How did you first get into photography? What inspired you to pick up a camera?
I grew up with a mother who used to take a lot of photos. Every moment with friends or when travelling, she would take pictures. I always saw her with a camera. And when she passed away, she left boxes full of photographs. So perhaps this influenced me in a way, even though I was not interested in photography when I was a teen.
I started to pay interest in it when I came to Paris as a student. At that time, I discovered graffiti art and architecture. I had a Minolta film camera, and I started exploring the city trying to capture the things I liked, but with no specific objective in mind. I remember that I was trying to capture things from different angles than what you would normally go for, with attention to detail rather than large scenes.
But after a while, I felt that that type of photography was too static for me. It was not challenging enough. I needed something that would involve human factors. Around 2014, I noticed a french photographer on Facebook who was shooting sensual photography. It was totally new for me. I loved the natural light, the colours, the angles and the details. I instantly wanted to know more about him and how he practised. I had the chance to briefly discuss with him, and he was kind enough to give me a few tips. This is what started what I do today.
I see you have worked with the Instagram self-portrait artist sips_from_the_edge. How did you meet and start working together?
I came across her page and immediately liked the mood of her work. The way she uses light, the care given to the outfit, the consistency of the work, and the sensuality carried in every picture she makes. So I tried my luck, and we started a conversation. She is a beautiful person worth knowing. When she said she would travel to Paris, we had to make photos together. And I hope that we will make some again in the future.
Where do you get your inspiration for your photo shoot from?
Like many of us, I am exposed to a lot of images on Instagram. When I started that activity, I used to make mood boards from the work of other photographers. It was mainly to show the models my inspirations because when you’re a beginner, you have no work to show. I gradually found my style and haven’t done mood boards for years. When I see a photo of someone else I like, I never think, “I’ll do it next time”. For me, not even trying to imitate is essential; I do my best to stay away from that. Thus, the photos I take on the day of the shoot are never prepared before. I don’t have a plan in mind. Each woman is unique; the daylight on the shooting day is unique, as is the place and the atmosphere too. So I play with all these elements and capture what comes to mind spontaneously. I like to play with the light, with angles. There is no set list of photos to take.
Have you ever considered coming around from the back of the camera and being the model?
I never thought of that. But a woman photographer made me the proposal. I’m thinking about it.
What is your go-to camera and lens when shooting, and how do you edit your photos?
I use a Nikon D850 body. In terms of lenses, I go with 35, 50, 85 and 105 millimetres from Nikon. I frequently change lenses during the shooting. Using natural light only, I tend to shoot with high ISO, 1250 and above, and between f1.8 and f4.0. Regarding the editing, I work in two phases, first in Adobe Lightroom. I tag all the photos that will be retouched. Then, I apply basic editing to end up with a neutral base which I will work with in the second phase that happens in Adobe Photoshop.
Do you go through a specific process when you are editing your photos?
Yes, I apply the same specific process, which I refined over time. It is adapted from the process I learned in Les Gobelins school in Paris: geometry/body cleaning, light density, and colourimetry. Working this way ensures that I will first set up a neutral photo as a base on which I can build. Then I’ll explore different lighting options and finally apply colour or black and white mood. I used classic tools such as healing brush, stamp, fluidity, dodge and burn layers, high pass, curves and some Camera Raw features. I do not use automated tools. It can take me up to 2 hours to edit a photo. I am working with print as an aim, so paying attention to details is key.
Being a professional digital designer, I am used to structuring my work in a per-phase approach, plus paying attention to details is mandatory in my role. So, I apply the same working principles as a hobby photographer.
If you could invent something, what would help you, what would it be, and why do you need it?
If I could, I would invent a piece of software that would allow to change the settings of my camera by voice control. I could ask for a specific aperture, speed or ISO, and the changes would be applied automatically while I am still looking through the viewfinder.
Do you have any interesting/funny/scary anecdotes you could share with us about any shoots you have done (You can leave names out)?
More than an anecdote, I can share a story about a shooting. Years ago, I contacted a woman on Instagram and said asked if she would be OK to do a shoot. She was making self-portraits that I liked, and she was following me and liking my work. She had the desire to make photos with me. But at the same time, they had fears and doubts. Fears about how people would view her and doubts about being able to be naked in front of a man other than her husband. We discussed on Instagram for almost a year before she said, “I am ready; let’s do it.” So I travelled to her area, and we spent the whole day making photos. Everything was natural and fluid. And I could feel that she was deeply happy and touched by the present moment because all her fears and doubts were gone in an instant. That experience was very emotional. And that is exactly the kind of feelings I am looking for. Finally, four years after, we’ll meet again to make photos in 2023…
Say a friend came to you and wanted advice about becoming a photographer; what three pieces of advice would you give them?
Well, it’s not easy to answer because the advice differs depending on the style the friend wants to adopt. Suppose this friend wants to adopt the style I am in.
First, make sure you know why you’re here. On a personal level, what do you expect from your art? And what do you have to offer to your models beyond good looking photos?
Second, just start simple and study. Do not try to achieve complex things from the start. Be humble. Much of what you need to know is available on the Internet. Read and practice the basics. The execution of an idea must be supported by techniques.
Third, listen and speak. Do your best to learn more about your models and understand why they are there. You have the option to establish a conversation with a human being in order to capture this person in a photo that will last over time. It’s a privilege when a woman lets you capture her like this. Be fully aware of this.
Do you have any goals you want to achieve in the next 2 years?
I would like to have opportunities to shoot in wider locations, either houses or apartments. Until now, I always worked in small hotel rooms and now I would like to operate in bigger locations. Big windows, luxury furnishing, or an empty and abandoned shed. I would also like to build projects with other photographers. We would combine our sensibilities and techniques in a common project.