Get creative

How to create and multiply weird creepy hands

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Sometimes, when you want a picture, you need to get your hands dirty. And I mean, for real! 

This picture has a really basic setup (that I use all the time with my self-portraits) 
-One diffused light
-A white wall that I used as a background
-A tripod, (but you could use anything, like a stool, so the camera does not move)
-A remote to trigger the camera
 
-A very patient model (crucial point)
 
So there is NOTHING fancy in here, I like the clean and simple look that gives plenty of space to get creative! 

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For the black hands : 

I had this idea in my mind for a while, and I thought of many different ways to create a mixture that could be used on the skin, without being « too messy ». For example, China ink is A VERY BAD IDEA, unless you want to have black stains on your skin for ten days (trust me on this one, I went to art school  ). Acrylic paint is not really good for the skin and dries very fast so I can’t have this « vinyl » look I’m looking for. I know there are many options in the professional make-up industry, but I want to keep it cheap (and free is even better!). So I used charcoal, which is actually pretty good for the skin, it absorbs all the toxins and I do use it myself as a purifying mask on my face once in a while YES (free beauty tips, you’re welcome), and I mixed it with oil! Like basic oil that I had in my kitchen for cooking! 
 
The mixture was pretty good, not perfect, but I liked the oily look better than water, it’s not as liquid and doesn’t dry at all. It doesn’t stain the skin, and is not toxic for the model, so this was perfect! 
Careful though, IT DOES STAIN EVERYTHING ELSE : we protected the floor, our clothes, but the rags we used after to get rid of the mess are now black forever!
 
(and if by chance, you have a better idea/recipe for that black oil idea, I would love to hear it!)

Once the setting is ready the shooting is EASY :  

We first checked the lighting and the posing, to find something that I loved. Once we were happy, Camille dropped her hand into the black mixture : the hand in front of her is her own! 
Then, I dropped my hand into the mixture as well (and in just a minute, Camille was oiling my entire forearm, we had just unlocked a whole new world in our relationship! OUHW YEAH) 
 
I went behind her and I triggered the camera with my remote (with my not-too-dirty hand), just like any other self-portrait.

Creativity in action !

Creativity in action !

When it was over, I just had to stitch all the photos together into one, in Photoshop, aaaand that’s it ! 
 
Here is a video of the Photoshop process. Real time I would say around 3 hours, skin took half of this and I took a while deciding which element to include or not. I’ll probably do a post (or more!) very soon about retouching, as it is such an important part of the process! 

I hope you enjoyed it, and don’t hesitate to leave me any comment or ask any questions! See you very soon for more experimental/oily/weird projects! 

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How to transform your model into creepy monsters for 10 euros

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One day I decided to buy 5 kilos of modeling clay (it’s super cheap in any arts and crafts store) I felt inspired by the raw material and though that would be cool for pictures. But a few weeks passed by and I couldn’t find anything. Until I spent an afternoon with my friend Camille from Délicate Distorsion, she saw the clay waiting patiently in my studio and asked what my project was. I told her I wanted to do something photography related but was kinda stuck. She told me about this french artist doing weird happenings and events where he just covers himself in clay and it BLEW MY MIND. 

You can have a look at his work, his name is Olivier de Sagazan, he has plenty of youtube videos. I found them haunting, and highly inspiring. I love how he becomes the creator and the art piece at the same time, covering himself in clay. 

Clay is fascinating because this is the most simple basic boring component when it is raw. But it can give you so much freedom to create whatever you want. 

So i contacted my friend Kevin to do a photoshoot : he is a dancer and a wonderful human being. We have a strong artistic connection and he trusts my vision. 

When he arrives at my place, I am telling him right away « I might have a weird idea, are you up to it? »  I am not giving him any more informations, just that I have clay, and I would like him to cover himself with it. Right away he says « this inspires me so much! ». I am letting him bring his own vision into the creative process. He trusts me to bring strange concepts on the table, and I trust him to bring them to life through his body. He has incredible skills as a dancer, and he uses his body to express his art. The first time I photographed him, he danced in my studio and I was literally crying behind my camera because this was such a damn beautiful moment!!! (I know I am such a wuss) 

So I get the setup ready, really simple, one black background, one light, my favorite! It is also a setup that I know will allow him to move freely, I just put a piece of gaffer tape on the floor to give him an indication of where he should stand, and we are good! I also put music to set the mood. For dark moody photoshoots I love Nine Inch nails (some weird dark electronics instrumental) this music resonates a lot with my soul and inspires me to create . 

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This awkward moment you have an almost naked guy cutting clay in your living room

I waited a few weeks before starting the editing process, and then finally came up with the ideas you are seing. I used only the brush in Photoshop and literally painted everything on the picture. The stars/particles are a handmade brush I am using all the time. And then a bit of color correction on Alienskin and we are all done! 

 
 
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I hope you enjoyed seing the process of creating these pictures, and that it inspires you to do something (weird) as well! What is the craziest weirdest photoshoot or ideas you ever had? 

How to develop your creativity in your daily life

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Too often, we get caught up into our daily life, and we don’t realize it fills all the space in our minds : 
 we are always in a hurry in the morning, getting the kids ready, running after our train, not even taking time to eat breakfast, then we are busy answering emails, calls all day long, try to socialize with our colleagues, taking every minutes of our break to check Instagram or Facebook, get back home, remember to do the laundry, eventually cook something, crash from exhaustion in front of Netflix, and start again the next day. Until we die? 


I can find 1000 problems inherent with this crazy modern lifestyle but the one I want to focus here is headspace : Our brains are overstimulated. Thousands of years of evolution brought us here, but the modern life constantly chasing productivity is only a few decades old, and the domination of screens and social medias and notifications are even newer. The truth is we are not designed to process such a big amount of informations. We all know the consequences of the lifestyle : burn out, depression, anxiety, or just constant exhaustion, which became so normal you are not even paying attention to it anymore. 

I think one of the problems is also that we are not allowing ourselves to be creative anymore. 

Creativity does not have to be having a crazy weird concept for a photoshoot : Creativity is the ability to come up with fresh ideas, and to connect informations together to get something new. It is about coming with a solution when a problem arise, it is about taking the time to imagine what you want for your future, or what awesome cake you are going to bake during the week end, it can be about anything! I deeply believe anyone has the the ability to be creative, it is not a superpower, but not anyone is actually leaving enough space in their lives to be creative. 

Why do people have more ideas in the shower? Because they have no distraction, it’s an great moment, no screen, no phone, just you, being relaxed, enjoying a moment. (Fun useless fact : I never have had any ideas in my shower :D ) 

Creativity needs some space to exist, fresh ideas can’t come up if your brain is constantly thinking about your groceries or if you are pissed of by your boss (even if he deserves it!). So here are a few techniques on how to make headspace in your brain to let ideas arise (tested and approved my myself with love!)  

Get organized

Not everything is wrong with our modern life, and the apps are amazing tools that allows us to be more organized and to have some more space in our brains. I just don’t understand people who says they will « remember » this appointment we just made! I mean come on, just write it somewhere, so you don’t have to think about it anymore! Personally, everything that implies me being somewhere or doing something at an exact date goes into my Google calendar. Every ideas I have on the go goes to my Evernote (for example reflexion for this blog, and I am writing this article on Evernote right now). Every ideas for photographs are in notebooks. My groceries lists are on post it (the old school way!). Trello is helping me keeping track of what I have to do for this blog. And I even have a cool app which tells me when I am going to be on my period! (it helps me know right away if the reason that I feel like crap is my hormones having a party! Super useful girls, check it out) NOTHING stays stuck in my brain! All these tools are like assistants taking care of the details of my life so I can focus on my main goal : be present to my life, my friend, and create awesome photographs and content here with LOVE! 


Fun fact : I heard Steve jobs was always wearing the same simple outfit so he didn’t have to think about what he was wearing every morning, so he had more headspace to do something else. He is clearly not remembered for being a fashion icon, but this guys had ideas for sure!

Allow yourself to be bored

Ideas need space to grow, and if you are constantly distracting yourself, no doubt it’s hard for you to get new ones. Everyone is constantly checking his phone, we are not allowing ourselves 5 minutes of just doing nothing, and this Candy Crush thing is not going to help you solve your problems!
Fun fact : some scientist did a cool experiment, people had to wait in an empty room with no more informations that that. They knew they were here for a test, so they were just told they had to wait to get called to start the experiment. All this time the experiment of course started without them knowing it and they were filmed. In the waiting room there was just a box with a button beside them. This specific box was in fact designed to give them a small electric shock each time they pressed it. EVERY one of them touched the button repeatedly even though they get hurt the first time they did : people prefer to feel pain that being bored, this is how much our human brain can’t handle boredom. 

Meditate

I am not a professional of meditation myself : I find this highly intimidating to sit and do nothing even for 5 minutes. Though I try to be more mindful in my everyday life, to step away from my emotions, and to be more present for example when I am walking in the street. I concentrate on the details of the world around me, instead of thinking about 594 stuff. I can see the difference it makes right away on my mood and balance, and I can’t stress enough the power of meditating. You can try it out with and app, there are great : Petit Bamboo in french is the most famous, while Headspace or Buddhify are great for english speakers. 

