that is scheduled for February 2013. With heavy promotion Tamar used the photography and director skills of  Walid Azami to deliver excitement to her fans…

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Christina Aguilera, by Walid Azami

Christina Aguilera, by Walid Azami

I was honored to direct a segment for Christina Aguilera for her AMA performance tonight. Here’s a still of that video (TV only showed a small segment of it)

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Frenchie Davis, by Walid Azami

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IM5’s ZERO GRAVITY Premiers on The Insider TV

Here is the video for IM5’s Zero Gravity. We filmed it about 2 months ago and I wanted an extremely 180 from their last video which was sunny, warm, and playful. I wanted to show the boys could not only sing, but dance their asses off.

I’m trying to add “did you know” facts about each video I do. Here we go for ZG…

1. I had to fight for the video to have a cool color tone, I wanted it less friendly. Soon after everyone was on the same page, and you have this version. I also wanted to keep the video darker in color.

2. That plexi glass shot was one of the hardest we had to do, the last shot of the day, and the most dangerous because of the way we set it up. It was also the priciest set-up. The hardest set up was to be used the least amount of times, but I wanted everyone to see another angle of the boys yet unseen and thank God for an understanding management and producer who let me have it.

3. Gabe bled during the first dance routine. One day he can shed light on that, but to this day I’m uncertain as to how one cuts themselves in the middle of a dance. At the same time he’s a champ and did the whole day while having the flu.

4. On this shoot we hit the camera, dislodged parts of it, shook it, kicked the tripod, leaned it over, and shook the dolly to get some of the looks I wanted to for the video.

5. Dana is Mr. Prankster. I had general “Don’t do __________ today” rules for everyone on set and the boys. Dana’s list was a bit longer and more personalized. He’s a prankster, jokester type…I was afraid of what could happen. I limited him cause I have the same personality and know what he could possibly do.

6. Immediately after each performance the band would run to the side to stand in front of a giant fan and guzzle a bunch of water. Somehow we only work on unseasonably warm days, and A/C was rough in this studio; and I made sure everyone wore a jacket as part of their wardrobes. I’m surprise no one had a heat stroke.

7. We had an angel on set (Elana) who baked cookies and brought them over. They are THE BEST!!!

That’s all. I really fans from the band enjoyed the video, I wanted to give you something different, mature, darker, and more artistic.



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Frenchie Davis Record Cover

Frenchie Davis is about to release her debut record and the first art work of her professional career is from a photography session we had recently. Here is your first look at the cover.

Walid Twitter.

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