ROXY HERVE – Interview

ROXY HERVE – Interview

I’ve started exploring photography with models a few years after I graduated from Central Saint Martins. It allowed me to develop a part of my environment / universe that painting did not capture as well. That way, I can explore the human form and its environment more accurately and in a deeper way. By playing with nature and colours, I try to recreate the surreal touch that is sometimes in front of you when you open your eyes. I found out that most of the time, there is this feeling of unity that emerges from this game I play with people and my camera. Unity between two bodies or unity between an object and a body.

I don’t only work with professional models. I sometimes feel like “normal” people who have never posed before are much more beautiful than models. For example, I’ve started a big project about photographing lovers in their intimacy. I think this kind of approach brings my photos closer to the most beautiful and natural aspects of reality. With objects, plants, colours and body shapes, I try to deform and twist things as much as possible to make the human shape disappear and appear again. I guess it all comes down to this: making the surreal look natural and making the natural look surreal.

First of all I would like to ask you how did your “Lovers” project started.

A few months ago a Parisian couple contacted me to take photos of themselves in their bed.  Having not done these kind of shoots before, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. We arranged a date to meet in their flat in Paris. When I got to their place, they were very welcoming and they soon started talking to me about their intimate couple life. We had a few drinks and mostly just talk about their relationship and then finally ended up in the bedroom doing the photo shoot. I loved the experience of it and the outcome, from there, I knew I had to continue on meeting lovers in their flat.

What’s different about photographing couples rather than a single person? What do you like most about this project?

What I enjoy the most about the project is meeting complete strangers and building that confidence between the lovers and me. I always think of myself as someone a bit awkward and having them telling me that they feel comfortable rolling around naked in their bed whilst I take picture of them standing on top of them is very nice. So, yes, I guess the trust is number one.

I’ve also always like hearing random people’s stories.  So having a complete stranger talk to you about their intimate love life is great and comforting!

How do you choose your models? Are they people you know or do you meet them through the project?

Most of the time I meet the lovers through putting adds for the project but I did have a few friends who were interested in the project and wanted to take part in it… which wasn’t uncomfortable at all!

I don’t really do a pre-selection of the lovers, as I don’t know them, I do not know what to expect, every lovers have got their own way of being , moving and you only realize that once we do the photo shoot but… that’s what is exciting!

What is your creative process? Do you plan ahead your shoot?

For the lovers project a lot of planning is talking to the couples beforehand. Once I get to the lovers’ flat  I most of time introduce the project, after what I then ask them questions about their relationship and get them to talk to me about their life. After “having set the mood” I ask them all the same question individually: ‘could you describe in detail the moment where you realized you liked the other person”. It is such a personal and evocative question that they usually tell each other intimate confessions that they’ve never told one another. But from that point, I leave spontaneity take over!

What’s your future plans for the project. Will there be a book or website dedicated to it?

Ideally I would like to have an exhibition for this project, where sound and photography would meet. And of course definitely a website. Maybe a book? But not sure about the last one!

What other projects are you working on?

I’ve also been working on a project on unity between women and nature. I walk around in forests and take pictures and then take portraits of women. I really like the combination of the woman’s body and the dark solitude and roughness of a forest.

How do you process your films?

Unfortunately right now I go to a shop that processes the films for me but I’m thinking of building a dark room in my laundry room in Paris.

What do you like most about film photography?

What I love about film photography is the making of the image. I never edit the photos after therefore I usually try to make the scene “perfect’ before shooting. But of course, if you choose to shoot with film, you’re not 100% sure of what the result will be.

I like going to pick up my photos and that feeling of excitement that I get when discovering the outcome of the photos. It’s like that Christmas feeling that you used to have when you were a child.