Find a stimulating environment

When I was a student, I spent all summer working in a bank. And I though I would die. Nothing ever ever would stimulate my brain : I was surrounded by people with no passion, no dreams, everything was grey and sad, this was the worst environment ever, stuck in an office behind a computer doing repetitive tasks with almost no human contact. I can’t think of anything worst, and the truth is it represents most of today’s office job. This is terrifying to me. Later on I was working in an advertising agency and they would put us in a closed meeting room between 2 and 3 pm and expected us to have awesome ideas for a new campaign. No windows, no nothing. No need to tell you it did not work. Nowadays I am going in a trendy coworking space, I chat with inspiring people during my break, they are building their projects on their own, we always share ideas. Sometimes what I though was a 10 minutes wasting my time chatting brought me the solution to the problem I was stuck in for 2 hours. Be careful of who you are surrounding yourself with and where, because it does impact the way you apprehend your world. 

Go on holidays

I don’t know about you guys but when I am travelling and I take a real break, I am happy to rest the first week and eventually after 10 days maximum, I start to get bored of not creating new stuff so I start to get all crazy excited with new ideas again. I usually get enough distance from my daily life to identify the problems, the things I don’t want to do anymore, the things I want to do more, and I always come back home with a plan to start fresh. I am deeply convinced that holidays make me so much productive and help me define my vision. 

Try a creative retreat

A creative retreat allows you to leave your your environment for a while, it can be in your country or anywhere in the world, in the place of your choice. It is not exactly holidays, because you are not chilling or visiting, but all your mental space is dedicated to created something into the perfect conditions. It gets easier to break through your blocks and mental barriers you usually have during your daily life. No one is interrupting you, you can decide to be surrounded by other creative people, it challenges your habits and your vision of the world. For me that’s is just THE ABSOLUTE BEST to achieve big ass projects. 
This is really common with musicians, a lot of bands go rent a house or a studio somewhere, and spend their time doing music everyday and night, whenever they feel like it. I remember photographing the Half Moon run (awesome chill guys!) and they were talking about the process of creating their new album : they rented a house in Canada by the beach, lived altogether for a while, away from the « real » world, went surfing every morning, and spent the rest of the day writing songs. Creating a « bubble »  is the best for big project, like writing a book or building a business because it helps you focus and gives you so much headspace to create your new masterpiece.
I personally built my portrait studio while being stuck in a farm in the middle of Australia, and I am currently writing this article in Bali where I retreated for a month! And these are probably the two times I was BY FAR the most productive in my whole life! One of my dream here is to organize creative retreats so keep in touch if that speaks to your soul! 

So here is this new topic, I am really passionate about the subject and just couldn’t figure a way to write less! Tell me what do you think about this idea? Are you caught up into you daily life? How big is that problem for you? What are your techniques to get more headspace? 

Lots of love as usual <3

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”- Buddha

From concept to creation - Fun with LED lights

For this picture, I will write about the whole process of creation : from the basic idea, to the picture right above (for those interested only in the making-of, don’t hesitate to scroll down!) 

1 – Looking for an idea

As you may already know, I have a real visual relationship with the music I am listening to. During a concert (but most of the time just laying on my floor) I am often starting to visualize stuff, like in a dream, I let the music create a whole universe in my mind. I don’t do it often, but if I am looking for inspiration to create new pictures, this is 85% of the time, how I would proceed to find inspiration! (favorite song for inspiration : Space oddity – David Bowie <3 )  

This is basically what happened there, the only difference was it is a commissioned work: The guys from Wyve need a new artwork for the releasing of their album! Of course, having a picture I created on a CD is a child’s dream, but this is also a huge honor to be the bone that is going to represent their music. (but also A LOT OF PRESSURE). I put myself into « looking for ideas » mode, exactly as I described above. I was listening to their album all the time, and particularly one song « birth » that is also the name of the album. 
  
I sketched more than a dozen ideas, to be able to bring them different choices. When I am looking for ideas, I try not to get influenced by how-am-I-going-to-do-this? thoughts : the technical questions have to come after so it won’t interfere with the creative process.

My wonderful sketches aheum  So, once I have my sketches, I am like « but now, how? »

My wonderful sketches aheum
So, once I have my sketches, I am like « but now, how? »

2 –  Find a way to make this real

I was imagining the light coming through someone’s eyes, he is covering his face, and the light seems to come from his own body. I am imagining the fingers, getting a bit transparent and red, and the rays of light going through the darkness. Technically speaking, it eliminates straight away the speed lights, because they can’t be hidden in his hands. For the place, it’s going to be easy, just a dark room.
 
 Cool, but how do I do it?
  
