This March, we put the spotlight on female photographers on our magazine ! We seized this opportunity to discuss with French photographer Pascale Arnaud. Laureate of Prix Picto de la jeune photographie de mode (Picto Price for young fashion photography) in 2017, she talks about the representation and the role of women in photography. Discover her answers to our questions et her photographs without further delay.
Hello Pascale, we are enchanted to greet you at Lomography! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello ! I'm a photographer, I'm 24 years old, and I live in Paris.
How did you start photography and how it is important for you now?
When I was 14 my sister started to take pictures. I wanted to do the same as her and I then never stoped ! Today, photography is my job, and above all my passion. It's a vocation-dedication, photography always keeps my mind busy.
What inspires you?
For my personal series, the main sources of my inspiration comes from what I lived and what my loves ones experienced. As I see it, all photographers get their inspirations in part from their feelings and experiences, consciously or not. Even in Fashion photography that I practice a lot, a photograph is in a way a self-portrait. It's something that we discussed a lot with photographer Paolo Roversi when I was his assistant after I finished my photography studies. His work and the poetic way he talked about this art is a great deal to me.
We are discussing today on the occasion of Women’s History Month. Your series Figures and Emerging Adulthood shows the diversity of bodies and the complexity of the affect, in particular in the representation of the female body. Why did you start this photographic projects?
My first serie about this theme was Emerging Adulthood, shot in 2017, showing different experiences in the period between teenage-hood and adulthood. Back then, I was in the same phase and it was essential to express our relationship with our own body. This is an important and complex theme for me.
For my serie Figures, I photograph the naked bodies of different types of women, without any selection criteria. I try to make all bodies poetic and pictural in their complexity, their diversity and their complexes. It's an ode to the beauty of the imperfect, to the so-called defaults that are not ones. Theses images summarize very well my way of approaching women and their bodies in all my photographs.
There is a certain gentleness in your photographs. A captivating softness that doesn't outshine the subjects you photograph but that seems to emphasize them. Could you tell us more about this?
For my personal works, I often take pictures of my loved ones. Regarding my fashion photos, I mostly photograph people who are not mannequins but people with a particular beauty that inspires and fascinates me. This gentleness that springs it surely the reflection of my way of looking at them : I see them as muses.
Let's get technical, what camera(s) do you use ? Do you make any special post-production ?
I mostly use a digital Canon 5D camera. Some of my series where shot in analogue but it's quite occasional. When I photograph some models, I try to capture interesting faces and bodies expressions. I made them talk, move, dance. For all these reasons, the digital works well with my practice because it allows my to take a lot of photographs so my model can feel at ease until I get the strongest image. I also give high priority to to colours, contrasts, moods for the treatment of my pictures. I often create series mixing colours and black & white, the contrasts between the two is very important to me.
The female body is often subject to a pressure coming from the medias, the industry and censorship overwhelms it a bit more everyday. What do you think of this situation? Do you have any ideas of what we could do?
It' exactly why I did series like Figures et Emerging Adulthood. I hope that, in my own small way, it can help women to accept their bodies as it is and to realize that beauty is in the imperfection, in the diversity.
Things are changing little by little, brands are starting to choose more and more singular mannequins and neglect classical beauty. Non retouched bodies are more and more shown... but we are slowly moving forward and it's very occasional changes. I'd like to be part of this new generation who tries to make things move and who overcomes diktats.
As a creative woman, what is your experience of the cultural and art world? Do you feel like genre is important? Do you have any negative or positive experience to share with us?
I don't really feel this in my everyday work. Maybe because I'm at the beginning of my career and I'm then not very often faced to the misogyny of this world. But for me, the difference in treatment between women and men is everywhere in society, and so in the art and cultural world too, in a more or less insidious manner.
As I see it, one of the reason is the lack of legitimacy felt by a lot women who were taught to always revaluate themselves, me included.
Do you have any advice for the women that start out as photographers?
Stop to the impostor's syndrome ! The lack of trust in themselves pushes a lot of women to not feel legitimate in case they have fairly the capacities. I try to follow this advice myself even if it's not that easy. But to my mind, it's important to make things change.
As women, we can create artworks that represent us in a positive way. We are not any more the object photographed by man, but the person taking pictures and showing what's her point of view about being a woman in 2019, an empowered woman wondering about genre, and who has feminist beliefs.
What are your projects for 2019 ?
The injunctions imposed to women are mostly due to genre stereotypes which are finally also imposed to men. This is why I'm now focusing my work on genre. I would like to show that beauty in the mix of genres, in the ambiguity and to think outside the box "woman" and "man" would be fruitful. Multiple projects are coming about this subject, notably a fashion video that I shot... stay tuned !
Thank you very much Pascale !