“I never had the guts to say ‘I am a photographer’.”
Marion Berrin (born 1982 in Aix-en-Provence) is a French contemporary photographer currently based in Paris, France.
She studied Contemporary Photography History at l’Ecole du Louvre in Paris, but learned almost everything she knows on sets assisting Estelle Hanania, François Coquerel, Alex Cretey Systermans and Maciek Pozoga.
Marion Berrin is a French photographer working on film, trying to evoke rather than just describe.
Interview with Marion Berrin
Marion, what is your body of work about?
I tend to focus on moments, on things that I want to save on film. It can be a shadow, the way a friend pin her hair, a smell.
Just trying to capture things I want to remember.
How did you develop your style?
I studied for a year at l’Ecole du Louvre in Paris and I think I had a kind of click in my head at that time. I saw inspiration everywhere. I spent time in exhibitions, I was at the cinema all the time, reading all the time, soaking in as much as I could.
After that year, when I left school, I felt a big void in my life, I started to shoot images & series that became my style. Like if I had to stop school to be able to digest everything and do something with it.
What were the most beautiful, challenging or remarkable moments creating images?
I had to shoot a fashion look book a few months ago. I was afraid to do something that would be unfashionable in a few weeks or months.
How was the creative process? How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
Oh man. I used to shoot and assemble images afterwards. If they worked together it was fine. I now do the complete opposite. I throw an idea, put a concept on the table and then shoot it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I learn a lot from it.
“I like when things are a bit abstract and uneasy. Easy bores me.”
I create some series in a few hours and other in months, some, well are still in a creation process a year or more after the day I decided to work on them.
The idea of a series helps me a lot in trying to build my own photographic language. The title is in french, because it’s my language, with always the same sentence’s construction. The title can be something I invented, a book I read years ago, a sentence a friend said.
And then I tend to build on an idea my vision of this idea. It’s challenging. (I started with “Les Intentions Fantaisistes”. What does it mean ? I am not here to explain what it means, but just here to give my vision of it. I like when things are a bit abstract and uneasy. Easy bores me.)
Why did you become a photographer?
I became a photographer malgré moi I guess, well that’s the impression that I have. I never had the guts to say «I am a photographer». Not enough confidence probably and a lot of I don’t know if it’s really what I want to do when I’ll grow up” Luckily for me, I am surrounded by a bunch of amazing people, who believe in me and made me realize that I had to do something with photography, that it was my thing, the language I am at ease with.
What does photography mean to you?
Everything. A place in which I feel cosy. A place in which I need to be. A place in which I am very honest. A place in which competition is quite violent. A place in which you need to be surrounded by supportive & kind people. A place in which I am alive. A place in which I exist.
Which photographer has inspired you most? Do you have a point of reference when realizing you images?
“She helped me a lot in believing in me, in my work and in standing for what I do.”
Estelle Hanania has been a reference since the day I discovered her work years ago at the Photography Festival in Hyères. She had won the Prize that year, which made me very happy. She has been a reference since then, she often made the list when people or friends asked me for who are your favorite photographers.
Luckily, I had the big chance to assist her on her Glacial Jubilé book and she gave me confidence, she helped me a lot in believing in me, in my work and in standing for what I do. I have the feeling that since I know her I have been able to develop my style and I am glad when she tells me what she thinks about my work. She is my godmother in a way. I feel very lucky and I will be thankful about this for ever.
Which photographer (contemporary, friend, colleague etc.) has caught your attention lately?
Alex Cretey Systermans, a Parisian based photographer.
“I was mesmerized by his compositions, his sense of capturing moments like no one else.”
I met Alex about a year ago, he was a friend of a friend and had one the SFR Jeunes Talents prize and had a show inside the Grand Palais for Paris Photo. I was mesmerized by his compositions, his sense of capturing moments like no one else. I was not very surprised when I discovered a very humble and gentle guy behind the lens, always happy, always smiling.
He has a very emotional photography, a very intimate one, and that’s what I love in the end when I look at a picture, I need to feel something, to have an emotion, a good or a bad one. Some photographs by Alex made me shiver, one or two made me cry and I will be thankful about this for ever.
And that’s what photography is about.
What’s in your photography bag? What kind of equipment do you use?
I only shoot analogue, so very often there are two cameras in my bag and film. I have a Canon AE1, a very practical little camera, very sharp and quite easy to carry every day in a tote bag. And I also have a Mamiya 645, which has been for years my dream camera.
Medium format was something I was attracted but I was not sure I could handle it. I got it almost a year ago and I adore it.
I have many other cameras at home but either I am not good at using them or not at ease enough with these.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
The Milanese, a research mood board done by friends of a friend. A perfect visual selection for inspiration.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Do what you feel is right.