I’ve thought about it a lot and I remembered I had already seen similar things with light up eyes in movies (like in Midnight Special for example). However, I guess they probably used big special effects and CGI as they usually do in Hollywood (and probably with After Effects), but I don’t really have 10,000 dollars to create my picture. So the other solution I found was to call my buddy Maxime, he’s a Light Engineer and he works in a Theater. He’s the guy you wanna know when you’re looking for a solution that includes light! Well, also when you need Mojitos! Apparently, I need Mojitos more often. Anyway, he told me about mini LEDs Light that could work. I took a look but did not really like the price so I looked for something else! (but it’s still good to know)
 
I went to ACTION (if you don’t know this store, it’s basically the BEST store in the world, where nothing’s expensive), and I started my quest. I got back home with two frontal LED lights (3 euros each), and LED fairy lights, because it’s pretty and can always be useful.
 
I took a bit of time to take to pieces the frontal lights, in order to only keep the LED system and the batteries (next time I go to ACTION, I’ll buy a tiny screwdriver for electronic devices) but a good pliers and 20 minutes were enough this time. The first test is pretty convincing, I can tape the thing in my hands and it’s not noticeable. Regarding the power of the light, it’s not that great, but you really have to test it to be sure.

#macgyver

#macgyver

3 – The shooting! 

I take advantage of the opportunity to have Maxoo around to test it and I’m not satisfied…the light is too white as well. So we take the LED fairy lights to tape it in his hands. The batteries are taped to his forearms, to be honest he kinda looks like a lousy super hero, or a robot in a B series movie! The result is nicer and the light more powerful, so we try to take a few pictures like this. He can’t really move that much, because everything falls, and I try to hide the cables the best I can so I won’t have a lot of Photoshop afterwards.

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I realize that the idea of the eyes is not that great and that the result is way better when he puts his hands close to his body, that’s cool, I’m happy with my picture and I start to edit it!

An overview of the images without retouching, straight from the camera

An overview of the images without retouching, straight from the camera

I edit it, and as I think about it, I realize that something’s missing and that the image could be richer. I decide to add particles, like a sky full of stars, in order to add meaning and depth to the picture. For the particles, I did not know how to do it so I looked up on Youtube. PHLEARN, (a photographer who gives Photoshop lessons) gives me the answer. It’s in English and if you need to make progress in Photoshop, they’re the best Free lessons on the Internet.
 
Here’s my approach overall. In the end, it’s longer to find the idea for a picture and the solution to make it, than to actually make it!

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My favorite most inspiring artists in the whole universe

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I decided on purpose not to say anything about these artists, their backgrounds, etc. But to simply share my favorite images of them. I find that you don’t really need background to feel connected with their art in your own way. You might know some of them already, but If you are curious to know more, I will link for each of them an article so you can still learn more if you want to :)

I think you will see how much they influence on my own work in a way, I have so much respect and admiration for every artist on this list, there is nothing that moves me more than their paintings. They all have a very dark universe, and they are all painters (though some used the photographic medium as well) If I could afford to buy art, these are the ones I would get for sure! I could simply get lost for hours watching them, looking at all the details, and get transported into their dark peculiar universes.

Francis Bacon

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Francis Bacon produced some of the most iconic images of wounded and traumatized humanity in post-war art. Borrowing inspiration from Surrealism, film, photography, and the Old Masters, he forged a distinctive style that made him one of the most widely recognized exponents of figurative art in the 1940s and 1950s.

Read full article here

Gottfried-Helnwein

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“In a world fractured by the war machines of capitalism and exploitation, it is all-too-easy to feel distant from the stories of violence that pervade our media and political histories. However, as the renowned artist Gottfried Helnwein has shown in his courageous and provocative work, it is extremely difficult to ignore the suffering of a child, whose pain and stolen innocence exposes the failure and cruelty of the system.”

read full article here

Nicola Samori

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Nicola Samori’s dark, Baroque-inspired oil paintings are skillful reproductions of classical portraits and still lifes on canvas, wood, or copper, purposefully destroyed to negate classical representation and question painting itself.

Read more here

Zdzisław Beksiński

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A decade after his brutal murder, Zdzisław Beksiński’s paintings hold the world spellbound. Is the universal fascination they evoke the result of their author’s own gruesome tragedies, or did Beksiński simply succeed at capturing the unsettling underside of human consciousness?

Read more here

I would LOVE to know who are your favorite artists of the whole universe? As you can see mines are painters (with twisted minds for sure!), but it can also be photographers, musicians, anyone who inspires you :) 

10 before & afters in Photoshop

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Here are 10 examples of before and afters in Adobe Photoshop! Curated for you, with love! (alright I actually did after / before, just let me do whatever I want :D ) 

When people see me editing pictures (when I am in a coworking space for example) they always want to see the before and afters! I think this is an entertaining part of my job, and I always love to share it! I believe there is a lot of mystery around creation sometimes, and we all loves to see the behind the scenes of our favorite movies! Photoshop has definitely his own magic, especially for fine art photographers, and I am glad if I can help you understand more the process that goes behind creating theses pictures so you can get inspired by it! 

