Paris based photographer Fabrice Mabillot – “a photographer of girls…and of somewhere else” as he calls himself – is well known for his recognizable intimate style of portraying the woman. His latest photography book “Filles”, published in June 2014, is a visual anthology of his aesthetics. Read our conversation with Fabrice about his book.
By Charo Galura
Hello, Fabrice. Please, introduce us to your book and how it was conceived.
French photographer and publisher Claude Nori (Édition Contrejour) contacted me for a meeting. I showed him my work and he told me: “Let’s make a book together!”
It is an honour to be published by Contrejour, a well known and recognized name. Claude Nori and Contrejour editions have been very active in the world of photography in France. We’ve worked for two years on this project and finally it is born!
The title of the book is clear about the content, but we also find some landscape pictures inside. Do they have a specific meaning, regarding both the selection and the way they are placed in the book?
We may occasionally experience a lot of emotions in front of a landscape or a detail, just as much as we do in front of a human face.
These images are also part of my world and they let you “breathe” a little inside the book.
What has always captured me about your photos, is their timeless nature, or non-time as I’d rather define them. There’s a picture in the book, a number suggesting a hotel room. As an element and for its colors, this seems to be a homage to 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004). It appears that you’d like to project your pictures in a future place where memories won’t be lost, just like in the movie. Therefore I would like to ask you, which relationship stands up between your photography and time?
The passage of time is my obsession, and I’m so terrified of it…
I like the idea of staring at a picture of mine 20 or 30 years after to see what has been made yesterday.
You said you choose “erotically dazzling” models, but some of them look quite melancholic, soft and natural in their non-poses, or quite shy and bent in themselves as they’re hiding timidly from the lens. Other portraits also look like paintings, quite familiar to the Renaissance and the Flemish school. What is eroticism to you?
I really don’t know how to answer this question. Eroticism is not something well-defined to me. Could be a smile, the color of the skin, a curve, breasts… I don’t know.
And how do you relate with models when you shoot?
Nothing is really set. We talk a lot, about everything and nothing. I create a climate of confidence, making sure that everything is as natural as possible. I take what the model gives me. I can help a little without imposing: I suggest, I accompany.
Still about models, I notice a tendency on shooting Asian women. In my opinion, this strengthens the non-time peculiarity of your pictures, as Asians carry an enduring youth with their look. What fascinates you about Asia?
(Smiles). I’ve never thought about it in this sense, but there could be a connection. Maybe their proportions, the color of their skin, the way they pose…
Time and non-time. Memories. Do you have a specific memory or a little curiosity for us readers, that you remind of while flipping through the pages of your book?
No particular story. There are pictures that have been made in very few minutes, 5 sometimes, just the time to take the camera. And I’m always surprised that beauty and emotion of an image have nothing to do with the time that we spend to do it.
From indoors to outdoors, but always with that touch of intimacy, which erases the distance between voyeur photographer and photographed subject. How do you choose your locations?
It all depends on the place where I am. A white wall and a window are enough for me to shot a portrait.
Let’s move to more technical questions. Analogue and digital. How do you choose to use one instead of the other and which relationship do you have with the photographic medium?
I use a lot my digital camera for all that is commissioned, for my commercial work. For my personal work, I love using film, Polaroid, and the surprise that goes with it …. There’s always something. I think this is also an aspect that gives my images that timeless touch.
From blue to pink, going through black&white. These colors dominate your photos, but always with pale tones. What kind of mood do you wish to create?
I love the softness of natural light, transparency, chiaroscuro.
It is quite obvious that your pictures attract a male audience, but maybe the female audience follows your work even more. Someone thought you were a female photographer. This is kind of interesting, how could you explain that?
I do think that most of my audience is female. Girls identify themselves in my pictures. I’ve been told so and written many times. I’m very proud. I can’t explain it. Maybe there’s a feminine side in me that expresses itself in my “art”.
I know you’re a great music lover. Which song would you choose to accompany the pictures of your book?
Casta Diva – Maria Callas
To purchase Filles, please visit: http://www.fabricemabillot.com/filles.php
You can view more of Fabrice’s work here: