I hear a song. I read a book. I see a man jumping over a puddle with an umbrella in hand. A woman looking at half her reflection in a skinny mirror. A kid balancing on a fire hydrant to make his shadow play with the stamp of a tree left by the sun on the sidewalk.
Then I close my eyes, while sitting on a train or on a park bench and see a woman slightly hovering over a zebra crossing, despite the heavy weight of her shopping bags.
And a cloud that stubbornly follows each and every movement of that man, the same guy who was puddle hopping earlier.
And the tree’s shadow is now playing with the kid’s.
It is during these daydreams that I translate the world around me and come up with my visual stories. I layer them on top of reality, sprinkling optimism and happiness by
recreating the world around me with these imaginary slices of life.
I then draw them, image by image. Sometimes on a piece of paper, or a paper napkin in a café, and sometimes on my computer’s tablet, using Photoshop.
The photographic process can then start: I plan the gathering of all the picture elements needed to build the images that already live in my mind’s eye. I contact the team, assistants, stylist, makeup artist and hair stylist. I send them my drawings and encourage feedback, because to me, the idea is the focus, and the images the result of a creative collaboration that makes the whole process fun and enjoyable.
These images are therefore snapped way before the camera sees them.
And the magic that sometimes happens on the day of the actual shoot is the spice in my picture soup.
The day of the shoot, my part is to make sure I collect all the visual elements in the best possible way, they will become the building blocks for my images.
This process leaves little room for improvisation since we follow my drawings to make sure we capture all the needed.
Since I either do the montaging work myself or work really closely with my retouchers, I know what and how to shoot to keep some realism.
Contrast between the real and the unreal is what I look for.
As a child growing up in a war, I adopted a denial based vision that made it impossible for me to see the ugly reality of the war.
This self defense mechanism evolved to become this way of translating reality into a kind of enhanced, more beautiful reality, one that is invaded by different impossibilities.