It all started many many years ago, one cold afternoon, in an art shop in Paris’ Saint Germain. My love for the blissful illustrations by Anne-Julie Aubry, the French artist who draws while dreaming. The first card I bought, La Sorcière Noire, stayed with me year after year in my Moleskine … and in my heart. And it was on a flight back from the very city of Paris, last autumn, while I was searching my journal for the boarding pass … that I came across that beloved card once again — and I got the idea.
The first time I saw the woman Anne-Julie creates from the darkness and brings into the light of her surreal worlds … I was mesmerized by that sense of wait, and the feeling of suspense it gave me … because that's exactly what I aim at with photography, in my own fashion. After all, what is a photo, but a way to leave something hanging in time … and in silence … forever ?
The second time I saw the woman Anne-Julie brings to life, inspired by her own dreams and by the exquisite, creepy, charming symbolisms of nature … it was when I met Valentina. Not only does she remind me of the girl in the illustrations, but she also possesses an extraordinary ability to express the playful side which is in all of us, and the fierceness to show our pensive, dark side at the same time.
That was how I came to the idea of a shooting based on Anne-Julie’s acclaimed work, and specifically on some of her wintery subjects. So when the time came to discuss her shooting, I proposed Valentina to portrait her as the center of that fantastic universe I so admire in those drawings. She loved the idea, and I am so grateful to her for allowing me to try experiment something new. And while the atmosphere and the lighting in an illustration are of a very different nature from a picture, I loved the challenge. Even if it meant working with studio lights — that some of you may know I’m not a fan of, and will use only when I am forced to. Even if it meant having to deal with the quietness of the winter light – so different from the bright sun which I use in my backlit portraits, but still very interesting as it calls for softer, more posed photos.
So … a big thank you to Valentina !!! for entrusting me with her portraits, and for taking this tour around Anne-Julie’s fantasy with me. I can’t wait for the second round of the shooting in a few weeks, and for more photos … more dresses … more dreams … and more of those laughs she has that burst from her heart. Warmly echoing around the studio.
Il Ventaglio, 2013
Il Ventaglio, 2013
Blackbird, 2006 – Merlo, 2013
La Sorcière Noire, 2008
La Strega Oscura, 2013
And now, to the much heartfelt credits …
… for the incredible hair & make-up, the strength and flexibility, and the general fun around the set : Paoly ®
… for the beautifully crafted frames : Bubola e Naibo —The Italian Frame
… for her amazing work, her inspiration, her kindness : the artist, Anne-Julie Aubry, whose fabulous products you can find at The Nebulous Kingdom