I think it is very easy to achieve really cool results simply if your ideas are good, so here all my secrets! 

Take your innocent niece, have a friend with a creepy hand, a black brush to have Camille’s arm disappear, some color correction and we’re done here!

Take your innocent niece, have a friend with a creepy hand, a black brush to have Camille’s arm disappear, some color correction and we’re done here!

An upside down picture, add darkness, add stars, boom done! (the light was shot on camera, it is a speed light reflecting on the surface of the water)

An upside down picture, add darkness, add stars, boom done! (the light was shot on camera, it is a speed light reflecting on the surface of the water)

Made myself look fitter (express gym session!) changed the hand, added darkness (I do love the darkness!) add stars again, BOOM done!

Made myself look fitter (express gym session!) changed the hand, added darkness (I do love the darkness!) add stars again, BOOM done!

Put a friend in a kid inflatable pool, clean and extend the background, color correction, BOOM DONE!

Put a friend in a kid inflatable pool, clean and extend the background, color correction, BOOM DONE!

Wear this dress you love but never go outside with, extend the background, make it red, HOP!

Wear this dress you love but never go outside with, extend the background, make it red, HOP!

Photograph a friend, do weird stuff on his face, have him be grateful for it : perfect creation!

Photograph a friend, do weird stuff on his face, have him be grateful for it : perfect creation!

Steal a flower in your neighbor garden, stuck it on your face, add hair, extend the background, EASY!

Steal a flower in your neighbor garden, stuck it on your face, add hair, extend the background, EASY!

Go in the middle of a meadow, ignore the cows judging you, clean the background, add birds, color correction, and you’re done!

Go in the middle of a meadow, ignore the cows judging you, clean the background, add birds, color correction, and you’re done!

Tape yourself some flowers around your body, look sad, add more flowers, color corrections and THAT’S IT!

Tape yourself some flowers around your body, look sad, add more flowers, color corrections and THAT’S IT!

Stuck your face in Christmas LED lights, look very proud about it, erase the wires, add geometric stuff, BOOM!

Stuck your face in Christmas LED lights, look very proud about it, erase the wires, add geometric stuff, BOOM!

I have a very few rules in Photoshop, I would say my big one is that I HATE TO CUT OUT, so I always find a way not to do it. For example if my final result is in a black background, I will shoot on a black background, simple, and I am saving myself A LOT of time! 

Also, I think I am spending half of my editing time extending the background to make my picture bigger. EACH DAMN TIME! I think It’s because I always crop it in a weird way. Why not shooting from a bigger distance : firstly I can’t MOST OF THE TIME because I am photographing in a small space, and secondly I don’t want to crop the original photograph because I don’t want to loose quality. While I am extending it, I am making the file bigger, which is nice to have big prints. 

What do you think? Did you imagine it was the work that went into some of these? Do you struggle to achieve your vision in Photoshop? 

These are older pictures, but if you love this type of article, don’t hesitate to let my know in the comments,I will do more of them! 

Are self portraits narcissistic?

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During Sue Bryce fine art workshop, where I photographed a self-portrait in front of the internet audience, someone asked an interesting question : Do you think people will judge you as being a very self centered person? 

I was really surprised by the question, because I never thought of myself like this. I answered that the people who know me won’t think that because they know I am not like that at all. The people who will judge me badly obviously don’t know anything about  me, so I don’t really care what they think. 


I did not start taking self-portrait because I wanted to show my face: I started to take self-portrait because I needed to learn photography! I experimented a lot (and I am still now) and I didn’t want to bother a model everyday. I could have someone once in a week, but not exactly when I wanted, not in the middle of the night, not even in the day when everyone else was working in their daily job. So I started to take pictures of myself. And I realized I had A LOT of things that I wanted to tell in my pictures, and it was my story, so it had to be me in the pictures (maybe not but this is the way I feel). So this is how I started my « self-portrait therapy ». I never stopped, even when I feel like « I am getting to old for this » (slap me, I KNOW) or some day when I just feel like crap and I don’t want to see more of myself.

One of my first self-portrait back in 2014. I remember it as a fun afternoon playing with speedlights in my kitchen while my housemates were at work!

One of my first self-portrait back in 2014. I remember it as a fun afternoon playing with speedlights in my kitchen while my housemates were at work!

Because, yes, when you take a self-portrait, trust me, you can see your flaws. Like all of them, even some that you were not aware even existed! So, trust me it’s not narcissism, because there is no one harder on yourself than yourself. 

So I started to ask myself, it this a normal thing to take self portraits?

