Anne-Sophie Landou (b. 1989) is a French photographer based in Marseille with Corsican roots. Diagnosed in high school with anxiety, she started using photography as a way to break with mental patterns. Today, she uses the camera as a play tool to convey her vision of the world in a raw, poetic, intuitive, feminine way. We are happy we get to to collaborate with her.
Below you will find a recent interview from Underexposed Magazine, a magazine dedicated to showcasing and promoting fine art photography made by women.
1. Where are you from and where are you living right now?
I was born in Toulon, in the south of France, 27 years ago. I moved to Marseille when I was 8. Then I lived in different cities in France, and spent last year in Brooklyn, New York City, which was an incredible experience. Back to old Marseille now! Also, I have Corsican roots I am very attached to.
2. Does the place you live in affect your art and practice?
A lot. When I moved to Marseille as a kid I wasn’t happy. I left my best friend, a quiet city and some beautiful memories behind. I was already affected by anxiety, but it got worse. I had to escape. I started to draw, to write articles and stories, and to make some collages out of magazines. Later, when I got affected by depression I started taking pictures in a conscious, intimate way, and mostly indoors. Marseille was pretty hostile and stressful for me. When I’m on vacation, especially in our family house in Corsica, I feel way more free. A lot of outdoor images come out from this peace, even though I really, really love shooting indoors.
It’s really in Brooklyn that I started to practice street photography in a hectic way, I would say. I used to walk around the hood for hours taking pictures of people, amazed by this new environment. Then, I continued during my travels, and in Marseille; even though, I have to say, I don’t feel that comfortable in this city practicing this particular type of photography.
3. How does being a female photographer influence your work? Do you encounter any challenges in your practice relate to that?
I kind of started photography because, and when, I became a woman. I was dealing with both depression and anorexia. I began making self-portraits, pictures of my body, in particular. It was like I had more control on that changing body. It also saved me later by making me realize I was too thin. The camera became both a medication and a weapon. It’s funny because I never really stopped taking selfies, those self-portraits that I saw and still see as a strong personal intimate artistic statement are now normal in our society, if I may say so.
As far as street photography, it is both harder and easier to be a woman. But, for this very reason, the issue is that sometimes you can be despised by the street photography community, which is mostly masculine. I already heard comments like “it’s easier for you, you’re a pretty young lady”; it is rather upsetting. Same with the self-portraits, you can easily be seen as a mere narcissistic girl that uses her body or her nice features to target her audience. It’s still a man’s world.
4. Do you want to share something about your body of work? What are you working on right now?
I am currently shooting a lot with my new toy, a Contax T2 I bought few months ago. I’m having a lot of fun. It didn’t really changed the way I shoot - it remains very intuitive. I just shoot what I see, what moves me…whatever it is, wherever it is. Besides that, I started a selfie project, mostly digital. It’s the first time I think in terms of series before the creative process. It is deeply connected with a depressive episode I had when I got back from the US. I lost a lot of weight, and had low self esteem. I had to learn again how to have fun with myself. Basically, I just put on outrageous and childish makeup, weird clothes and I take photographs of my face. When I think about it, it’s very intuitive as well. I just grab funky outfits, and it cheers me up. I can also do it in the middle of the night.
5. How do you get inspiration? Who do you admire?
I get inspiration from life. It might sounds a bit cheesy, and maybe even a little bit pretentious, but I really shoot instinctively. Of course, my eye is trained. I mean, I’ve seen many movies, I’m a big art geek, I curate galleries on the Internet. But it’s really in the present that it happens…a nice reflection, an odd expression on a face, my dogs fooling around…
I mentioned street photography, but I don’t picture myself as a portrait photographer, nor a street photographer, nor a landscape photographer. I take pictures with my own artistic sensitivity.
I admire many artists and I am really inspired by different things.That hyper sensitivity that makes my life hard is both a blessing and a curse, as they say. If you want names, I look up to Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Anders Petersen, Pablo Picasso. But I also do really like some of my Flickr friends and emergent young artists. I’m all over the Internet, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc…I’m an image freak!
6. Do you shoot mostly color or black and white? Why?
I shoot mostly color. I began with black and white as a teen, it was a good way to begin photography. Many would disagree, but I find color more challenging and more beautiful. I live in the South of France, in a very luminous town, every tone is enhanced, here. Plus, I love art, nature, and fashion. I love life, and photography is life to me. I keep black and white for fun, even though I often change my mind!