As Sophie Arancio is all too aware, the real challenge in photography may be to produce images that have longevity, and for this, we are eluded to the fact of what type of emotion is going through the minds of Arancio’s muses and models. And so we continually ask the meaning of these photographs. A few words with Ms Arancio.
Photographer and artistic director.
What is your greatest interest at the moment?
Currently in Paris it’s hard to miss the social movement “Nuit Debout.” We are witnessing the emergence of a group who believes in a new type of society and who is redefining the idea of living together. Of course it is interesting and makes you ask questions about our society.
I’ve always liked the idea of individuals getting together over a shared interest in a subject, a passion or idea. For instance, I very often go to concerts and I’ve realized that in addition to what’s happening on stage I really like observing the audience. Watching people who are part of the crowd, caught up in the group’s energy.
These settings create worlds within a world, with their own set of codes, values and hopes.
At a time where the notion of individualism is omnipresent, I have the impression that there have never been so many social movements and gatherings.
How do you apply this to your photographs?
I can’t really identify the way an idea takes form before it becomes an image. Our subconscious records information and emotions that may leave stronger or lesser impressions, and these are the imprints that express themselves naturally when I’m behind the lens.
It’s an approach that goes through the senses; my photography is loaded with my experience and thus evolves with me.
The aesthetics of my work can be easily explained through how they’ve been guided by my inspirations at a given moment.
The representation of the deeper substance, however, the subjects that I’m dealing with, is something that eludes me and which I’m not trying to explain.
Who are your current muses in Paris?
I get lots of inspiration from the people who are close to me: my friends, my boyfriend, and even people whom I meet through my work.
If I’m touched by their physique, it’s also because I’m inspired by their attitude, personality, history and their way of interacting with the world. This doesn’t always mean that they are the subjects of my photography – you don’t necessarily find them in my images. Yet, they are always at the heart of my creative processes.
A common point in my photography, however, is youth. My models are only rarely older than twenty. They share a form of lightness as well as a certain spontaneity in their attitudes, which is all the more surprising and paradoxical because they are so conscious of their own image. Youth today grow up narrating their lives on social media and apps; they’re totally in control of their own representation.
Do you identity with the Paris lifestyle?
I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve always felt comfortable in a number of countries, be it Japan, the US or even in Afghanistan! But yes, Paris is my city. I love it and I’m inspired by it. It’s an incredible place with all of its architecture, cultural life, fashion, gastronomy, and of course its nightlife scene.
What is the youth scene like at the moment in Paris? Can you describe it to us?
It’s hard to talk about a new Parisian scene because the city has a very particular energy these days. Ever since the attacks in November last year, young people, who were specifically targeted by the horrible events, seem driven by a contagious type of energy. There are no individual figures that really stand out in this movement; it’s more of a general momentum.
You can feel the energies in the air; values of sharing, creativity, wanting to live each day to the fullest, to fulfill desires and carry out projects. There’s a general feeling of heightened consciousness – people want to focus on the essential things. For some this may be releasing their creativity, for others, concentrating on their friends, and I think everyone wants to just get together and celebrate life.
Do you think being surrounded by creative people who are excelling inspires you to do better?
Most of my friends have creative professions, they’re filmmakers, painters, musicians, photographers and so on. To move in circles that are dynamic and stimulating helps motivate me and pushes me to come up with new projects.
Yet, when it comes to inspiration, I mostly find it in everyday life, not necessarily through the people I frequent. It comes to me through things like a beautiful ray of light, a scene in the subway, or going on a trip somewhere.
The industry has obviously become more diverse over the last few years, how had this impacted you?
The profession is constantly changing, no matter how you look at it. Yet, I’ve never tried to evolve at its pace. There are new tools, new ways to make your work known, but I don’t want to adopt new innovations immediately.
My photography doesn’t follow these movements, because my work resembles myself, first of all. It’s always connected to a certain moment in my life since I do mostly intimate work. Also, I only do analog film photography.
I try to stay faithful to myself, to follow my own path, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a savage! I make sure to meet a lot of people because what I do is above all about human stories. Sometimes you meet someone, a model, an agency, a brand or a stylist, you go with the flow and something happens; an image, a series or a new project. My work is especially influenced by this type of encounters.
For you personally, as a photographer, what is your greatest challenge when trying to convey an image?
I think that the higher the stakes you put into an image the more you risk being disappointed. What’s important to me is firstly that the image is true to my spirit and secondly that it’s capable of producing an emotion or being inspiring to other people.
At a time where there’s a constant flow of images flashes before our eyes, where photography is everywhere, the real challenge may be to produce images that have longevity.
What are you influenced by when taking a photo?
I always have a camera with me.
What makes me want to shoot a picture can be an aesthetic detail, a special light, a mood, a color, a texture, a motive or a face.
I don’t do staging; it’s mostly snapshots. I prefer spontaneity, which is a form of realism that I find in the life of everyday.
What do you hope to do in the long term?
I would like to exhibit more of my images to share them with a larger public.
I’ll continue doing collaborations too because they let me keep doing personal series. I’m interested in the artistic approach and really not a commercial one.
In the long term I would also like to do more video – I’m more and more attracted to moving images. I see it as an extension of my current activities, a new area to explore, which is something that’s always delightful!