What I think is REALLY INTERESTING, is that from all times, artists always represented themselves: there are numerous self portraits in the History of Art, and this, for A LONG TIME (like ancient Egypt paintings and sculptures, ancient Greek vases, etc). Although, it’s really around the European Renaissance (XVth century) that artists really started experimenting with this technique. They are many reasons for self portraits, and one of them was the artist could not afford to pay for a model: we can imagine painting could take weeks and even months, so it was cheaper to buy a mirror and to learn the techniques and train by themselves. (something familiar here mmh). 


Rembrandt is really famous for his dozens of self portraits, and he painted himself all life long. I love his paintings (the guy invented a new way of seeing light, that’s something!)), he is not being easy on him, he represents himself as an old man, and we can feel the texture on his skin and the weight of the years. And I don’t think anyone told him he was being narcissistic, for sure! 

Rembrandt, Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar, 1659.

Rembrandt, Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar, 1659.

There were dozens of artists who played with self-portraits, you can check their work if your are curious about the subject: among them Picasso, of course Van Gogh, Gustave Courbet, Goya, Degas, Delacroix, Renoir, Matisse, etc etc. 


One of my favorite self portrait of all time is from Frida Kahlo : she is a Mexican painter, and had an accident that handicapped her all her life. She had a mirror installed on her bed, just above her, and she painted self portraits. I think she has a really cruel and hard vision of herself, and is she is not representing herself as « beautiful » . She represents her pain and story. (if you haven’t watched the movie about her life, go see it, it’s really great!).

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944.

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944.

I think we are living on a culture where pictures are everywhere, and selfies are just a norm: we are judging girls who takes a lot of selfies, we feel that there is something narcissistic about that, and we don’t really understand the limits between selfies and self-portrait. I mean, even Kim Kardashian has a book of selfies, so is this becoming a new form of art? Or was it always there? Interestingly enough, the first photographic portrait that was ever taken was a self portrait. 

Robert Cornelius, 1839 (!!)

Robert Cornelius, 1839 (!!)

So I would say to conclude (I could talk for hours on the topic), if you hesitate about doing self portraits: DON’T HESITATE. Just do it, people won’t judge you, it’s normal as a creator to explore different things, and self portraits are a great great way to experiment. Plus, if you don’t like the pictures, remember no one has to see them in the end, you only share what you really want to share. 


Bonus : you really needed Andy Warhol self portraits shot with Polaroid films in your day. Don’t ask me why, I just know it  :)

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Clara and the magic of LED lights

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For this shooting, all you need is:

A crack squad :

  • A beautiful Clara who is ok to be naked <3

  • A Camille (Délicate Distorsion), who is really useful to choose the right ferns AND to bring the Kinders AND to create awesome drawings on the pictures (of course :p)

The most expensive props in the world :

  • Ferns  (collected in the closest forest)

Gear :

  • A garland of multicolor LEDs:  you can find them everywhere, I put an Amazon link (20 euros for 5 meters and that’s exactly what we used)

  • A piece a cardboard

  • Scotch Tape

  • A reflector (or a piece of polystyrene board/cardboard/ANYTHING white)

  • A black sheet

  • A canvas sheet (to put under the black sheet in order to protect the floor, we’re not savages!) I had kept the plastic packing from my mattress (I don’t know why, I kinda like it) in case I hadn’t kept it I would have used trash bags

  • A camera of course, a Canon 7D + Sigma 18-35 1,8 mm in that case

For this shooting session, we went for a walk in the forest of Saint Germain en Laye on the previous day, near my home studio (sounds better :D) in order to collect some ferns: we picked up entire plastic bags filled with things we found pretty (waaaah did you see the color?! waaah), while enjoying the last moments of summer to grab some wild flowers. I think we did not see anyone when we got out of a sinuous path with 3 huge trash bags that we stuffed in the car. We got back home and put everything in water to keep it fresh for the shooting the next day.

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On the next day, Clara and Camille join me at home MY STUDIO (damn it!). The first idea was to take nude pictures in the middle of branches, so Camille could draw things afterwards upon them, in order to mix our two artistic worlds. The organic side of the leaves would remind the delicate universe of Delicate Distorsion, that is inspired by nature.
  
We already made a shooting with Clara on the previous year (a crazy story, with underwater picture and an inflatable swimming pool for kids, in the yard of my former house-share, that didn’t even have water mains inlet ANYWAY that’s another story that deserves an article on its own)
 
 
So naturally, we wanted to work again, the three of us, on something creative and experimental, during a girly afternoon in a good atmosphere, without any pressure, theoretically.

