For Women's History Month we want to have a closer look at the work of aspiring female photographers. In what way does gender influence art? How do they themselves experience working in the male-dominated business of photography? French photographer Eléonore Tisseyre inspires us with her poetic approach to the female body. Discover what influences her and gain insight on her most recent work in this interview.
Hello Eléonore, we are enchanted to greet you at Lomography! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, thank you for this! I am an art director and graphic designer in the fashion and beauty fields. I am from Paris but I currently work in New York at a creative agency. Next to this, I do photography as a means to have fun and to create images free of marketing constraints. I shoot analogue and digital, with a certain need to photograph the female body, its movements, and still life, whether they be classical and floral or more absurd with objects of my everyday life.
What do you like the most about analogue photography?
Growing up with digital, I have thousands of unclassified photos on my computer. We shoot constantly, it is reassuring. With analogue photography, we have to focus more, we limit ourselves and as a consequence, the result is a sharper and purer version of the capturer's moment. It is always a surprise when the film gets developed, sometimes it doesn't work out, but sometimes it's fabulous. Indeed, it is this risk of not knowing what to expect with a film that could limit anyone doing analogue photography! The grain and little light accidents that occur in analogue hold a crazy charm.
What inspires you?
I follow what happens in photography but also in art, illustration, design, music, fashion, decoration... I try to do as many exhibitions, art libraries, or visit visually intriguing spaces, whether it be a restaurant with new interior design or a floor tiles boutique. The work of my creative friends is also very good and very motivating.
Otherwise, I assiduously read the fashion/beauty editorials of Jean-Baptiste Talbourdet for M Magazine du Monde, they are very relevant. I also follow cool magazines such as Novembre, Purple... and Instagram obviously, to stay up to date and see the emerging trends.
Which photo are you the most proud of and why?
This nude showing a sort of body roll. I adore the fact that I could capture this movement, a bit gracious and a bit strange. I find it very soft, almost surreal, and at the same time very raw, very human. When I create still life with objects, I can be a bit of a control freak, obsessed with each detail of the composition with a basis of transparent tape and blu-tack. In this case, it's the contrary as I trust the other and the natural approach they have to their body and it is finally as graphic and controlled.
Your last project, titled cruelles fleurs has fascinated us. Could you explain to us this link between the body of a woman and nature?
The Cruelles Fleurs projects told the story of a woman who became an object under the external gaze. She would then transform herself into a still life, a frozen statue under this image the other person has or would like to have of her.
Human beings have this tendency of appropriating others when they desire them, they project their fantasies, without worrying about his/her will, identity. By reflecting on this notion, we can quickly reach fatalist conclusion that there is a desire of possession in each human relation, especially with regard to "the beautiful".
There is then an evident comparison to be made between two elements that are desired by men and that they tend to wish to freeze in time in order to keep for themselves, that is to say the body of a woman and flowers, fresh or dried, that are cut and put under cellophane, ready to be gifted. At first flattered and innocent, ideals of beauty, then always stunning but asphyxiated, and finally broken, hurt, trying to find themselves again, to become nature again...
I invite you to visit this link to find out more about the project: www.cruelles-fleurs.tumblr.com.
You seem quite close to your models. Do you think that this intimacy influences the final result of your photos?
Yes, as I am quite a timid person, it's necessary for me to feel comfortable, in a "comfort zone" in order to experiment. Also, when I don't photograph others, I do a lot of self-portraits. I feel the need to be in constant research, find an understanding of the intimacy of the subject I photograph, and I think it can be sensed in the photographs.
What do you think of the place of women in today's society?
Things are changing, it's better than before but still complicated. To focus on the positive aspects, I have the impression that women now have an active artistic, potentially political voice to speak about her and her position in society, her evolutions without needing to "fight" in order to be heard. For example, we can see Slutever express herself without limits on her lifestyle and her femininity in a large audience show on Netflix (Easy). In the same way, there is a young woman on Instagram, she has a great aesthetic, she wears the veil, has a strong community of followers and offers a completely different vision, as personal, as exposed, of what it means to be a woman today. Perhaps this is the positive evolution that we are seeing: being able to show ourselves as we want to, woman or not, extreme or soft, with or without a message.
As a creative woman finding herself behind the lens, do you believe there exists something such as the gaze of a woman in photography? Do you think the results are different?
No, I think the only thing that changes behind the lens is the sensibility of each, without distinction regarding the sex of the genre. By generalizing a bit, it is true that in western education we receive, the girl is often lead to a position of the observer, more in the background, as compared to boys. She is also guided towards activities that are more calm, artistic, that leave enough space for analysis or the development of a sense of detail. Maybe this sensitivity in the gaze, her visual curiosity is stronger for a woman. On another note, I avoid any kind of sexualization of the female bodies, as it does not follow the message that I'd like to spread, and this is directly linked to my life-story as a girl.
Other than the results, what position do you think women have in the domains of art and photography?
I am under the impression that when the work of an artist/photographer is brought forth, it is always followed by details concerning her sex. However, there is no precision when we speak of a "man artist/photographer". If it does come from a good intention to show the talent of these women, it also points out that we still have the need to insist on this specificity of "sex" to elevate these women artists to the same "level" of recognition... it is a bit unfortunate.
What is the nicest compliment you have received regarding your work?
That it was poetic and that it held a story, in addition to a certain aesthetic. As I constantly strive to not only make nice images but also nice images that have a meaning, this compliment has touched me!
Do you have any advice for the women that start out as photographers?
Don't think too much. We lose a lot of time thinking, predicting and in the end, missing a lot of opportunities of shooting amazing things as we reflect too much, we compare ourselves to others, we avoid a certain natural et then we become paralyzed, and produce nothing. It's a shame.
Finally, do you have any upcoming projects?
I have bought a cyanotype kit recently and I am eager to experiment with it when I'll have more access to the sun!