Written by Walter Grio
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Agency: MMPhotographes (Paris)
* Arana Poveda (Madrid)
* Sophie Maree (Holland)
SUPERGIRL (1 – 5)
I LOVE YOU MOM (6 – 10)
HOUSEWIFE (11 – 15)
LA BELLE ET LA BETE (16 – 20)
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
When I was young, I had fun making little movies with my sisters and my cousins. I’ve always loved telling stories. When I was 13, I followed a year of photography courses in college. We had only two hours per week, but it was the course I learned from the most. I quickly realized what fascinated me was the people.
After starting my studies in advertising, I quickly regretted not having chosen photography. So I decided to take some evening classes. I learned to develop black and white and a bit of theory. I had to stop it to begin my internship in advertising, I’ve been working as an Art Director. I realized that for me only pictures were important, they speak louder than words. So I decided to do what I really want.
I finally continued what I loved the most, photographing people and telling stories in the staging. I have always worked in a very intuitive way.
Of all the photographs you have taken, what is your favorite photograph or photo series?
Very difficult to say… I’m very happy with my “Supergirl” series. At first I had in mind to shoot in a beautiful 50’s house designed by a Belgian designer, but it wasn’t possible. I was very sad because I didn’t want to do it anywhere else… I finally found another location thanks to a friend and it worked very well. I was also very glad to work with this model because of her red hair. It inspired me. Location and casting are very important for me.
What advice would you give to a photographer who’s just starting out?
I think they have to do what they like, even if it’s not in the way of other photographers. I advise them to participate in photo competitions. It can be a good way to get noticed.
Can you take us through the process of what it’s like to do an editorial photoshoot?
I still work the same way. After having an idea, I look for places that can match what I have in mind. It is not always easy, I often have to do compromises and adapt to existing places. For this reason I accessorize my scenes up, to invest the sets of my imagination and my world and get as close as what I had in mind.
I’m working a lot with professional models, but also with actors or friends. It depends on the project. It can be helpful to work with actors because they are more able to convey emotions.
My characters do not exist through their actions because I often put in situations where they are not very much active. What interests me is to give them substance, not by what they do, but by the situations and settings in which they are located, through accessories and various objects, which also define them. One way to translate it more is how people are judged by their attributes. My photos are like a movie scene, it captures a moment of a story already begun. The character is at a crossroads.
What inspires you to do what you do and what inspires you to keep doing it?
I certainly find inspiration in movies. I love Wes Anderson, the fantasy that emanates from his films, through his characters and their offbeat style, the attention to detail he shows in the development of its decorations (such as wallpaper depicting the history of the Royal Tenenbaums or paintings on the Darjeeling train). I also like very much old movies at the time of golden age Hollywood studios, for example “The Ladies Man” by Jerry Lewis. In this film, the house in which the action takes place is presented as a movie set, removing the wall of the home and offering a sectional view, the camera moves from room to room and has comprehensive plans in which we can then observe what is going on in several rooms at once. The home becomes a doll house, returning the characters to their fictional side. This is a very long time that I dream of a series inspired by this film.
I’m also inspired by photographers like Erwin Olaf or Gregory Crewdson, for their work on light, directing, their very aesthetic side of their pictures, each one is perfect. I like the way they have to magnify ordinary places. What I prefer is the elaboration of detailed sets, which are often fully recreated. I feel a very strong influence from cinema, especially in Crewdson’s work. I did a series inspired by a famous painting, I think we can see something everywhere that give us some inspiration and desire to continue.