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That was before the radio I used to trigger my Flash decided to stop working, just when everything else was ready ARGHH! I think I didn’t even say anything to the girls and that my mind worked at 300 miles to find a solution: I pulled out a garland of LEDs, I had used during the month, a piece of cardboard from a suitcase, I taped 2 pieces of A3 cardboards together, LED lights on the cardboards and we played with that all afternoon! I even taped a ruler on the back of the cardboard so Camille would have a handle to position the lights really close to Clara and more easily while I was taking pictures.

The beast.

The beast.

And, by accident, we have an amazing result! We realize we can play with the colors (which was not planned at all!) and we can create images that are still among my favorites more than a year after! I think I would even thank my CACTUS (which is the thing that was supposed to trigger my Flash Light) because it forced me to overcome the difficulties and to look for creativity, and eventually to experiment something really new.

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I took care of the retouching part in the week (to be honest I didn’t have much to do on these pictures). I sent the files to Camille, she printed them out and then drew on some Rhodoïd paper (the transparent plastic paper we used to put in overhead projectors back in the days, when we were young) with the pictures beneath it. She then scanned the Rhodoïd and put back the drawing on the pictures with Photoshop. And that’s how you have this result!

The images as I gave them to Camille so she could draw on top of them

The images as I gave them to Camille so she could draw on top of them

To conclude, I would say that I loved this shooting, that I love working with Clara <3 she’s an amazing model and for me her personality is really part of the pictures. With Camille, we have compatible artistic worlds and a brainstorming/hot chocolate afternoon with her really gives a spark to my creativity. A year after, by working again on the pictures, I retouched the images with respect to Camille’s drawings. I was really attracted to the colors last year, but to my surprise, I found out that some images were also really interesting in Black and White: it’s more like me, and I think it’s also more like Camille.
  
However, I think that the Rhodoïd step reduce the quality of her drawings, and it doesn’t highlight the meticulousness of her work, and that’s a pity!
So we thought it would be a good warm up, and another shooting is planned, and THIS time we’ll print them on HUGE papers and she’ll draw directly on the pictures! (and they will be original Artworks, which is pretty classy!) I can’t wait to see the result (yes I know, we did not even start :p) So stay tuned if you’re willing to know more about this upcoming project (SPOILER ALERT: there will be a naked Clara :D)
 
Have you already been in a difficult situation with a client? With some gear that doesn’t work? (I cannot be the only one) And more importantly, did you find a solution? It could be interesting to write an article with all the problems encountered by everyone with matching solutions in case of emergency!
 
I hope you liked this article, do not hesitate to let me know what you think about it! 
You can follow this page and share it if you like 
 
See you soon
Bisous

My (not so) secret in creating anything

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Today, I want to tell you a story that was a great lesson I learnt when I was a kid (I still remember it so that’s how you know it was important :D ) 

I was something like 5 or 6, and as a homework, I had to reproduce a painting (I wanted to add something like « this was the good times", but my job right now is not that far away!!) 
I remember it was a landscape of a sunset, with a lot of red and blue, I would probably recognize it if I saw it right now! 

I remember doing it, not rely putting my mind on it, it was done, my homework were done, alright all good, I was going to sleep and go to school the next day. 

My sister (she is 11 years older) came in my room and saw my art peace. Straight away she went : this is bad, you do it again ». I was like « wtf » I had done my homework I could not understand what was wrong, and even worst, I couldn’t go to bed! 

But she took the time to show me what I should have done, she did her own version of the painting so I could see what technique she used. It was not something magical or mysterious : she was putting LOVE in this. She was actually caring about what she was doing, not just doing it for the sake of doing it. I tried and right away it looked SO DIFFERENT. I was blown away by the result, I had no idea I could do something that look this good and I finally had the best grade of all the class. She made me understand this day that it is not about being good at something : it’s about doing it with care and attention, and it does make so much more difference. 

THERE IS NO POINT DOING THINGS JUST TO DO THEM

I think I am seing so many people thinking they are not good enough, they think they don’t have the skills to have good results, they think it’s all just like this and they will never be good at anything. But the truth is, they forget the main ingredient : it’s LOVE! 

I know it sounds cheesy, but it is absolutely true (plus if you know what I am creating, you know I am not such « spark joy » kind of person :D ) 

If you miss to add this crucial ingredient, I think you can not excel in anything you are doing : if you cook, you have to cook with love, because if you don’t, something is going to end up burnt up for sure! But if you put all your attention in what you are doing, then even if it’s not perfect, you gave it all your love, and it shows, and trust me, people see this things.

It is exactly the same in every area, I will photograph people with love, I will treat my models with respect and treat them as my friends, I will have empathy for my client’s insecurities. And when I am doing my retouching, I am not just applying a mask or removing blemishes : I am doing everything with so much care so the result is the best I could have done. And when I deliver the pictures, I even say it out loud « I created this with love, and I hope you are going to love the result as much as I do! » 

And to be honest with you, if I don’t do stuff with love, I don’t see the point of doing them at all :)

I would love to know if you think this is important. Do you already do it in some areas of your life? 

