Paris-based 24-year-old photographer Andy Julia is a versatile artist whose commercial work has sincere gothic sensibilities, and whose gothic personal work creates an intimate vintage atmosphere. Andy became known in the alt world through his contributions to Elegy Magazine, and chats with Coilhouse about his first photoshoot, his new book, agency models vs. alt models and other interesting topics below:
Do you remember the first photo shoot you ever did?
Yes I remember perfectly. I was a 17 years old teenager who’d just discovered the sense of love. I began my first roll in shooting my girlfriend innocently. I was unconscious of what photography was, and felt really out of all material conditions…
This first roll had a very hard light, supplied by a simple bedside light. Her skin was wrapped in a piece of black satin, and her legs hidden behind beautiful stockings, she was wearing a black velvet men’s “Haut de forme” from the end of the 19th century…our bed was surrounded by mirrors. We just made only one roll this day, as the teacher asked to us at the Beaux Art school, to learn how to develop and to print photographical pictures. This roll changed my life forever, and I was not conscious of that.
I just picked up your new book, Libertine. Can you tell us a little bit about this book? What is the inspiration behind it?
This book is a good pretext for me to express some of my hidden thoughts. It’s a way to communicate the visions I have of intimate persons sharing my real life. There a poem at the beginning that introduces this fact…
There is a part of masquerade inside, like a game which is coding the reality to reveal to those which are able to understand the language of pictures. It’s a gloomy manifesto of the female narcissism, a kind of materialisation of poems coming for the inside. Every shooting are different. I use subterfuges and elements from the past to explore deeper the essence of my models, which are extracted from the passing time to give me a image of their proper eternity… maybe the image that they want to keep of herself like the epitaphic portrait somebody want to leave on a grave. So this book is a kind of collection of poems written alone, speaking about the vision I have of ghostly disappeared girls. I try to catch their soul that I love so, to give a sense to the pictures, will means for years and years after me.
This book is a small size, like a handbag book or a bedside book. It’s is like a poetry collection, like a message whispered at the hollow of the ear.
It was published by Editions RAGAGE in France, numbered and it’s available directly on the website of the publisher or via order with the good bookshops, on internet or in Paris.
Your photos have a painterly quality, and many of your images tell a story. Are you interested in pursuing any other arts, such as film-making or painting?
Yes of course. There is so many ways to express innermost feelings… photography is the main one I choose for the moment, but I already explored moving pictures not as a director but as a director of photography. I worked with Clement Oberto, a video clip and short movie director. We made 3 projects together, and it was quite interesting. The light working and design is the beating heart of the cinema and the tone is given by the aesthetic of the pictures. I consider this as an entire way of expression and take a lot of pleasure to work on those kinds of projects. With Clement Oberto, we have similar points of view about what a short movie or a video clip have to be, so working together is a artistic collaboration in creation too. I can say that realize a movie is a goal for me, and when the occasion will be given to bring this project to life, I will take it strongly between my hands… I have a precise idea of what it could be, surely a pure mixing off that is already in my fixed pictures.
How do you find your models? Are they friends, or people you meet on the street or at a club and then photograph, or do they come to you from a professional modeling agency?
I always work with people that please me, for many reasons and it’s always different… as the differences between people. I try to keep an authentic feeling about the natural personality of my models, from agencies or not. Models from agencies are more “professional”, but for me it’s an abstract idea. It’s just that girls coming for a job are more ready to give a part of her, cause it’s their job. Models that do it for pleasure are not the same, they are not formatted to give this, they have just their own manner to be, like autodidactic persons… so the result is not comparable. I can say that working with professional model is easier, cause the agencies do a big part of your job in selecting the girl for what they are… but those girls are like any other one and its this fact that I try to explore deeply. This part of truth, of authenticity interests me a lot, sometimes you can forget all material factors to reach only the purity of a moment and this is the driving wire of my photographical research.
In fashion photography, at least here in the USA, there is a lot of pressure for photographers to shoot “what’s in style” in order to sell work to magazines. However, your romantic style may be incompatible with certain trends. Is this a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?
Yes, it’s true. There is some trends that take a big part of the visual space in photography, in fashion industry particularly. When everybody does pseudo teenage rock n roll, you have to do that, ect… the question is: Is it the only solution to exist? I don’t think so.
I noticed something that we can perceive if we analyze deeply the nowadays photographic landscape. There are no rules. There are only trends, but not real styles that envelope everything like we knew in the 50’or the 70’. Everybody is an isolated case and no generalities can be done concerning the artists. I just can say that the righteousness is paid today. You have to follow your own way and find the sensitive point that will give to your conception of art, the way to be understood by the audience and appreciated at the exact value. Most of the time, photographic works like every other major media are the purest result of what we have inside us. The public never mistakes… In France, fashion photography is ruled by experimented old photographers from the 70’s and the 80’s who had fixed position. But there is a place for those who have something true to bring to photography & fashion, and this time is like a gigantic swamp full of possibilities and you just have to find your own way in this jungle. It takes some time to exist in this world of giants and it’s normal. It’s the essence of our culture.
If you could bring back to life and photograph one woman from history, who would it be?
I would like to see the young Countess of Castiglione, taking a bath in her “hotel particulier” in Paris…and looking to the flowing shadows outside at the window, that betray the concupiscence of her lost innocence, her skin still wet.
Thank you for your time, Andy!
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