Meet Tariq Tarey, Who Photographed U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty for Columbus Monthly's December Feature

The photographer discusses the techniques and tools he uses to create his intimate portraits.

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly

To shoot the portraits of U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty that appeared in the December issue of Columbus Monthly, we hired Columbus photographer Tariq Tarey, who does portrait work at his Milo Arts studio but is better known as a visual ethnographer who has documented the journeys of refugees fleeing persecution, hunger and genocide. Tarey, who we featured in our May 2021 issue, has photographed emigrants from Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Bhutan and elsewhere. Tarey came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia in 1998.

To create intimate portraits, Tarey likes to use large-format film cameras, including the wooden 4-by-5-view camera with an accordionlike bellows seen in this photo gallery, which records images on silver black and white film, using a process that dates to the mid 19th century. “It’s a very old technology, but the quality is superb,” Tarey says. He uses close-up lenses that allow an intimate rapport with his subjects.

Tarey was pleasantly surprised by Beatty’s “willingness to experiment” during the shoot, trying different poses and backgrounds. “Usually, when I photograph VIPs,” he says, “they don’t have time. Three minutes is what I get. I was like, ‘wait—I can do this? And this?’”

Tarey recently completed and is looking for a publisher for a book about the Yazidis, an Iraqi minority group that was persecuted by the Islamic State group and whom he photographed in a Greek refugee camp in 2015. You can see more of Tarey’s work on his website.