My 10 favorite ways to find creative ideas

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Inspiration IS a big deal for creative people, especially when it’s not there. Everyone has this misconception that artists are really inspired people by nature, that they get this genius lightning of magical ideas coming from nowhere that make them create awesome stuff. Sorry to disappoint but the only secret is that it’s mostly A LOT of work! And I am pretty sure any random person can have awesome ideas if they put some effort in this. So the best way to start is to actively look for ideas. I was lucky enough to meet Ben Harper and I remember him saying that he would sit and write music everyday. He is not waiting to be magically inspired out of thin air, he is not picking his guitar because he is in the right mood : he is picking it everyday, just like any other job, he puts a lot of hard work in this. Most musicians write 100 songs to get a 10 tracks album! So don’t feel discouraged if everything you do is not perfect, that’s just normal, but at least doing it gets you on the right track and leave plenty of room for improvements! 

First thing first : Take the time to actually write down the ideas! Write, them, sketch them, put them on paper, get a fancy notebook, a crappy piece of blank paper, anything, but DO IT. My most prolific times are when I actually force myself to sit with nothing but a blank page and a pen that I find most ideas coming to my mind!

I have SO MANY of these laying around everywhere!

I have SO MANY of these laying around everywhere!

Sometimes it is not that easy, so here are some tips and triggers that I personally use on a daily basis for fresh ideas (and I am almost sorry to say this does not any drugs or alcool  )

  • Friends

Spend some time and team up with other creative people, brainstorm with your creative friends : make up artists, illustrators, designers they surely have a cool project ongoing and they will be more happy to have pictures of it at some point! Book an afternoon with them, everyone brings food, drinks, ideas, and enjoy this moment! 

  • Music

I will lay on the floor with my headphones and listen to music (which must be a weird sight from outside), just letting go and creating a whole world in my head (bonus point if you have musician friends who constantly inspires you so they have cool pictures for their marketing!) Going to concert is awesome! Live music is the best because you can feel the energy of the band and the public around you. 

  • Feelings

Your own emotion at the moment (the crappiest the more inspiring, sad but true  ) : how would you visually represent this feeling? Bonus point here because letting it out is always better for your mental health 

  • Find a muse!

Someone you can shoot who complete you artistically, someone who makes you want to create and allows you to express your art, someone who share your vision and respect it! He/she could be a model, a dancer, your lover, a burlesque artist, a performer, a comedian, even just a random person that you are attracted to for some reason, anyone! PUT HIM NAKED AND SHOOT HIM (ask for consent thought) Many designers have had muses they created uniques pieces for, and artist are painting their favorite model endlessly, because they always had a new story to tell about this person. 

  • Pinterest

I have a huuuge pinterest board that I love browsing from time to time for visual references, it’s a great mood board. It’s very personal but you can check it out if you are curious. I pin everything and not photography related stuff, it’s a lot of contemporary art mostly

  • Going OUT

Exhibitions, looking at art with your own eyes is pretty different than just checking it on the internet (it would be the same as watching a movie streaming on your phone VS going to the theatre!) 

  • Try a new technique

A new light something new, experimenting with gels? Get a new backdrop? Mixing real paint on top of a picture? Experiment with dry ice? Hell yeah! Go a bit crazy! I think it’s the only time I will look for inspiration into other photographer’s work. I often see copies of copies of pictures, and I feel our work is much stronger when we define our own concepts, when we build our own references outside of our industry. That is what will make our work somewhat unique, and truly reflecting our creative identity. 

  • Reading a book/ stories, go see a movie

Just like music, it’s all about training our imagination and our creative eye. How did you imagine this really nice paragraph you just read? expand your own world, feed your mind.

  • Go for a walk in nature

If I spend a lot of time in my studio I get trapped into my own mind. Getting some fresh air definitly brings fresh ideas! (And I am writing this with frozen hands from my phone in a park so it does work!)

  • Location / travelling

You went to a new place that is so cool you absolutely want to go back there and shoot! Going to a new city, visit new country, immerse yourself in a new culture is great to get surprised and excited again!

Bonus

if you are really stuck and your mood is not for creativity, it can happen : learn to rest and to let go for a while. Do something you would never do usually, sometimes you have less pressure to deliver something you don’t HAVE to be good at : For example My illustrator friend Camille takes pictures of flowers and random stuff to get ideas for drawings, my musician friend Maxime had no ideas for new songs so he spent a lot of his time writing a novel (I admit, some people are extreme  ) One day I bought some modeling clay and spent the night trying to do a skull. The result was awful but I had fun :p