Childhood puzzles

Someone gave me one day a box of pictures. They were bad photographs, snaps, mostly taken in an artist studio and representing unfinished garment creations on vintage mannequins.
The person offering me this gift knows that I sometimes need material for my own creations and thought these pictures could be useful at some point.

A rainy and cold Sunday afternoon, I started a little workshop. Inspired by the subject on these images, I started creating my own garment out of these pictures.
I had fun doing this, and ended up with a strange and unique west coat.

While making it, I remembered a story I use to read when I was young.
“Donkey Skin” , from Charles Perrault, is the story of a King who promised his dying wife he would never marry a woman more beautiful than her. Sadly, as the Queen was the most beautiful woman, the King didn’t find any woman that would fulfil his promise, unless his own daughter. Under the pressure of his advisors and his entourage, he finally takes the awful decision to marry her.

The Princess, full of sadness and despair, went to find her Godmother and cried for help. Her Godmother advised her to ask her father for impossible request, as a condition to their union. One of these request in a dress “colour of time”.

As a child, even though the dress is described in the story, I could never visualise how this dress could be.
But today, I understand. What could symbolise the concept of Time better than photography ?
A photograph is literally the capture of a fraction of second, or more, on a piece of paper.

I created this dress from a fairy tale in the form of a west coat, in my bedroom, became a child again and solved one of my childhood puzzle.

If you want to read the end of the story “donkey Skin”, here is the original story.
You can also watch the movie “Donkey Skin”, directed by Jacques Demy and starring Catherine Deneuve.

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The idiot beauty

During the previous month, I have been modelling for some talented photographers and friends of mine. It was mostly fashion shoots. I would like to share my thoughts and feelings about this strange experience.

Modelling is harder than most people think. Holding a pose on high hills is sometimes quite a challenge and following instructions from a photographer is often difficult. I learned a lot from this, as a photographer. It will be very useful in the future when I will be working with models. I now know what they feel.

A strange thing happens when photographing someone. Photographing a model for a fashion shoot is completely different from doing portraits for example. In a portrait shot, the photographer most of the time tries to get the humanity of the subject. The person being photographed needs to give a feeling of who he/she is. In a fashion shoot, the inverse happens. The model has to become someone else, has to act. Humanity is not necessary in a fashion shoot, the model is only wearing the dress as a mannequin would do. The model becomes an object, a false reproduction of reality.

As I am someone quite natural generally, I don’t wear make up and prefer to wear comfortable clothes than stylish garments. During these shoots, I was heavily made up, as customs seem to require in fashion. People around, photographer, assistants, kept saying to me how beautiful I was. When looking at their images, I feel beautiful but as a false beauty. The person on the images is not me. She is an actress wearing a costume. She is beautiful, but in a contrived, almost commercial way.

It made me think about the concept of beauty in society today. Photography is a large peddle of our beauty “clichés”. I recently read an extract of the french book from Sophie Cheval, a French psychologist, called Beautiful otherwise, Ending the tyranny of appearance. She explains that researchers had made an experiment. Four to five participants had to look through thousands of identity pictures and mark them according to their own criteria of beauty. The result is that in 70% of cases, participants were attributing the same mark to the same photograph. This means that our vision of beauty is relatively uniform and transmitted by photography most of the time, through magazines, newspapers, TV and movies. Beauty is not a subjective concept anymore.

Where come from these criteria about beauty ? To understand this, I had to look back in time. In the 16th century for example, in Europe, beauty was all about forms and pale skin. At that time, Europe was poor and people were working in fields, getting sun all day long. The beauty at that moment was in opposition to the lifestyle of most people consisting of misery, illness and hard working. Woman were beautiful in a way because they could afford to eat well and to stay in.

Today, we are living in a society of  stress and abundance. In Europe and North America, most people work in offices and get short holidays. We are in constant contact with tempting food. Beauty today is still in opposite to most people lifestyle. To make it simpler, a beautiful woman is thin and sun tanned, because she is showing by her appearance that she can resist food temptation, can afford to get a lot of free time to take care of herself and earns enough money to go on sunny holidays.

If you want to have look to my friends fashion pictures, here are the links to their blog and website :

Richard

Katerina

Gokhan

Linda

 

Hidden Rivers

I am very proud and happy to invite you all to the final show of the BTEC National Diploma of Photography from Kensington and Chelsea College !

The private view is on the 17th of July 2014 and all photographers will be there to present their work done during this very busy year. It will be a great place to meet emerging photographers and to discover new talents. The show will be on for a week so feel free to pop up and have a look !

Here is the exhibition catalogue.

Don’t know how to get there ? Have a look on this map !

 

My inner child

 

This is a very personal creation symbolising my thoughts about closeness and childhood.

Having a baby is, for most of us, the ultimate point of closeness between two people. But a baby is also for me the symbol of another strong proof of closeness.
Sometimes, when spending time with someone, one self can have a feeling of how this person was when being a child. Being able to communicate with this inner child can offer playful and creative moments, but also gives a understanding of the feelings of each other.

I am constantly in a quest to find my inner child. I found a way to communicate with her, which is through photography and art in general.

Allow yourself to have fun and free yourself up from the adult world.

Romantic fashion

 

I had the great opportunity to photograph a dress designed by Melissa Buchler, a young and talented fashion designer. The photo-shoot was great, we all had a lot of fun. I also had the chance to work with the photographer Indre Marcinkute who was my model for the day.

 

Photo etching

Photo etching is also known as photogravure. It is an interesting process, invented in the early age of photography. It was very useful at that time, because it gave the possibility to reproduce an image more than once. Creating a negative, which takes the form of a metalic plate etched in acid, is long and fastidious, but once this is done, the printing process is fast. It was used a lot by artists  from the Pictorialist movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Later, this term is also used to describe some similar commercial printing processes.

Photo etching gives huge creative possibilities. The image can be printed on any kind of paper but also on fabric and other different services. It also allows to create effect when using the ink, or by the use of colour or by the way the ink is applied. Collages are possible as well, using a technique called Chine-collé.

These four images above and below are some prints I have done in May 2014, using photo etching.

Double exposures

These eight images are from a series called “double exposures” that I created between February and March 2014. They are analogue photographs, taken with a medium format  camera, and I printed them by myself in a darkroom.

I have always been fascinated by the work of Man Ray and his “rayograms“. He was experimenting a lot with processes and I think this is what photography is all about. I also love the Jerry Uelsmann’s work, who is a specialist in combination printing and multiple exposures.

Inspired by their work, I decided to create a series of eight images, which would be achieved by using different process of multiple exposures. I did a lot of experiments and really enjoyed spending time in a traditional darkroom. All the magic of photography reveals itself in that place. Seeing the image appearing on the paper when developing the photograph provokes a feeling that can only be experienced there. It is very exciting and intriguing.

I said “magic”, when it is actually very scientific and precise and it reminds me that people who invented and start experimenting with photography, as Fox Talbot among others, were originally scientists, but were also seen by the public as magicians. It is a bit how it feels when working in a darkroom. Photographers all know there is a scientific reason behind this process, but they are all still carried by this illusion of practicing an unbelievable magic trick.